from The Wild Food Cookbook by Roger Phillips and published by Countryman Press, 2014. Buy this book from our store: The Wild Food Cookbook.
Apart from being a very popular country tipple, dandelion beer was the drink most favored in the past by workers in the iron foundries and potteries of England. It is refreshing and particularly good for relieving stomach upsets or indigestion and for clearing the kidneys and bladder.
- To make 1 gallon of dandelion beer, collect 1 Liter of young dandelion plants. Wash the plants and remove the hairy roots without breaking the main taproots.
- Squeeze 1 lemon and put the juice aside; peel the rind off the lemon in strips (no pith should be left).
- Put the plants into a pail with 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger, the lemon rind, and 1 gallon cold water. Boil for 10 minutes, then strain out the solids.
- Put 3 cups light brown sugar and 1 tablespoon cream of tartar in the fermenting vessel and pour the liquid over them. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- When the liquid is lukewarm, add 1 tablespoon brewer’s yeast and the lemon juice, and leave the vessel, covered with a folded cloth, in a warm room for 5 days.
- Strain out all the sediment and bottle in screw-topped cider or beer bottles. This homemade dandelion beer is ready to drink in about a week, when it hisses as the stopper is loosened. It does not keep very long.
- Test the bottles daily to see that they don’t get too fizzy. Even after only 2 days in the bottles, the beer is smashing.
My mother grew up during World War II in Europe, and from her I learned to make coffee with the dandelion roots. Here are the directions:
1. Scrub the roots
2. Cut into small pieces
3. Dry them either in a low oven, or in the sun
4. Brown them in the oven or in a frying pan, till desired darkness (light, medium or dark roast)
5. Grind in your coffee grinder, and use as you would coffee
Kombucha Scoby growing
A SCOBY is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast that is used to brew kombucha. If you’ve ever had store bought kombucha and found little blobs it in, those are scoby fragments! We can utilize those tiny pieces of scoby to grow our own kombucha mother.
- Brew the tea
Put the saucepan on the stove over high heat and add 7 cups of water. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and move it to another burner. Add in 1/2 cup of sugar. Stir to dissolve.
Now you’ll want to place the tea bags in. Give it a good stir and then let it sit. These tea bags will stay in the water until it’s cool (down to room temperature).
Once the tea has hit room temperature, we will remove the tea bags. If you used loose leaf tea or one of the bags busted, strain the mixture.
Now you’ll need to measure out one cup of your unflavored and unpasteurized kombucha. As I’ve said before, it’s best to get the tiny scoby blobs from that bottle into your tea mixture! These will help the scoby growing process go a little easier. 🙂
- Let it work
Cover the jar and move it to a safe dark location where it won’t be jostled.It’s best if this is in a warm place (around 70 F / 21 C) – the colder it is the longer this process will take! I placed mine in a kitchen cabinet.Place a coffee filter over the mouth of the jar and secure it with a rubber band or a rogue hair tie if you have them all over the house like I do. 😛
At this point, the sweet tea just needs to hang out for a bit. It can take anywhere from 1 week to a month, depending on the kombucha you used and the temperature you’re storing it at.
Bubbles. The first thing that will happen is tiny bubbles appearing all around the top edge of the sweet tea. These started at day 4 for me.
A shiny/slimy looking film. The bubbles will eventually get an upgrade to a film that covers the top of the sweet tea. This occurred around day 7 for me. This film will begin to look more like a clear jelly as time goes on.
A kombucha-like smell. Another sign that things are going well! This started to get really strong around day 7 for me.
An opaque and very thin scoby. Around day 11, the film over the top of the sweet tea had formed into something slightly opaque and paper thin! Woohoo!
The scoby will continue to grow to 1/4 inch thick. From day 11 on, I just let my scoby grow. You want the scoby to be 1/4 inch thick. At day 20, it had reached that thickness, but I let it hang out until day 25 until I had enough time to make the next batch of sweet tea to brew the actual kombucha. At that point it was almost a 1/2 inch thick!
Things that are normal in scoby growth:lot of bubbles
- shimmery films on the top of the sweet tea
- bubbles forming in the opaque scoby (it will be very ugly and bumpy until you use it a few times!)
- strings and particulate coming from the bottom of the scoby in various colors
- a strong vinegar smell
- scoby growing in thin layers
Things that are not normal:
- black or green mold forming on the scoby. Toss it and try again!
- a cheese-like smell, or a smell like rotting meat.
Honey, stevia, agave, and other sugar substitutes do not work as well based on everything I’ve seen. The sugar is the food for the growing scoby, so it’s important to give it something it can break down easily. Use the regular stuff first to get used to the process, and then you can start doing crazy experiments. ;)As far as choosing your store bought kombucha, it is REALLY important it is unflavored and unpasteurized. Try to grab a bottle with some little baby scoby blobs floating around.
Make sure your jar is rated for canning and also nice and clean – pour boiling water into it to ensure there’s nothing funky living on the inside!
However, it’s important to not use any antibacterial soaps in the cleaning as it can hinder the scoby growth or stop it completely.
Non diary coffee creamer
Place 1 cup coconut milk + 1 1/2 tablespoons cacao powder in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat and whisk until milk begins to steam. Turn off heat and whisk in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons date paste (see recipe below) + 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Will store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for one week.