"In the absence of kitchen staff, who were part of Boorab's wallguard, Mhera and Gundil helped Filorn and Friar Bobb to make the supper. Between them they made cabbage and fennel bake into pasties, which they parceled up with table linen, placing the raspberry cream turnovers on trays and filling a clean pail with dandelion cordial."
-The Taggerung, p. 246
Dandelion cordial struck me as one of Redwall's strangest beverages - I had to try it immediately. It certainly seems odd to make a drink out of what many consider a weed. After a little research, I decided to make a dandelion-flower infused simple syrup, served with sparkling water and ice. It has a unique, sweet, bitter/nutty flavor. It seems to me to be the kind of thing you'll either love or hate - if you can't stand the smell of dandelions, you certainly will fall into the latter group. If you think you'll like it, give it a try! It's easy, and very refreshing.
First, gather dandelions. You'll need about 100 flower heads. Most yards have an overabundance - ours no exception.
Large heads are best, but at this time of year most are on the smaller side.
The next step is to dismantle the flower heads. The yellow part of the flower is what you'll use - avoid the green fronds on the back, shown here:
Instead, grasp the soft 'petals' in the center, and twist them gently out.
The flower will look like this when you're finished:
You'll need about 1 cup of 'petals'.
Place them in a bowl.
Add 1 1/2 cups of water and stir to moisten the dandelions.
Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for at least 24 hours.
After the mixture has steeped, assemble a strainer and a small bowl or container.
Strain the mixture, discarding the dandelions.
The liquid will have a amber hue.
Place the liquid in a small saucepan and add 1 cup granulated sugar....
...and a tablespoon of honey (you can omit the honey if you'd prefer).
Cook the mixture over low-medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.
Continue stirring until the mixture reaches a boil.
When it boils, stop stirring and brush down the sides with a wet pastry brush.
Let the mixture boil, without stirring, for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. Allow it to cool for a few minutes, then remove to a container to finish cooling. Store in the refrigerator until point of use.
To assemble cordial: measure 5 cups (40 oz.) of sparkling (or seltzer) water into a pitcher. Add up to 15 tablespoons of dandelion syrup, to taste.
Serve cordial over ice, with a wedge of lemon or lime if desired (I found the flavor of lime to be quite complimentary, though it does overpower the dandelion flavor somewhat).
Approx. 4 servings
-Approx. 100 dandelion flower heads
-1 1/2 cups water
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 tablespoon honey (optional)
-Sparkling water (5 cups/40 oz.)
-Lime/lemon wedges (optional)
1. Remove the inner yellow parts of the flower heads (you'll need 1 cup of yellow 'petals'). Combine with water and let sit for at least 24 hours. Strain the mixture carefully and discard the dandelions.
2. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, honey, and dandelion liquid. Heat over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches a boil. Stop stirring - brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes, without stirring. Turn off heat and let mixture cool. Store in refrigerator until use.
3. Combine sparkling water with up to 15 tbsp. of dandelion syrup, to taste. Serve cordial over ice, with lemon or lime if desired.