Apart from being a very popular country tipple, dandelion beer was the drink most favoured in the past by workers in iron foundries and potteries. It is refreshing and particularly good for relieving stomach upsets or indigestion and for clearing the kidneys and bladder. The whole plants are grubbed up to make it and the following recipe is worth the making in springtime.
Wash the plants and remove the hairy roots without breaking the main tap roots. Put them in a pan with the bruised ginger root (not white pith) and the water. Boil for 10 minutes, then strain out the solids and pour the liquid over the sugar and cream of tartar in the fermenting vessel. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. When the liquid is lukewarm, add the 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. Test the bottles daily to see that they don’t get too fizzy. After only 2 days in the bottles the beer is smashing. This beer is ready to drink in about a week, when it hisses as the stopper is loosened. It does not keep very long.
From How to Enjoy Your Weeds by Audrey Wynne Hatfield, by permission of the publishers Frederick Muller Ltd.
© 1986 All rights reserved. Published by Macmillan.