May 20th was World Bee Day! A day to acknowledge these tiny pollinators and the important job they do for us. I think it is so fascinating that these tiny creatures were created with a unique and vital job for (literally) the world’s food supplies, and yet we still place so little value in them. In fact, we often think of bees as annoying and squash-worthy. Did you know that they can fly at speeds of about 15 mph? Or that it takes 556 worker bees to gather a pound of honey, each individual producing only 0.8 grams in her entire lifetime? It takes one colony of honey bees (around 30,000 bees) to pollinate an acre of fruit trees (from our Canadian stats). I bring them to your attention to highlight another forgotten piece of nature: the humble dandelion.
Taken from the French phrase: “dent de lion” describing the tooth-like spikes on the flower’s leaves, these “weeds” have one of the longest flowering seasons around. Every part of the plant can be used: leaves, root and flower for edible delights! And — they are one of the first sources of foods for our ever-more-valuable pollinators! Again, a unique example of God’s intricate designs for our planet! This week, we learned to appreciate this symbiotic balance of God’s goodness even more – by trying our hand at Dandelion Honey!
I’ve been studying more about “natural” uses of things, and watching videos on foraging and gardening (still trying to be a bit “greener”) and use less, and thus discovered dandelion honey. I suppose it is technically dandelion syrup — but it tastes more like flowery honey of bee pollen than the mapley goodness Canadians are famous for. You can find lots of videos and articles on How to’s, each with their own quirks, tips and tricks, but I thought I would lay it out here for y’all on how we did ours. Check out my Pinterest Boards for more ideas. Note this was our first attempt, so proceed with caution!
It’s kind of an old fashioned recipe, so measurements were not all that precise, which is just up my alley ‘cuz I love to “wing it” a lot in the kitchen. First, the hubby picked a bucket full of dandelion flower heads (from our very own lawn — which we knew was pesticide free and abundant). I rinsed them off and picked out some grass (and the odd ant). You can leave the green head on the flower, and although we left some stems on (because I am lazy) I learned after that the stems are fairly bitter so should be removed. Some videos made tiny batches of a few cups of flowers, but we had a lot! You then make a dandelion “tea” by covering the flowers with water and boiling all the goodness out of them (about a 10 minute boil). We added a sliced lemon and a sliced orange to season even more (as per the videos). The tea is then cooled and steeped overnight in the pot. The next day, I strained all the “juice” out with cheesecloth — about 10 cups worth of liquid from my “big batch”.
The next part may be disheartening to the health conscious of you looking for natural recipes, but you add a lot of sugar to the mix here. Most how to’s say even amounts to your liquid, some say a little less, so for my 10 cups of tea, I added 8 cups of white sugar — okay a little less than 8 cups because I added a bit of brown sugar because I didn’t want to be left with no sugar left in the house! You get my point, though, right? It’s a lot of sugar! The next step is the syrup part of boiling off. And as any good Canadian knows, syrup takes a lot of effort to boil down. Did I mention I am not patient? I boiled my mixture for about an hour — just until it started to thicken up around the sides and slide between my fingers like the viscous syrup we know and love. I should have boiled it longer. Perhaps a lot longer. I was hoping it would thicken up upon cooling, but it didn’t. Our final product was pretty runny — but oh so yummy!
I think we got about 5 or 6 jars of the honey packaged up in the end. I gave two of them away as gifts. The citrusy sweetness is apparently a very good elixir for sore throats and such — not to mention great on pancakes! Or spoonfuls at a time. 🙂
So there ya have it: Dandelion Honey! As I reflected on these two simple beings, honeybees and dandelions, I couldn’t help but muse how deep their examples are to us. Both are seemingly insignificant. Common place in our springtime worlds. Easily ignored and often thought of as nuisances to be got rid of. Yet so vital to our earth’s mission. Much like we often feel in our own worlds. I recently put these words on our letterboard at home: You are sons and daughters of the King. Act like it.
I want my kids (and me) to be reminded that we are children who belong to the Most High (Psalm 45) So often we feel insignificant. Worthless and commonplace with little to offer to a bigger world at large. How can we serve when we are so small? Or so common place that no one pays any attention to us? Especially when things can be air brushed and photoshopped. The scriptures remind us of our place. We are heirs to the throne and will one day sit next to the Creator of the world! He who delights in the honey bee and humble dandelion, finds absolute sweetness in the sight of us! Rejoice in this my beloveds! And be reminded of it next time a bee buzzes by, or you see that field of “weeds”.