When purchasing copious amounts of hard alcohol for my herbalism endeavors, I often elicit strange reactions. Being in a hurry probably doesn't help.
Last Saturday morning, I purchased alcohol to make my spring dandelion cordial, tinctures and flower essences.* The cashier avoided all eye contact with me during our transaction and hesitantly muttered "I hope you have a good weekend" from the corner of her mouth while stealing a concerned peripheral glance.
Two years ago, on the way to my first herbalism class at Lise Wolff's, I rushed into a Minneapolis liquor store and madly scoured the shelves for 100 proof vodka. I located a staff member and urgently asked for the location of his highest proof vodka. After receiving a concerned look from the supervisor, a male customer shuffled over to me and purred, "Yeaaaa, you gonna hit it" multiple times, while shrugging his shoulders and flashing his best, predatory smile.
This is not a weed
Dandelion flowers can be made into an olive oil salve that can relax muscles. The leaves are a delicious bitter green, and the roots can be made into a medicinal tonic in the fall. Having a "mapped tongue," meaning a tongue with raw patches exposing flesh beneath the taste buds, is often a specific indication for dandelion root tincture.
The flowers can also be made into a beautifully yellow cordial. It is hard to explain the flavor of this cordial other than to say it is unusual, refreshing, and universally enjoyed by all who have tried my version.
My summer adult beverage of choice is made from tonic water, a splash of dandelion cordial, and a slice of lemon. This cordial can also be consumed warm with hot water and honey and was recommended as a possibility to soothe colds or coughs. The recipe I use comes from A City Herbal by Maida Silverman.
- Collect 2-3 cups of dandelion flowers from chemically untreated land.
- Do your best to remove the bottom, green part of the flower with a knife. This can be tedious, so just try to cut away as much green as possible.
- Add the trimmed, yellow flower parts to a glass jar or bottle.
- To the flowers, add the rind of half a lemon, 2/3 cups of sugar, and vodka. I am a fan of the locally-made Prairie Farm version.
- Shake occasionally and store in a dark location for about 6 weeks.
- Strain through cheesecloth and a funnel, back into your original vodka bottle or other receptacle.
Pretty like sunshine
I feel it might be proper to add an "enjoy responsibly" disclaimer.
*I have been taught to use 100 proof, grain neutral vodka for tinctures and E & J Brandy for flower essences.