[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his is something special you can get the kids involved during the spring and summer when fluffy yellow dandelions are popping their heads up in the lawn and in the pastures.
It’s amazing how kids will eat what they have made themselves – and you better be sure you give all the right words of praise for their efforts! Their nimble little fingers will make short work of picking off those dandelion petals. And then there’s the mini adventure of going out to find the dandelions and the discussions about nature and the butterflies you’re bound to get involved in as well.
I find this dandelion honey butter particularly good on scones, but you can use it wherever you would use a sweet butter – crumpets, pancakes, and bread.
Before you go out hunting for your dandelions lets get the basic recipe down so you know your quantities. If you’re an average family of four then you will probably need the following amounts but you can adjust up or down, but do read the tips before starting.
½ cup of butter
½ cup of dandelion petals
2 tablespoons of raw organic honey
The butter should be at room temperature so you can simply whip the honey and butter together with a spoon then gently fold in the dandelion petals.
I think the fresher you eat anything the better, as it’s filled with all its natural goodness but you can keep this mix in the fridge for two months or so. The chances are it will be eaten long before then. Besides the kids will probably want to go dandelion picking the very next week.
Why raw honey?
Purists believe that honey should be used as it comes from the comb to benefit from its natural components like propolis, which is apparently destroyed by irradiation. This link will explain why you shouldn’t buy just any “honey” as some of it even has corn syrup added!
Picking the dandelions
The trouble with dandelion petals is that you pick loads of flower heads – you will need at least 2 cups or so to take home. You should end up with ½ a cup of petals because we don’t want the green part at the base of the flower as this isn’t so sweet. Incidentally don’t let kids chew the stems of the dandelions as they can be mildly toxic. To learn more about dandelions read this.
People have asked if you can use dried dandelion flowers. Well you can but the finished product will not look at pretty as the bright yellow combination with fresh petals. If the fresh product is right there in your garden or nearby why used the dried form? I much prefer using fresh mint, basil and oregano in dishes than the dried ones – unless its winter when the plants have died down and there is no alternative.
Watch out for chemicals
Pick from your own garden where you know no chemicals have been used or from a neighbor’s property – in fact anywhere you can be sure the plants haven’t been treated with poisons. Explain to your picking team – aka the kids – that you want fresh looking bright colored flower heads – no wilted petals or ones turning brown. Wash the flower heads before pulling off the petals. I find it best to pick in the morning – by late afternoon the flower heads have closed up. Also use them as soon as possible after picking – otherwise they also close up.
Making it a survival treat
If you are lucky enough to have your own survival farm you can get all your ingredients from the farm – organic honey with no irradiation or additives, fresh butter churned from the cream at the top of the milk from your cow and dandelions you deliberately left growing in the pastures, which the bees love – all contributing to the cycle of food production.
Cows also enjoy dandelion in small quantities but their pastures should not have too many as this report explains. But that’s the beauty of it – by picking the dandelion flowers you are preventing the pastures being over run if they were all left to go to seed.
Why raw organic honey?
The FDA has approved the irradiation of certain foods with Gamma energy in order to prolong shelf life by killing bacteria and mold as well as insects but it is not apparently effective against viruses. To learn more about the pros and coms of irradiation you can read this , which gives quite a bit of technical information regarding all types of irradiated food.
Basil Flower Butter – a savory alternative
As an alternative to the sweet butter you can pick the tiny light-purple flowers from your basil plants in late summer and autumn and mix them with butter for a delicious savory spread redolent with the flavor of basil.
One small handful of basil flowers
½ a cup of butter at room temperature
Simply stir the basil flowers into the half cup of soft butter and spread on crackers, sourdough bread or toast.