Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dandelion and Burdock.

When I was growing up in the North of England many decades ago, a popular soft drink (soda, pop) flavour was ‘dandelion and burdock’. When I revisited the old country a couple of months ago, it appeared that those old wild foods now give flavour to cakes in trendy cafes and coffee shops. I don’t have a recipe for ‘Dandelion and Burdock Cake,’ but I am guessing a version of it could be made by substituting the beverage for Coca-Cola in a Coca-Cola Cake recipe.

Some time ago we talked about dandelion in a story called The Monk’sChoice. The other ingredient, burdock (or just ‘dock’) belongs to the Thistle family (Compositae.) It is a common wild plant, and a foragers dream. The roots, seeds, and leaves are all edible, and have a wide variety of uses historically, particularly for medicinal purposes.

Beer, of course, has been flavoured with a myriad ingredients over the millennia, including burdock. No doubt a liking for burdock beer was the stimulus for the production of a non-alcoholic version of the beverage, and perhaps this was led by Temperance supporters, in the same way that ‘root beer’ became an acceptable Prohibition drink in the USA?

Not all Prohibitionists agreed with root beer as a substitute for alcohol however.  Production of root beer still began with the fermentation process, and therefore contained ‘the intoxicating principle’ – up to a level of 5% in some beverages.

I give you a recipe for root beer which contains both dandelion and burdock. Let me know if you try it!

Root Beer.
For each gallon of water to be used, take hops; burdock, yellow dock, sarsaparilla, dandelion and spikenard roots, of each., 1-2 oz., bruised, boil about 20 minutes and strain; while hot add about 8 or 10 drops of oils of spruce and sassafras mixed in equal proportions; when cool enough not to scald your hand, put in two or three tablespoonfuls of yeast, molasses 2-3 of a pint, or white sugar 1-2 lb., gives it about the right sweetness. Keep these proportions for as many gallons as you wish to make. You can use more or less of the roots to suit your taste after trying it; it is best to get the dry roots, or dig them and let them get dry, and of course you can add any other root known to possess medicinal properties desired in the beer. After all is mixed let it stand in a jar with a cloth thrown over it, to work about two hours, then bottle and set in a cool place. This is a nice way to take Alternatives, without taking Medicine.
An Invaluable Collection of About Six Hundred Practical Recipes,by A.W. Chase, M.D. 1860

Quotation for the Day.

Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain.
Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away.
What care I how time advances:
I am drinking ale today.
Edgar Allen Poe


T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

So interesting that there are new "soda pop" cakes still being created. I would love to try the Dandelion and Burdock Cake, to see how it compares to our American classic the Coca-Cola Cake! Perhaps I can did up a bottle online...

wildcraft diva said...

1Thankyou for the recipe, would love to try it one day when my foraging skills are up to task. I also grew up in north UK (The lakes) and have fond memories of the "pop van". Dandelion and Burdock was my favourite.

The Old Foodie said...

D & B was my favourite too, by a long way.