Sweet, runny and blossomy, this dandelion honey is the perfect bee friendly vegan substitute for honey. If I hadn't made it myself I wouldn't believe it's not honey, it tastes and feels like the real thing!
Dandelions - Weeds or Wildflowers?
“A weed is but an unloved flower.”Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Dandelions are considered weeds in the UK, often seen as the nemesis to those that want a perfectly green grass lawn. But dandelions have been used by humans for food for centuries and appreciated by many cultures for their medicinal benefits.
A dandelion is not just one plant, but several different species of the genus Taraxacum. The most common are T. officinale and T. erythrospermum and they spread across the world from Europe.
A dandelion is easily to recognise with it's bright yellow many petaled flowers. Its leaves form around the base, and often have a toothed leaves. There are several similar plants with similar flowerheads in the daisy family Asteraceae, sometimes known as false dandelions, so learn how to distinguish these.
The leaf shape is what gives the dandelion it's name - from the French dent de lion, literally meaning lion's tooth. In German the plant is also known as Löwenzahn.
After they have flowered the plants turn into beautiful seed heads, often called clocks. Who remembers 'telling the time' as a child by blowing the seeds?
Every part of the dandelion plant is edible. As always, with foraging be 100 percent sure that what you are gathering is correctly identified and safe to eat. You can use the young leaves in salads and dry them to make tea. The long tap root can be dried, roasted and ground - it tastes surprising like coffee! Some people can have an allergic reaction to the pollen of dandelion, so take care. The flowers can be used to make dandelion wine. What we love to do most with the dandelion flowers, is to make this amazing vegan dandelion honey!
So let's get picking our flowers to make our vegan honey. Just leave some dandelions for the bees too 🙂
Picking Dandelion Flowers
The best place to pick your dandelion flowers is a lawn or field away from roads and dog walkers. Also take care not to pick anywhere that may have recently been sprayed with pesticides. The flowers open during the day and close during the night. You want to pick the fully open flowers, that still look nice and fresh. For our vegan honey recipe, pick just the flower heads without any stalk.
The perfect vegan substitute for honey
Before I became vegan I didn't know much about honey production and like many others I thought that buying honey was actually friendly to bees. I knew that vegans didn't eat honey, but I didn't really know the details why.
Made with foraged dandelion flowers, our vegan honey is so simple to make and tastes just like the real thing. All you need is fresh dandelion flowers, organic sugar, a lemon and water. That's it! Unlike other vegan honey alternatives such as golden syrup, agave syrup, date syrup, our vegan dandelion honey could make anyone believe it's actually honey! The dandelion flowers gives this vegan honey substitute a rich floral taste.
Vegan Dandelion Honey
- 2 cups (100 g) fresh dandelion flowerheads, densely packed
- 2 slices lemon
- 1.5 cups (350 ml) water
- about 1.5 cups (300 g) organic sugar
- Shake or blow the flowers to remove any bugs
- Place the water, lemon slices and dandelion flowers in a saucepan
- Simmer with a lid on for 15 minutes
- Leave this to cool and infuse overnight
- The next day, strain out the flowers and lemon by pouring the liquid through a strainer or muslin cloth. Press down to make sure you get all of that dandelion juice out!
- Weigh the liquid, and then weigh out the same amount sugar.
- Put the liquid back in the pan and add the sugar. Stir and heat gently at first until the sugar is dissolved. Then bring it up to a gentle boil for approximately 15 minutes. See the notes for tips on knowing when it's ready.
- Pour into clean sterilised jars and put the lids on while it's still hot
1:1 Liquid to Sugar RatioIdeally you want to weigh the amount of liquid that you have and use the same amount of sugar. We don't always have a scales to hand, so we use the cup measurements as above, and just use our judgement. As the amount of liquid you have left over after infusing the dandelions can vary, the sugar amount can vary, and so can the amount of time you need to boil the liquid. If you have ever made jam, it is a similar process.
How to know when it has reached the right consistencyYou will see that the liquid will darken and start to thicken. Test it regularly on a cold plate, or see how it clings onto a metal spoon. It will thicken more as it cools, so aim to turn it off before it reaches your desired texture. I prefer to stick to the more runny consistency. If you cook it for too long you risk that it gets overly thick and caramelises. If you change the batch size, the time needed to boil and thicken will vary. Just like real honey, this can also crystallise. But it's still good to eat.
Picking dandelionsAlways pick your dandelion flowers from a plentiful, clean and pesticide free place. Dandelions are an early nectar source for pollinators, so make sure to leave plenty behind for the bees and their friends!
I haven't weighed the liquidYou can just use the measurements given in the recipe instead! In this case, however, cooking time until you reach the right consistency can vary. It might take a bit longer, or less long until you are done. Make sure to test the consistency as described above!
I've added the sugar from the beginningNo worries! Nothing's lost. Here's what you can do: Instead of boiling for 15 minutes with the flowers at the beginning, just gently heat up until the sugar is dissolved, then leave to infuse overnight. To continue, strain the liquid as normal through a sieve, and the dissolved sugar stays in the liquid. Then heat up in a saucepan and simmer until the right consistency is reached (see tips above).
My honey has crystallisedYou have probably boiled off too much of the liquid or added more sugar than required, and the honey crystallised as it cooled down. Crystallisation can also happen when the vegan honey is stored for a longer amount of time.
We hope you like this dandelion honey as much as we do! You should totally try it on our Super Seedy Sourdough Bread We really love foraging so you can find lots more wild food recipes and tips here:
Sophie and Paul