Happy Dandelion Week!
April 11th, 2014
Spring greetings and happy dandelion week!
This is the special time of year when all the dandelions burst out at once, faces to the sun, reflecting back the golden sunshine from above. Sure we'll see dandelion flowers for months to come, but now is the peak of their collective glory in this cardinal push of early Spring. In my neck of the woods of Southern Appalachia, I can consistently count on this happening around the second week of April-- and here we are again, gazing deep into their fuzzy yellow eyes!
Dandelions have traversed all corners of the world and have been revered for their healing properties. The blood-balancing, liver-cleansing, diuretic, bitter, anti-inflammatory properties are acknowledged across most medicinal traditions, particularly in reference to the plant's leaves and roots. These parts are clinically invaluable, but when dandelion week comes, I've got my eye on the flower (or technically, the inflorescence-- "many flowers").
My teacher and friend, the late Frank Cook spoke of the sweet energetic quality of the flower in it's ability to hold onto the sunshine. He would spend a day or two on a "dandelion dieta" where he would eat nothing but these flowers. Green Light, the oldest and boldest herbalist I have ever known also adored this plant, frequently making "dandelion elixirs" by leaving jars of the flowers and water out in the sun over the course of a day. I have found great delight in these both of these practices, each one a recipe for joy (and diuresis!).
In the last four years, I have created my own ritual around this special time. When the golden peak of inflorescence is upon us, I'll often drop everything and begin collecting the flowers for a mead. I know that if I can round up some local honey, spring water, and enough tops, then I can have year-long access to the energetic jubilance of a new Spring.
My recipe, I offer to you as a gift. Something this good must be shared!
Recipe for 1 gallon of Dandelion Elixir Mead:
Pick anywhere from a half to a full pound of dandelion flowers.
Pour enough water over them so they are covered and leave them out in the sun for the day and night.
Strain the elixir/essence water and set it aside.
Boil enough water to cover the flowers, pour it over them, and cover for ten minutes.
Strain the infusion and let it cool below 150F.
Stir in a pint and a half of honey
Pour it into a gallon carboy along with the essence water.
Pitch a half-packet of sweet mead yeast and add more water if necessary.
Put on an airlock, label it, and store it in a dark, warm space for four months.
Bottle it and let it age for at least another four months (if you can!)