Several years ago, I took a 10-month course on herbal medicine. We learned how to make medicinal tinctures and salves from local plants, which entailed purchasing large quantities of strong alcohol and olive oil.
On the way to my first herbalism class, I rushed into a Minneapolis liquor store and madly scoured the shelves for 100 proof vodka. Not only was I unprepared for class, but I was running late. When I couldn’t find the alcohol, I frantically asked a staff member for help. The store’s supervisor watched me from the counter with a concerned look on his face. While I quickly examined the selection, a male customer shuffled over and purred, “Yeaaaa, you gonna hit it,” multiple times, while shrugging his shoulders and flashing his best, predatory smile. I remember feeling very confused. It wasn’t until after I left that it dawned on me how strange I must have seemed, even though my intentions were quite innocent.
Sometimes herbal medicine and the culinary world crossed paths with delicious results. This dandelion cordial is one of my favorite recipes from class. You can also find it in A City Herbal, a book about medicinal plants common to most urban communities. Now that spring has finally arrived in Fargo, try putting those pesky dandelions to use, but only harvest those grown in yards or land untreated by chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers.
The finished cordial has a flavor that’s hard to describe. It’s faintly floral and not exactly herbal, but unusual in the most pleasant way. Our favorite way to enjoy this cordial is in a refreshing summer cocktail. Simply add it to some tonic water along with a wedge of fresh lemon or lime.
Vodka, 750 Ml bottle (I like Minnesota-made Prairie Organic Vodka)
2-3 cups dandelion petals
2/3 cup sugar
Rind from 1/2 a lemon
- Collect 2-3 cups of dandelion flowers from chemically untreated land. Do your best to remove the bottom, green part of the flower with a knife. This can be tedious, so just try to cut away as much green as possible. A little green won’t hurt.
- Add the trimmed, yellow flower petals to a clean glass jar or bottle.
- To the flowers, add the rind of half a lemon, 2/3 cups of sugar, and vodka.
- Shake occasionally and store in a cool, dark location for about 6 weeks.
- Strain through a funnel lined with cheesecloth back into your original vodka bottle or other glass receptacle.