Dandelion

Spring Herbal Vinegar with Dandelion, Nettle & Comfrey

For us, the season of Spring is a beautiful and abundant time for making herbal medicine. Herbal vinegars are one of our favourite things to make this time of year and have become a real staple in our kitchen. Infusing herbs in raw apple cider vinegar is such a simple, delicious and effective way of drawing out the potent minerals and vitamins from the plants. Head out into nature and you’ll be sure to find many wild herbs that you can bring back to the kitchen. Often, we can be lured into believing that health has to come from expensive superfoods or supplements, but these wild herbs have many medicinal properties and are completely free to forage (or can be grown easily at home).

Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle

Although this vinegar is rich in nutrients, the main reason we make it again and again is because it tastes so delicious. It’s an amazing ally to have in the kitchen to make tasty salad dressings, blend into dips and sauces, add to soups or stews or even put on roast vegetables for a burst of flavour. Even though this is a recipe, we invite you to be creative and adapt it depending on what you have growing or can forage, what flavours you like or what medicinal qualities you’d like to include (for example, if your family suffers a lot with sore throats then thyme would be an excellent herb to add). We also have a recipe for the well-loved Fire Cider Vinegar that is amazing for fighting viruses. Below we’ve listed some more ideas for herbs/roots/ingredients that work really well:

Spices/etc
Garlic
Onion
Ginger
Orange/Lemon Peel
Cloves
Cardamom
Chilli
Cinnamon

Herbs
Dandelion leaves or root Tarragon
Mint Lemon Balm
Oregano Sage
Fennel Bay Leaves
Stinging Nettle Comfrey Leaf
Rosemary Nasturtium petal
Thyme
Dill
Chives


In our Spring Herbal Vinegar that you see pictured, we used dandelion leaf, nettles, rosemary, comfrey leaf, bay leaf and sage. Our preferred vinegar is raw apple cider vinegar because of the flavour and live cultures it contains, however you can use other varieties like red or white wine vinegar.

Method
1. Using your hands or a pair of scissors, cut or tear your chosen herbs into small pieces and lightly fill a clean jar. You don’t want to overpack the jar. Any ingredients like garlic or ginger should be finely diced.
2. Next, pour the vinegar over the herbs and fill the jar.
3. Using the end of a wooden spoon, push down the herbs and allow any air bubbles to rise to the surface.
4. Screw on the lid of your jar. Vinegar reacts with metal so using a plastic lid is preferred. However, if you don’t have this you can place a piece of baking paper between the jar and the lid (as seen in the photo).
5. Label the jar with the date and leave for 4-6 weeks. We like to leave ours on the kitchen surface and give it a shake every few days with some good intentions!
6. After 4-6 weeks you can strain the vinegar and compost any herbs or plant material. Now the vinegar is ready to be enjoyed!

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What herbs are growing near you this time of year?
Have you ever made a herbal vinegar?

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Homemade Dandelion Root Tea / Coffee

It's a pretty incredible thing that we have such easy access to so many foods from around the Earth. We can pick up tropical fruits in our local shops, cook with a huge variation of spices and generally find inspiration from cuisines all around the world. It's a huge privilege, but we often fail to see the abundance of life growing on our home land...maybe even in our own back garden. 

As we begin to learn more about medicinal herbs & foraging, we're discovering so much about what's growing in the UK and how we can appreciate these incredible wild plants. And with Mama Earth in her current state, we could all do with eating a little more locally & seasonally, as well as healing ourselves in more natural ways...

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Coffee

Dandelions are so abundant in the UK that most gardeners are trying to work out how to get rid of them rather than harvesting their goodness. They're a persistent plant, but their sunny yellow flowers can brighten up the dullest of November days. They're also treasured in the world of herbalism, with the root, flower and leaf all having different benefits and uses. 

The root is particularly beneficial in helping cleanse and purify the liver - something a lot of people need assisting with this time of year. As Christmas approaches & people begin to overindulge and drink more alcohol, the liver can become congested, causing one to feel sluggish and tired. Incorporating natural liver cleansers into our daily routine can be a game changer for this! Dandelion also contains a lot of calcium, iron, potassium & vitamins A, B & C, as well stimulating the digestive system and helping skin problems. It's basically an everyday superfood - and it's free to forage too! 

If you're trying to cut down on caffeine intake or just want to try a different, satisfying hot drink, then dandelion root is an amazing alternative to coffee. And it's a fun project foraging, drying & preparing your roots! Roasting the roots brings out a really incredible & unique flavour - somewhat caramel, somewhat earthy. And it's even better made into an uplifting spiced drink or mocha during these colder months of the year. 

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Coffee

Picking your Dandelion
As with any foraging or wildcrafting, be mindful about where you are harvesting & how much you are taking. Take only what you need and leave enough for the local wildlife. 

You'll have to dig a little to pick your dandelion, so best not to dig on private land or in your neighbours prized front garden! If you're lucky enough to have a garden, it's very likely that you'll have some dandelions growing in it, so that's the best place to start. If you can avoid picking near busy roadsides or driveways then it's much better too, as plants here will be effected by pollution. 

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Coffee

Preparing the Dandelions
1) The Leaves - To make the dandelion coffee, you'll only need to use the root of the plant. But the green leaves are full of nutrition and goodness, so we reccommend saving these to try! They do have a slightly bitter flavour, but we throw ours in a juice/smoothie. In the Mediterranean they are sauteed with lemon and olive oil. 

2) Wash the Roots - Once you've gathered your roots, you'll need to thoroughly wash them. We leave ours in a bowl of warm water for a while, and then scrub them with a cloth to remove all the dirt.

3) Chop! - One washed, you can chop your roots into very small pieces and place them on a lined baking tray. 

Before Roasting:

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Coffee
Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Coffee

4) Dry & Roast - If you live somewhere hot, you can then dry them in the sun for a few hours before roasting in the oven. Because we live in the UK and it's currently freezing cold, we dry & roast ours in the oven on a low heat for roughly 4 hours (checking them every so often). Once ready, the roots will be dark in colour and completely dry. They should have a fragrant smell too. 

5) Cool & Grind - Allow your roots to cool after you remove them from the oven. Place them in a clean spice or coffee grinder and whiz them into a fine powder. You're now ready to use your Dandelion coffee! Store in an airtight jar (where they should last for a long time)

6)To Prepare your drink - To use your powder, there are a few options ... 
* Place a heaped tablespoon of powder into water and bring to the boil for a few minutes. Drain and serve ... tastes best with added nut milk and a pinch of coconut sugar. 
* Use the powder in a mocha pot, as you would to make espresso
* Use a french press to infuse the roots in water for around 10 minutes. 


Next week we'll be posting our favourite recipe for Dandelion root,  making a medicinal hot chocolate with delicious spices! 

After Roasting : 

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Coffee
Dandelion Root Tea coffee

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Have you ever tried Dandelion leaves or coffee?