- February 14, 2006 at 10:14 pm #235957LissKeymaster
Eating on the wild side for free
I know I’ve said it before, but what’s more frugal than free? And what kind of sense does it make to spend money on something that’s free for the picking?
‘Wild food’ is just a food that doesn’t need to be pampered. It grows on it’s own, having adapted to the particular climate and needing no other help from us, although a little care will reward us well. It has been the poor person’s staple, the rich person’s delicacy and the frugal person’s delight. Of all the foods that grow wild, the most common is probably the dandelion.
The ‘lowly dandelion’ was imported to America as a food, but quickly escaped the settlers’ gardens. I wouldn’t even venture to say how many dollars are spent now in trying to eradicate the lawns and golf courses of this ‘weed’!
As a staple of wild foraging, dandelions can’t be beat, as there are so many ways to use them. ‘Coffee’, greens and tonic as well as wine, boiled vegetable, fritters and much more wait your taste test.
All parts of the dandelion are edible, but the bitter ‘milk’ in the flower stems is unpalatable. Eat this food sparingly, as it is a diuretic.
Here are some of the best recipes in honor of this lowly, elegant weed. When gathering any kind of wild food, be sure the area is free from insecticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Any foods growing near a well-traveled highway should be avoided also.
Dandelion greens, plain and simple
Choose tender green leaves early in the spring or fall, before the plant has set a flower bud. Pick enough to fill a two quart container when pressed lightly. Sort and discard any brown, bug-eaten or damaged leaves.
Put into large container, cover with cold water, add about two teaspoons of salt, and let set for about half an hour. This will loosen dirt and make it easier to rinse off. Lift the greens out of the saltwater and rinse briefly.
Put them into a pan with a tight lid, add about two inches of cold water and set to cook over medium heat. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the greens are well wilted. Do not drain until serving, but add a little vinegar and salt.
Dandelions are very nutritionally rich, high in magnesium, calcium, potassium, and Vitamins A and C.
Frittered Dandelion blossoms
Pick fully opened blossoms, the bigger, the better, and trim the stems very close to the heads. Cover with cold salt water and let set for two or three hours. Rinse under cold running water and set aside in colander to drain.
You will need the following:
About one inch of oil in heavy pan and about 1 and 1/2 cups of finely crushed cracker crumbs
Mix this together:
2 tablespoons of milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
Roll the drained blossoms in cracker crumbs, then in the egg batter, and in cracker crumbs again. Fry in hot oil until golden brown, drain and serve warm. These taste a little like mushrooms. Use as a side dish for chicken or pork.
Boiled dandelion buds
This is something you need to just sit down and pick. Be careful that you only get unopened buds, because once the flowers have opened and closed again, they begin to make seed “parachutes”, the part that lets the tiny seeds fly into the breeze. Pinch the buds off very close to the stem.
When you have picked a cup or so of buds, put them in cold water with a couple of teaspoons of salt for ten or fifteen minutes. Rinse well, lifting the buds from the water with a slotted spoon. Start in cold water in a covered pan and bring them to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Drain excess liquid and serve with butter and salt. Dandelion buds are diuretic. It’s best not to take tea, coffee, or any other diuretic food or beverage at the same meal.
This golden clear, delicate tasting jelly is glorious with biscuits and
gravy on the first snowy morning of the year. You can store summer sunshine!
a quart of fresh, bright dandelion flowers
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
5 1/2 cups of sugar
1 package (1 3/4 oz) powdered pectin
Using enamel or stainless steel pan, boil the flowers in 2 quarts of water for 3 to 5 minutes, cool, and strain, pressing the liquid out of the flowers gently. Measure 3 cups of the liquid, add the lemon juice and pectin. Put into a deep jelly kettle and bring to a boil, then add sugar and stir to mix well.
Stir and boil for 2 1/2 minutes, or until mixture sheets from a wooden spoon, pour into jelly glasses and seal with melted paraffin when cool .
This really isn’t coffee of course, but it’s an interesting hot drink that’s not too hard to make once you’ve dug the dandelion roots. Dandelions have very deep and tough taproots and that’s what you’re after. Scrub the roots well and trim away broken ends and hair roots.
Place in a shallow baking pan and bake in a slow oven (250 – 275 degrees) until lightly browned. Cool and grate or break into very small pieces. You can also put the roots in a small bag or cloth and crush with hammer.
To make the drink, pour boiling water over the crushed root, about a cup of water to a scant tablespoon of root. Let it set for a few minutes, then strain. Honey, sugar and/or lemon can be added.
In places where the plants have had plenty of water the taproot will be fat and comparatively short, but if you’re digging in a dry area, the root will be long and thin and much harder to harvest. If you want to go much beyond dandelions (and there are plenty of excellent foods besides that) you’ll need a good field guide.
However, if you are only somewhat familiar with this “weed” that grows so abundantly you are already able to experience a wild banquet!
Sourced from http://frugalliving.about.com/library/weekly/aa042302a.htm
(There are more recipes on this site!)
- May 5, 2009 at 3:39 am #420905
My questions have been answered here.. I was looking for some recipes to use some Dandelion in and you have enough recipes to keep me busy. Thanks again…
- May 5, 2009 at 5:00 am #420909
I just wanted to say thanks, my grandmother used to do alot with dandelions but she died when I was just three, so I wasn’t sure how to do this. Will try these soon. Lisa
- May 5, 2009 at 8:34 am #420914
wow I don’t kown dandelion is edible
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