I wanted to use all these lovely flowers that dot the grass. When you get down on your hands and knees and start picking them, you remember how special they are.
And why you were enthralled with them as a child. Bright yellow and fuzzy. A special and important name. They were everywhere, and your mother would let you pick them. All of them, if you wanted. There were games to play with them. There were wishes to be made with them.
It really didn't take that long to pick a lot of them. And, of course, I didn't need a scissor.
Dandy Lion. I know that's not where the name comes from, but isn't it perfect? It comes from dentes de lion, french for lion's teeth.
Here's the hard part. Taking the petals from the flower. Make sure no green gets in! Which I didn't. There were a few in there. It's hard, meticulous work. And I didn't mind a little bitterness. Isn't that what dandelions are all about? Bittersweet.
Initially, I had intended to make a jelly. But after a long day, my mind was wandering, and as the temperature of the mixture grew higher and hotter, I wondered to myself, why isn't this jelling? I used an apple jelly base and knew it should work. I was staring at the bubbling pot wondering, wondering. Then it hit me like a smack on the forehead: you forgot the lemon juice! That's like a baker forgetting the salt. A little detail that is so important but easy to overlook.
So, immediately I poured in a tablespoonful of lemon juice and it bubbled up furiously, and I let it boil (now at 224 degrees) until it threatened to boil over the pot. It wouldn't simmer down even with stirring. I turned it off and let it settle, hoping for the best. What happened was this: the set was thick and viscous, not a syrup, somewhat jellied, but not a firm jelly. Not even what they call a "tender" set. The next day when I tasted it cooled it took a while to let the thick sweet sunniness of it settle on my tongue, and I realized that what I had was dandelion honey. Sweet!
The only problem? How to recreate it? You could add the lemon juice at the end and hope for the best. Or maybe cook it to 218 or 19 degrees, though I often find that you get just a thick syrup. Here is my initial recipe for the jelly. I do think it would've been a great jelly had I followed my own recipe! But I'm pretty happy with dandelion honey.
2 cups apple pectin stock
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup dandelion petals (only the flowery fluff, no green bracts!)
Add sugar, lemon and apple in pot. Heat to dissolve sugar. Add flowers. High heat to boil. Reach jell stage, or 220 degrees. Ladle into hot half-pint jars and process for ten minutes.
N.B. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Well Preserved's great post on dandelion wine, jelly and coffee. You would be remiss if you didn't stay there and check out all the spring preserving entries they did for Edible Toronto. It's jam-packed with great ideas and stylish graphics. And do peruse a great post on the beauties of dandelion jelly by Yummy Supper.