Tag Archives | infusions

How to Make Dandelion-Infused Honey

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones is dropping in today with an inspired yet simple idea – honey infused with bright dandelion blossoms! It reminds me of the lemon verbena honey I made back in the very early days of this site. -Marisa

I pride myself on knowing all sorts of unique preserving methods and recipes that make the most of each season. I’m also incredibly thrifty, preferring (with food, at least) to make, grow, barter, or glean what I eat rather than buying ready made.

So it was shocking when some amazing culinary artists in my neighborhood announced that they had made a limited-edition product that had never even occurred to me before.

Frances Rose and Acorn of K Is for Kitchen offer lots of different culinary services in our West Philadelphia neighborhood, and one of those is making ethically sourced value-added products. They make all manner of sauces, butters, pestos, and other treats, rotating with the seasons. And they has a little stash of a very special honey, a summertime wildflower honey infused with (wait for it)…dandelion blossoms.

Such a simple idea! How had I never seen or heard of this before from any farmer or forager I’d worked with? I had to try some — luckily, I was able to get my hands on a jar.

My first thought is that the flowers might add some bitterness to the honey — not unwelcome in such a sweet food — but I was wrong. The dandelion blossoms add a bright floral quality and a depth to the honey’s sweetness, creating complexity by combining two utterly simple ingredients.

To make this delectable treat, find a field or lawn where you can be sure that the plants haven’t been sprayed and the soil is not contaminated (the front yard where I live fits the bill here, but there are plenty of urban green spaces with dandelions that I wouldn’t use for food — so select your site carefully). The dandelions should be in full bloom, big and fluffy and bright yellow.

Then, simply snip or pick the heads of the flowers off and collect them in a clean bag or basket (I cheated and used my straw gardening hat). Leave the stem behind, but the green calyx just beneath the flower is ok. I collected three or four big handfuls, which were enough to mostly fill a pint jar.

When you get back to the kitchen, go over your blooms carefully to make sure you’ve removed any bits of grass, leaves, or stems and any hitchhiking insects. It was too early for spring honey, but I had a jar of local wildflower honey (probably from last fall’s harvest) on hand to infuse.

Then loosely put your flowers in the jar. You don’t want to pack them too densely or else the honey won’t penetrate. Pour over the honey and then give the mixture a few stirs with a knife or chopstick to make sure the flowers are submerged and remove any bubbles that may be trapped.

Then, simply pop a lid on your jar and set it in a cool, dark place to infuse. Give it at least two weeks, then taste; leave it longer for a stronger flavor. The flowers will take up less space once they’re suffused with the honey; if you have room in the jar and want to add another handful or two, you can do that, too.

When you’re ready to use the honey, there’s no need to strain the flowers out — I find they look really pretty in a jar or even in a pinch bowl for serving, and I just add them to my herbal tea when the rest of the honey is gone.

Dandelion honey is less of a recipe more of a reminder that in a long-coming, cool spring, even the humblest of weeds presents an exciting opportunity for beauty and flavor. Spring is ephemeral, and this is one way to capture a really special part of it. Your honey will keep for up to a year.

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Soda Week at Table Matters

I have spent the better part of today canning 55 pounds of tomatoes, five pounds of peaches and a few other edible odds and ends. My refrigerator is cleaner than it’s been in weeks and there’s a load of laundry gently chugging away in the other room. This can mean only one thing. I’m getting ready to head out on vacation (I can’t be the only one who feels compelled to finish all pending culinary projects before leaving town). Before I dash out the door, I want to point your attention at something I happen to think you all might like.

Recently, a team of folks over at Drexel University relaunched a website called Table Matters. It’s a daily site dedicated to stories about eating, cooking, drinking and the many delicious things that can happen around a dining table. I’m contributing to this new site on a weekly basis and my pieces are going to be about kitchen skills and from-scratch cooking, which should be a nice compliment to the canning and preserving content I write here.

This week, they’ve been running stories about soda (and who doesn’t like something cool and carbonated, particularly this time of year?). My contribution was about my love for the idea of cocktail hour paired with my unfortunately inability to hold my alcohol. The resolution? A trio of recipes for homemade shrubs, syrups and herbal infusions. You’ll also find stories on root beer floats, a guide to Philadelphia’s tastiest house-made sodas and easy cocktails that use soda as their base published in the name of Soda Week.

Take a little time to check out Table Matters. Though this incarnation of the site is still young, the writing is strong, the topics are fun and the recipes are seasonal and make for mighty good eating. It’s a nice addition to the food conversation and I’m quite pleased to be a part of it.

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Lemon Verbena Honey

lemon verbena honey

Several weeks ago, thanks to the generosity of friend with a bountiful herb garden, I found myself in the possession of a wealth of lemon verbena. A handful went into this batch of skillet jam to lovely effect. With the rest, I made lemon verbena honey. Really, to say that I made is it sort of silly. Truly, it was just an act of assembly.

lemon verbena

I plucked the leaves off their stems, rinsed them and used the salad spinner to dry things off. Then it was just a matter of loosely filling the jar with the lemon verbena leaves and pouring the honey over the top.

lemon verbena in a jar

After that, I tucked the jar away for a couple of weeks to let the flavor infused. That’s it. Seriously, that’s all the work it takes. It’s been sitting for about two weeks now and it’s tasting gently of lemon. The longer it sits, the more intensely flavored it will become. If you have a sunny window, you can place it there and help the flavor develop faster.

So far, I’ve stirred this lovely honey into tea and drizzled it over blue cheese. How would you use it?

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