We like to think of ourselves as amateur herbalists, and sometimes while we are on the way we catch ourselves daydreaming of a weekend at home picking flowers, preparing tinctures, scenting oils cooking soups, and drying herbs in our living room. We used to go every Sunday to the very same part of the very same river in the same corner of Vitosha, to pick our herbs. And every week, Nature surprised us with a new dress, with new flowers, now fresh dandelions, now pink clover, fields of self-heal or hidden and elusive wild garlic sprouts. We used to learn a new flower a week and a new remedy every month. And we miss all of that while we are on the road and Nature changes faster than we can even guess, from the steppes of Kazakhstan, to the heights of Tibet and now to the wild tropical beauty of South East Asia, all is new and all is to be learnt.It’s December and it feels like May, we walk in flip flops with short skirts, but there are no dandelions around for our favourite summer beverage. In any case, because we are always writing this recipe on traveller’s notebooks and scraps of paper, here is Boris secret to the sweet beer of 100 dandelion flowers.
100 dandelions (just the yellow flowers, without leaves)
2 Liters of warm water
1 sliced lemon
1/2 cup of sugar
A bucket or large pot
A wooden spoon
A thin (and clean cloth)
A funnel (or the top of a plastic bottle)
2 glass bottles with closing top
1. Collect 100 dandelions
Pick the yellow flowers on a sunny day, preferrably before midday. Plants are alive and dandelions turn bitter when there is no sun. Pick them from a clean place, avoid parks (where dogs pee), and get them from the place where there are many, which means it is their perfect home. You need to pick just the yellow flowers to make this drink, but some people like the bitter leaves in a salad, so you can try that too. The white fluffy flowers are good for..well..for making wishes and blowind them into the air.
Wherever you go, and whatever you pick, just have a happy day outdoors!
2. Put all ingredients in a bucket.
The flowers washed and clean, the water warm, the lemon sliced, and sugar to taste (Boris puts half a cup, but you can try with more or less)
3. Be patient for 4 days.
Cover the bucket with a clean cloth and store it in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight and children Stir from time to time (maybe once a day).
4. Strain into a bottle.
Pour the drink into a glass bottle, using the cloth to filter the flowers.
5. Be patient for 3 more days.
Close the bottle with a top and put back to the dark cool place. You can start designing your own beer lables, because you are almost there!
6. Voilá! Your dandelion beer is ready to drink!
It´s nicer served cold or with a few cubes of ice and you can add mint if you like. You can store it in the fridge for a few days.
If you are into herbs, or after spending a day with them feel like you have to explore this micro world of wonders, Hedgerow Medicine is one of the books we started the journey with (it is specific about recipes and remedies from herbs in the UK, but valid elsewhere in Europe). The rest of books are at home and we can’t recall the titles.