Collect dandelions flowers. This is best done in the morning, while the flowers are open.
Gently remove the yellow leaves from the green stems and rinse them. I do this in bowls of water so any dirt can sink to the bottom of the bowl.Note that not everyone chooses to rinse the flowers as it will get rid of some of the pollen, which adds flavor and helps create the correct consistency. If you don’t want to wash them, set them aside for 10-15 minutes to allow any critters to leave the flowers - they will be sterilized while cooking.The greens can yield a more bitter dandelion syrup, so I always eliminate them from the mixture. However, if you decide to use the entire dandelion heads, your dandelion honey will be brown and have some bitter notes.
Step 2: Simmer the dandelion honey
In a large skillet/pot, add the petals, sugar, and apple juice. Heat over medium heat until it is brought to a soft boil.
Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and reduce until the mixture darkens and thickens. It’s ready when it clings to the back of a spoon. This can take 1 hour or more - the exact time will vary based on the amount you’re making, your pan, the exact heat you’re using, etc.Alternatively, you can use the ‘cold plate’ test similar to when making jams. Place a small saucer in the freezer for 20-30 minutes, and then add a drop or two of honey to the plate. This will cool it quickly and give you an idea of what the texture will be once it’s cooled.
The dandelion ‘honey’ will continue to thicken up and become more sticky as it cools. Even more so when stored in the refrigerator - so it’s best to simmer it to a light syrupy consistency. If you reduce it too much, it will become more jelly-like in consistency.
Step 3: Strain the syrup/honey
Pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve (or cheesecloth), using a spoon to gently press the leaves and extract as much liquid as possible.You can use a funnel to transfer the mixture directly into a sterilized jar while it’s still hot and close the lid immediately. The warmth will cause it to properly seal (when using a canning jar) and help preserve it for longer.
How to Store Dandelion Honey
If stored properly (in an airtight sterilized jar), the dandelion honey will keep for several months (even up to a year) in a cool, dark location (like a pantry/kitchen cupboard).As soon as I use it for the first time, I like to transfer the vegan ‘honey’ to the refrigerator. Like regular honey/jellies, look out for signs of mold/spoilage.
Flower app: Dandelions are fairly easy to recognize. However, there are several similar plants. For that reason, if you’re new to foraging, I recommend using a plant-identifying app to make sure you’re picking dandelions!
Dandelion allergies: note that some people can have an allergic reaction to dandelion pollen.
Using dandelion root: if you pull out their entire taproot, it can be washed, dried, and ground into a delicious coffee alternative. However, I usually leave the root behind so it can regenerate (for the bees!). In fact, dandelions are very important for bees, so make sure to leave plenty behind or make this when there lots of flowering in your area.
For more of a dandelion jelly consistency: you can add a little pectin or jam sugar (which has pectin in it and can be used in place of regular sugar) to the mixture. The apple juice already has pectin, so you shouldn’t need loads. However, I haven’t tested it this way, so I can’t provide exact amounts.
Adding acidity to the dandelion honey: if you want to water bath can the dandelion jelly/honey, you’ll need to reduce the pH to below 4.6. I haven’t tried water bath canning for this recipe yet, so it’s best to refer to official sources for more advice.
Using frozen dandelions: this isn’t something I’ve tried, though an Instagram follower let me know that you may be able to store dandelions in the freezer until you have enough to whip up a batch of dandelion jelly/honey, and it works well.