29 April 2010

just dandy

It was about this time last year, that I read a post by Nicole about making dandelion sorbet. I was intrigued. I'd never eaten dandelions and had even gone so far as to poke fun at Jared's sister-in-law for drinking "dandy-blend" (though, to be fair, I was really only poking fun at the fact that she insisted it tasted just like coffee. I'm sorry, but no). Of course, I never got around to making the sorbet and by the time I thought of it again, the dandelions had long gone to seed.

I had just about forgotten about the recipe, until I saw Shari's photo of some dandelion lemonade she was brewing. Now, where to pick the dandelions. Naturally they're growing in just about every crack in the sidewalk around here, but being in the city, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about picking them from just anywhere. I figured the big park across the street was probably safe- if I picked from an area away from the paths and maybe even among some tall grasses, they'd be more likely to be clean. Jared suggested that maybe the parks department does some kind of nasty treatment, but I called and the nice lady insisted that they just mow. Too many kids and people around to treat (though apparently they get a lot of complaints because of all the weeds!).

So off I was, to collect my one quart of dandelion flowers. I got a couple of odd looks, but I suppose that's to be expected. I'm using my parent's old ice cream maker, which may or may not be on it's way out after twenty-some years, so I'm not positive about the consistency of this sorbet. The flavor, however, is delicious. Jared described it as "it tastes like dandelions smell," which I'm taking as a compliment. And for all the health benefits of dandelions, well, does it get better than this?

And might I add, a few scoops of this herbal-lemony-honey goodness tastes just perfect atop a nice slice of apple-rhubarb crisp.

A couple of notes about this recipe...It makes just under one quart of sorbet. The amount of liquid was too much for my ice cream maker to do all in one batch, so I had to do it in two separate batches. This is something to pay attention to depending on the size of your ice cream maker. If you do have to do two batches, be sure to shake or stir the liquid once it's cooled, before the first batch since some sediment tends to settle down to the bottom.

Last summer I could never find the perfect container to keep my homemade ice creams and sorbets in. I tried wide mouthed jars, but even those were hard to scoop out of. This time, I'm using a tall plastic quart container (like the kind you get take-out soup in), and that seems to be a good shape. I'm not crazy about the plastic, though and I'm on the lookout for something better--any suggestions from out there??
The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup honey, but I found the pure honey flavor was a perfect compliment to the dandelion and lemon. The way I did it (3/4 cup honey) is not super sweet, so if you like something more sugary, you might want to up the honey a bit. And try to use a mild flavored honey if you can, otherwise that flavor will overpower the whole thing.

Dandelion Sorbet
(adapted from The Splendid Table)

1 quart freshly picked dandelion flowers
3 cups water
3/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Using a pair of sharp scissors, snip the yellow petals from the green calyxes, discarding the calyxes. Put the yellow petals in a fine sieve and rinse gently. Bring the water and honey to a boil. Then remove from heat and stir in the dandelion petals. Cover and let steep for at least an hour. Stir in the lemon juice and chill. (You really do have to let it chill, otherwise it won't freeze properly in your ice cream maker). Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker, according to the instructions.

I still really want to try the dandelion lemonade, dandelion fritters, and maybe even some dandelion wine! Have any more dandelion recipes that you've tried?


  1. My neighbor makes dandelion wine every year, and it is divine!

  2. That sounds amazing, Julia! The honey and the dandelion (I'm guessing slightly bitter?) seem like they would be great together.

  3. that is so freaking rad. i had no idea.

    (mariko keeps her ice cream in ceramic containers shaped like those to-go containers. they have rubber lids... i think they are crate and barrel and they are so cool)

  4. thanks! we're heading out to pick some right now. the girl is super intrigued. we use glass Pyrex with fitted plastic/rubber lids for everything that doesn't work in a mason jar.

  5. wow, this is such a surprising way to use dandelions, but i love it!

    I use this ice cream container:


    I like it because it's insulated.

  6. I've just made my first batch of dandelion wine. And the first taste (before it becomes potent) was lovely, just like a honey drink. I will definetly be trying your recipe.