“I have made a satisfactory dinner of a dish of purslane which I gathered and boiled. Yet, men have come to such a pass that they starve, not for want of necessities, but for want of luxuries.”
-Henry David Thoreau
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
The Dandelions are coming! The Dandelions are coming!
With another winter storm barreling down on the southeast United States it is hard to imagine spring ever getting here! Believe it or not, it just two short weeks we will probably see the first signs of plants returning to life. One of the earliest edible plants to arrive is the Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale. Of course you could be hip and run to Whole Foods and purchase the California grown greens for outrageous amounts of money, but why bother when you could practically walk the parking lot and pick them? It is so much more satisfying to find a nice field and collect them yourself. The benefits of Dandelion are its abundant nature and that every part of it can be eaten. It is a good source of Phosphorus, Folate, Copper and Magnesium, and an excellent source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Iron, Calcium, Manganese and Potassium. It has been used traditionally in herbal medicine to benefit the liver.
Some of the more common nutritional uses have been the flower and greens in salads, the flowers for tempura, breads, jellies and wine, the greens as a pot herb, and the roots roasted for a coffee substitute. It makes one wonder why such a usable and available plant ever fell out of fashion? I suspect that its very abundance prevented its promotion in the super markets and with the public's increasingly distancing itself from the growing and producing of food, it has been forgotten. Now it is relegated to high end grocery stores as a novelty, sold to people who would not even consider picking it themselves.
If you plan on picking and using Dandelions, here is a couple of tips. Avoid any areas that may have been sprayed for weeds and do not pick next to roadways, train tracks or utility poles. Choose only the lightest colored leaves. The darker the leaf, the more bitter the flavor. Also, if you are using the yellow flower portion, remove as much of the green portion surrounding the yellow as it is bitter. It is easiest to remove it with scissors. A little green remaining is acceptable. If a recipe calls for a certain number of Dandelion petals, you must pick twice that amount in flowers. You may also be interested in know that jellies and syrups made with the flower surprisingly taste just like honey. The greens are similar to endive.
With Dandelion season just around the corner, here are some great recipes to try!
Quantities of each ingredient based on availability and desired amount!
Dandelion greens bacon salt and pepper
Wash greens thoroughly and boil for 15 minutes.
While greens are cooking, fry bacon until it is crisp. Remove bacon and crumble. Drain half of the grease.
Add drained greens to pan and cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve topped with bacon crumbles.
1 1/2 cup packed chopped dandelion greens 1/3 cup minced onion 2 sliced hard boiled eggs 2 T bacon drippings 2 T flour 3/4 c water 2 1/4 c milk 3/4 t salt 1 T vinegar 2 t sugar
Add bacon drippings to skillet and heat. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon while it's absorbed into the bacon fat, making a roux. Cook the roux for another 3-4 minutes, but don't let it brown. Slowly whisk in water, milk, salt, vinegar and sugar. Simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and add chopped greens, onion and eggs. Serve hot.
4 cups flour 4 t baking powder 1 t salt 1 cup sugar 2 cups Dandelion petals, green base portion removed 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 eggs 2 3/4 cups milk
Preheat oven to 375. In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients, including dandelion petals. In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just blended.
Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until done.
3 cups Dandelion petals, green base portion removed 3 cups water 6 cups sugar 1/4 c lemon juice 2 packages of liquid pectin (3 oz each)
Gather the flowers and remove the green portion. You will need 6 cups of flowers to get 3 cups of petals. The easiest way to remove the green portion is to clip it off with scissors. A little green remaining is okay. Too much green will make it bitter.
Bring water to boil and remove from heat. Add flowers. Refrigerate overnight.
Strain liquid and add to pot. Add sugar and lemon juice and bring to a rolling boil. Add pectin and cook for one minute and remove from heat.
Pour into hot sterilized jars filling to 1/4" headspace. Wipe rims and add lids and rings. Process 10 minutes in hot water bath.
Dandelion Green Pesto
1 1/2 cups Dandelion Greens, washed and chopped 1 cup olive oil 4 cloves of garlic 6 T walnuts 1 1/2 t salt 2 1/2 oz Parmesan or Romano Cheese
Add ingredients to food processor and blend. Store in refrigerator for up to four days or freeze up to two months. Ideas for use include serving with pasta, sauce over baked chicken breasts, pizza sauce, or with potatoes.