Be Sure to Check for This Before You Make TikTok’s Dandelion Syrup

Recipes for what some are calling ‘vegan honey’ have gone viral — but it may not be safe for everyone.

May 20, 2022

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Photo by: Hiroshi Higuchi/Getty

Hiroshi Higuchi/Getty

TikTok has brought us a food trend that seems tailor-made for a summer day in need of a fun project to tackle in the kitchen … and the garden, too: Dandelion Syrup.

Dandelion syrup recipes have garnered 283.7 million views on TikTok – and of course, there are a variety of ways to approach it.

This recipe from @thecottagegreenwitch involves steeping dandelion flowers in hot water overnight before straining out the flowers; adding lemon, vanilla and sugar; and boiling, rendering it into a thin syrup.

@thecottagegreenwitch A delicious spring time sweetener! Thanks to @thatvegan_witch for the idea! #witchtok #dandelions #greenwitch #kitchenwitch #dandelionrecipe ♬ Bloom (Bonus Track) - The Paper Kites

Meanwhile, this viral recipe from vegan cookbook author Carleigh Bodrug (@plantyou) is less stringent about separating out the green parts of the dandelion flowers and includes an initial boil with lemon and water before leaving the liquid to steep overnight. In the morning, once the dandelions have been strained out, the liquid is then boiled with equal parts sugar and “until it’s thickened slightly” and has a much more viscous consistency: It looks pretty much exactly like honey — or as, Bodrug dubs it, “vegan honey.”

“This honey doesn’t come from bees,” Bodrug says in her video, scooping a dripping amber spoonful out of a jar. “Let’s just use dandelions instead.”

@plantyou Vegan Honey 🍯 #honey #recipe #vegan ♬ Honeypie - JAWNY

Food Network recipe developer Amanda Neal chalks the viral appeal of “dandelion syrup” to its use of an unexpected ingredient, noting that many people aren’t even aware that dandelions are edible. “We’re all familiar with seeing these beautiful yellow flowers in our yards and gardens, but not many have thought to eat and cook with them,” she notes. “Plus, a floral syrup sounds delicious for sweetening tea and other beverages, so there's appeal there as well.”

Neal says those who attempt dandelion syrup can probably anticipate a “very sweet and a faint floral taste.” Because it’s basically a simple blend of sugar and water, it won’t “have the same caramel-flavor like maple syrup or even honey,” she adds, noting that, if you choose a recipe that includes lemons, “there could be a touch of brightness and acidity.”

But before you go foraging for weeds in the backyard, there are a few things to know: registered dietician Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, warns that dandelions can interact with medications, including anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs, diabetic medication (”increasing the chance for hypoglycemia when used in conjunction with some drugs for people with diabetes”) as well as lithium, certain antibiotics and some diuretics.

“If you use the syrup regularly, it can interact with these conditions and be dangerous,” she warns.

While most people can safely consume dandelions “once in a while,” Amidor says, she would avoid frequent consumption and “stick with honey.”

Neal adds that, if you live in an urban area, you should avoid picking dandelions growing in high-traffic areas or other potentially toxic locations.

“Car exhaust and pesticides can easily contaminate the flowers and make them dangerous to consume,” she notes. “It’s best to pick dandelions from a secluded field where they grow rampant and you know no pesticides or other toxic chemicals are used.”

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