Tag Archives: food

Rhus Juice

Having grown up in the northern US, I can still remember the impression it made on me the first time I visited California in the right season to see oranges just lying in the gutters. “Don’t these people know that those are food?” I’ve been reminded of this recently, as I’ve learned to identify sumac.

Yes, I’m taking the day off that I warned you about last weekend, so it’s time for another foodie post. Continue reading Rhus Juice

Nothing to See Here

I spent the day at a wedding, so what I made today was wedding photos. They’re not particularly worth sharing with people who weren’t there; the thinness of today’s entry is just another thing you can blame on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

To keep you from going away disappointed, here’s the annotations on yesterday’s project:

To make dandelion syrup, gather at least 100 dandelion blossoms when they are open and brilliant yellow. With a little practice, you can pull most of the petals out of the blossom and leave behind the greens (or they will make your syrup dark and faintly bitter, but still food). Rinse well, then add water to cover. Bring just to a simmer, cover, and let steep for six hours or so. Strain out the flowers, pressing to extract the liquid. At this point, what you have is an infusion, or herbal tea. Adding about 1 part lemon juice for 10 or 12 parts infusion will brighten it up a bit, if you want.

Now, just make a simple syrup: mix your liquid with an equal amount of sugar, by volume, and heat (stirring occasionally) until the sugar dissolves. You can probably as much as double the sugar for a thicker syrup, whose floral taste makes it an acceptable vegan substitute for honey. But the lighter syrup is what I’ve been using.

In addition to the ice cream, I cut this 1:1 with water for sorbet mix or popsicles, and about 1:4 with strong seltzer for soda pop. It’s also nice on pancakes.

Prototyping

If you’re like me, you have some dandelion syrup in your refrigerator waiting to be used. Which just goes to prove that you’re probably not like me.

Nevertheless, time to take a break from the dice deck project. It’s been pretty hot lately where I am, so let’s make ice cream.

I’ve made dandelion ice cream (and sorbet, and soda pop, and popsicles) before, but today I’d like to experiment. Making something exactly like I’ve made before probably doesn’t count. Now, syrup keeps long after the dandelions bloom, but it’s the right base if what you want to make is sorbet, not ice cream. So, you’ve got to fortify your syrup into something more milk-like before you begin. You could skip this, but then you’d have more of a sherbet than an ice cream.

I’ve done this before with evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk; the syrup already has all the sweetener you need). And in a pinch, I’ve seen success just by mixing the syrup with a goodly amount of heavy cream. I’ve been wondering how powdered milk would serve (the goal being to keep the ratio of other liquids down, so as to get the strongest dandelion flavor).

The dandelions won’t bloom again in New England until next spring, so I don’t want to risk my supply on this. What I need is a prototype. My big concern is, as we all know from watching Good Eats, that sugar is very hygroscopic. That is, it tends to hold on to water molecules and keep them from being available for other things, like dissolving milk powder.

I’ll try my experiment, then, on a batch of simple syrup first. More precisely (and this was not my own idea), a batch of rum-flavored simple syrup, so if it goes well I will have rum ice cream instead of milk-flavored ice cream.

Sure enough, the simple syrup doesn’t take up nearly as much of the milk powder as its constituent amount of water would suggest. Nevertheless, it does take up a fairly good amount after a lot of stirring, about a quarter-cup of powder per cup of water. So this is not a complete solution, but is a reasonable way to at least start fortifying before mixing in other dairy.

For the record, the recipe I’m going with is:
1½ cups dandelion syrup
about 3 Tbsp milk powder
1½ cups heavy cream
yellow food dye (as preferred)
Chill in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions

… which I think is proportionately about 50% more dandelion syrup by volume than the last time I tried this ice cream. The verdict: success!

Meanwhile, I accidentally found myself confronted with both sumac berries and wild grape vines today. I wasn’t actually planning on cooking with more wild edibles any time soon, but I guess fate is calling me.