One of the most amazing things I’ve learned since we started leading tour groups on the Fantastic Forest Forage, is just how abundant many of these wild edibles are. Once you get your foragers vision, you’ll see them growing everywhere. I’ve seen wild plantain growing at bus stops, around fire pits when I’m camping, and in cracks in the sidewalk. And I was amazed to find burdock growing in the heart of the exchange district, near old buildings, and not simply relegated to the woods.
Then I was amazed to see that it, along with dandelions, and the wild plantain, was abundant along the trails of Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England when I hiked it’s 70 + miles this summer.
It got me thinking about one of the recipes we share with students of the Fantastic Forest Forage–that of Dandelion and Burdock Syrup. Apparently it’s a key ingredient in one of the oldest soft drink recipes in recorded history, first appearing in a citation of Summa Theologiae by St. Thomas Aquinas in 1265.
Turns out it was (and remains) a popular drink with the Brits. In fact, once I noticed the Burdock and Dandelion growing along the trails, I started finding bottles of Burdock and Dandelion soda in convenience stores all over the place. Foraging here in our own Assiniboine Forest opened me up to a part of a culture and history thousands of miles away.
While Burdock and Dandelion Soda isn’t so readily available here (Fentiman’s), it’s relatively easy, and worthwhile making it yourself using some of our Fantastically Foraged Fare (making it economical and local too!) Here’s the recipe.
1 tsp each fresh dandelion root and burdock root, chopped finelyIngredients
1 tsp ginger root, chopped finely
1 cluster of sweet cicely flowers OR 1 tbsp sweet cicely seeds OR 5 large stems sweet cicely with leaves OR 1 star anise
1/3 tsp lemon juice
1 and 1/3 cups white sugar
2 and ½ cups water
Boil all ingredients except sugar for 20 minutes in a sauce pan. Pour mixture through a filter into a bowl, and dissolve sugar in liquid. Cool the resulting syrup.
To make soda, add 7 oz soda water to 3 tbsp syrup.
Even better over ice with rum or vodka!
Learn more about foraging, and come out and gather some ingredients with us. Click here to find out more about Savour Winnipeg’s Fantastic Forest Forage, a guided exploration of Winnipeg’ (and worldly) wild edibles in the beautiful Assiniboine Forest.