When the frosts of winter finally begin to thaw in March, dandelions are one of the first flowers to unfurl in the weakened sun. Although their seed ‘clocks’ were a most accurate way to tell the time as a child, for adults they can be used to create something a little more tempting.
Dandelion wine is known for its unique and tangy flavour, but combined with the tart sweetness of raspberries it makes for a refreshing drink in late summer.
Pick your dandelions on an early spring morning, when the flowers are in full blossom and the heads just starting to open; the final concoction should be drunk ice cold with a dash of lemonade for extra sparkle.
Take a demijohn and sterilise with hot, soapy water before rinsing and leaving to dry. Wash the dandelion heads in cold running water, snipping off any green leaves where the head joined the stem, and pop each head into the demijohn.
Cover with the boiling water and leave to stand overnight. The next day, squeeze the contents through a teatowel or muslin cloth and combine with the lemon and lime juices, raspberries and sugar in a preserving pan. Heat gently and simmer for 25 minutes.
In the meantime, clean and sterilise the demijohn. Once the liquid has finished simmering, return it to the demijohn and cool to room temperature, around 25°C. Add the yeast and swirl until it has dissolved and spread out, and leave to ferment with an airlock for 12 days.
After this time, strain the liquid into swing-top bottles. For the first 24 hours, leave the swing-top resting on the bottle without securing, to reduce the chance of major fizz explosion. Seal the bottles and leave for at least six months before drinking.
Tiffany Francis is a writer, naturalist, podcaster and artist, living in the South Downs.
This is a recipe from Food You Can Forage by Tiffany Francis, published Bloomsbury Wildlife.