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Dandelion and burdock beer

Dandelion and burdock roots, being perennial, are available all year, but it is important to collect them only when the leaves are visible so that you do not confuse them with anything nasty. Spring or autumn when the roots are at their fattest is the best time to search them out. Burdock has large, heart-shaped, furry leaves and a habit of providing us with those tiresome burs that accompany us home after a country walk.

Method

Scrub and finely slice the burdock and dandelion roots.

Put them in a large pan, pour on 2.5 litres boiling water and add the carragheen.

Boil for half an hour; experience the aroma of an unpromising vegetable stew.

Take off the heat, add 2 litres cold water, the sugar, treacle and lemon juice and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Strain the liquid into a clean fermenting bucket, cover and leave to cool.

When your brew reaches room temperature, pitch the yeast.

Cover and leave to ferment for up to a week, until the specific gravity is down to 1010.

If you want to be safe, carefully siphon into strong swing-top bottles at this point.

The flavour of dandelion and burdock seems to follow a bell curve of: too sweet, horrible, really rather nice, horrible, poisonous – with the 'quite nice' occurring at the 3–4 week point and extendable by keeping it in the fridge.

The flavour is mildly bitter and pleasantly aromatic.

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Ingredients

  • A couple of large burdock roots (about 150g)
  • A handful of dandelion roots (about 50g)
  • 1 tsp dried carragheen
  • 500g sugar
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 11g sachet ale yeast

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Booze Handbook

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