This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Clean Your Windows with Dandelions!

The common old dandelion can be used for so many things - from wine, beer, and liqueurs, to  marmalade, salad, cooked greens, pickles, you can even make coffee from the roots.

Today, however, I tried something different, Dandelion Cleanser.

I found the recipe on a single, ragged, page from an old cookery book which probably dates from a hundred years ago.  

Modern cookery books are sumptuous productions, full of brilliant photographs of beautifully staged and tempting foods, but I love these simple, very cheaply produced books from around the very early 20th century.    Often they are little more than a few pages, sometimes around 90 pages, usually they either lack their covers or have flimsy paper ones.    They cost next to nothing, people simply don't value them, and yet they contain so many fascinating avenues to explore.

Like this household cleaner - forget chemicals  - brew up some dandelions!

Dandelion Cleanser

Take four or five roots, leaves, flowers, and tendrils of dandelion and about three pints of water.  Boil until it becomes brown (see bottle in photograph) and about half the quantity.
Strain before use.

So far I have cleaned windows, mirrors, glass cupboard doors and the result has been excellent!

The sun has just begun to shine on the windows I cleaned earlier and I am happy to say that there are no smears or greasy marks left on them, it really does work.

All I did was wash them with a cloth soaked in the solution, I wiped the window dry with a cloth and then gave them a quick polish with a piece of old towel.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I often boil up dandelions for k to eat and usually use the water to water a pot plant. Though the Greeks consider the water a medicine and often he will drink a glass or two. Now I'll clean the windows with it!

    1. Hello Linda, One of my next foraging experiments will be to try out fresh cooked dandelion greens. My mum used to make us drink the cabbage water sometimes. I think dandelion water would taste stronger, an acquired taste, perhaps.
      However, my windows and mirrors are sparkling. I'll definitely be using this brew again for cleaning, especially when the Rayburn hotplate is on anyway.

  2. Big bucket of warm soapy water for me!

    1. Hello Cro, That's always been my preferred method, too. This dandelion brew is far more effective, without the need for all the rinsing, which makes it very useful for inside the house.

  3. I'm glad they have a use because I'm always pulling them out of my lawn

  4. dandelion water if drunk, makes you wee doesnt it? I know the sap from bluebell bulbs makes a glue that fletchers used to stick feathers to arrows. Plants are amazing arent they

    1. Hello Sol, Bluebell sap! Who would have thought it! Dandelion water is diuretic, but the greens are often used as a vegetable (ask Linda local alien) and the flower buds can be pickled etc., etc. A very useful plant!

  5. Elaine,
    How did you prepare the dandelion parts? Did you chop or crush them before you boiled them?

    We have eaten dandelion greens as a salad -- raw. We like them that way. Mostly, we wish we didn't have any!

    1. Hello Brett,
      The instructions were as minimal as the ones I gave. I dug up several plants, including roots. Shook off the soil and debris, gave them a wash and put them in an old saucepan and then added three pints of water. Brought them to the boil and then let it simmer on until the water had reduced to about a pint and a half. I lifted out the plants, let the liquid cool a while and then strained it into a jar. So far I am completely happy with the results. If you make a brew, I would love to hear how you get on. Good luck!