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Did you know you can make a delicious vegan alternative to honey that tastes just like the real thing? And all it takes are three simple ingredients from your kitchen cupboard — and your lawn!

This spring, I’ve learned to appreciate dandelions in a whole new way. As a child I fed their leaves to my pet guinea-pigs and loved blowing their seeds into the air and watching them float away in the wind. 

But after a long pandemic winter, watching their sunny petals turn the nearby lawns into a sea of yellow brightened my spirits like never before.

Dandelions are commonly seen as a stubborn weed. But as well as being great food for pollinators like bees, it turns out almost every part of the dandelion is edible for people, too (including its flowers!). And bonus, they provide numerous potential health and medicinal benefits.

The “No Mow May” Challenge

Inspired by the No Mow May movement, we decided not to mow our lawn this spring. I must admit, it was a little awkward watching the neighbours mow a neat line in their lawn alongside our wild jungle every couple of days. But seeing an array of beautiful wildflowers blossom for the bees and other pollinators to feast on, the awkwardness felt 100% worthwhile. 

The other wonderful benefit of not mowing the lawn this May was that we had a plentiful supply of dandelions to try out in some new recipes. This dandelion honey recipe is easy to make and requires only three simple ingredients, so it’s a great first step to experimenting with dandelion cuisine.

Dandelions are plentiful in many provinces in Canada and flower throughout the spring and summer seasons. So whether or not you have a garden, you should be able to find some dandelions and try making your own honey!

How to pick dandelions

It’s important to make sure the dandelions you pick are identified correctly. There are several similar plants that look like dandelions, known as false dandelions, so be careful what you pick.

It’s best to avoid picking dandelions from areas where chemicals like pesticides may have been sprayed or where dogs might have walked and peed! Try to find a quiet area away from roads, pathways and heavy foot traffic.

As you pick, be sure to leave some dandelion flowers for the bees, too! In the spring, there are few plants for bees and other pollinating insects to feed on. So be sure to choose a time and place where dandelions and other flowers are plentiful. 

Dandelion Honey Recipe

Prep time: 12-13 hours

Cooking time: 30 mins

This recipe makes approximately one small jar of honey

You will need:

  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Strainer
  • Sieve or cheesecloth
  • Weighing scales
  • Sterile mason jar or jars – depending on their size (learn how to sterilize a jar here)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dandelion flower heads, densely packed
  • 2 slices lemon
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups sugar (approx)

Instructions:

  1. You can decide whether to remove the flower petals or leave the flower heads whole. I decided to remove the flower petals as a first step.
  2. Using a strainer or sieve, gently rinse the dandelion heads or petals to remove any dirt or stray bugs.
  3. In a saucepan, add the dandelion flowers, water and lemon slices, then bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Cover the saucepan with a lid and leave the dandelion water to infuse for 12 hours, or overnight.
  5. Strain the dandelion flowers from the water using a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Be sure to strain the cheesecloth or sieve thoroughly to get all the delicious dandelion flavour out!
  6. You need a 1:1 ratio of dandelion water to sugar. Weigh the dandelion-infused water, then add an equal weight of sugar to the saucepan.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the mixture is syrupy. Be sure not to stir the mixture too much as this can encourage crystallization. The mixture will thicken as it cools, so don’t worry if it’s still quite runny.
  8. Pour the liquid into a clean, sterilized mason jar or container and store in the fridge or in a cool dark place and it should keep for a few months.

How to serve

Dandelion honey is delicious and versatile, just like regular honey! Here are a few ideas for how to use it:

  • Sweeten hot drinks like chai, herbal tea or coffee
  • Stir into cold or sparkling water, add ice and lemon for a delicious summer beverage
  • Enjoy as a spread on bread or bagels
  • Drizzle over pancakes or waffles
  • Use in place of sugar or syrup in baking recipes
  • Mix with vinegar, oil and mustard to make a delicious salad dressing

Enjoy!