Who you callin’ a weed?
This dandelion kombucha is inspired by a homemade, bright yellow dandelion wine I tried several years ago at a potluck. I had always known the leaves of the plant were edible — my mom often talked about how my grandmother used dandelion greens in salad — but it wasn’t until I tried the dandelion wine that I realized the flowers were edible, too.
In fact, the whole plant is edible, down to the roots, which are often roasted and used as an alternative to coffee.
My good friend Monica inspired me to finally try it out for myself. My yard is full of dandelions and other beautiful flora, especially before the first mow of the season (which is happening as I type). I was able to harvest plenty of the sunny flowers to make two gallons of booch while leaving enough to ensure they’ll come back in full force again next year.
Read on to learn how to make your own dandelion infusion with a touch of citrus to balance the flower’s light, slightly sweet, earthy flavor. You can then add this infusion to flavor kombucha, lemonade, or other drinks.
Dandelions grow everywhere, but you want to harvest flowers that are as chemical-free as possible. Your yard is usually a good place to start, unless you live near a busy road or your yard has been sprayed with pesticides. If you or a friend don’t have a good yard to harvest from, you can also try a nature preserve.
Even though these flowers grow like—well, like weeds—you still don’t want to pick every one in sight, nor do you need to. For one batch of kombucha I picked two quarts of flowers (measured before removing the stems, packed very lightly). I found it best to harvest in the morning or early afternoon, when the flowers were only partially opened; this made it easier to remove the petals later on.
For more general tips on wildcrafting, check out this blog post rom The Herbal Academy.
Infusing the Water
Once you’re finished harvesting, give your fresh flowers a good rinse. Cut the petals off just above the receptacle and place them in two 16-oz jars (or one 32-oz jar). (Note: removing the stamens as well can give an even lighter, less bitter flavor, but I only noticed a slight difference when I did this. I’d say it’s not worth the extra trouble.)
Add about 1-2 tsp lemon zest and cover with boiling water. Let infusion sit on the counter until it cools to room temperature. Then, tightly close the lid, give the jar a quick shake, and refrigerate for about 24 hours.
The next day, strain your infused water through a double layer of cheesecloth to remove petals and zest. Don’t be afraid to squeeze the extra water out — flower petals hold a lot of moisture.
Now your water is ready to be used as a flavoring in whatever you decide to make! I made my infusion about a week before my ‘booch was ready, so I threw it in the freezer and thawed it the day before I was ready to use it.
If you’re new to making kombucha, that’s a whole other post. I recommend this post from The Kitchn on how to make kombucha tea at home. I used green tea and cane sugar for my dandy booch to get the light flavor I wanted.
When your tea has finished its first fermentation and is ready to be bottled, grab 8 16-ounce glass bottles. Pour ¼ cup dandelion water infusion into each bottle. Top off with kombucha, leaving about 1” of head space at the top. The dandelion water doesn’t contain a lot of sugar, so your second fermentation shouldn’t get too fizzy, but it’s always good to play it safe. Let sit out for 5-10 days or refrigerate and drink right away.