Dandelion Recipes, 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 food that doesn’t need to be pampered. It grows on its 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 beaten, as there are so many ways to use them. ‘Coffee’, greens and tonic as well as wine, boiled vegetables, 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
When picking greens for your favorite dandelion recipes, be sure to 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 a large container, cover with cold water, add about two teaspoons of salt, and let sit 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
Another of our favorite dandelion recipes is frittered dandelion blossoms. Pick fully opened blossoms, the bigger, the better, and trim the stems very close to the heads. Cover with cold saltwater and let sit for two or three hours. Rinse under cold running water and set aside in a colander to drain.
You will need the following:
About one inch of oil in a 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 a hammer or rolling pin.
To make the drink, pour boiling water over the crushed root, about a cup of water to a scant tablespoon of the 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.
Raw dandelions greens taste a little like endive. Here is another favorite quick dandelion recipe.
1/2 pound torn dandelion greens
1/2 red onion, chopped (optional)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Radishes, thinly sliced
1 Hardboiled egg, quartered
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, toss together dandelion greens, red onion, and tomatoes. Season with basil, salt, and pepper. You can also add a touch of vinegar.
Pickled Dandelion Capers aka Pickled Dandelion Buds
2 cups dandelion buds
2/3 cups vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
Bring the water, vinegar, and salt to a boil and stir to dissolve the salt.
Pack the dandelion buds into mason jars, add a clove of garlic and pour the brine over the top.
Cap and store in the refrigerator or process the jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
There’s a trick to collecting the flowers for this recipe. First, measure the intact flowers into a measuring cup, then release the florets afterward for the recipe.
You’ll want to hold the open dandelion flowers by the tip with the fingers of one hand. Using your other hand, pinch the green flower base very hard. This releases the yellow florets from their attachment. Shake the yellow flowers into a bowl.
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dandelion flowers (intact measurement, then released)
1 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Measure the intact dandelion flowers, then release the florets as described above. You’ll be using the released florets without any green in the cookies.
In a medium bowl combine oil and honey and beat in the two eggs and vanilla.
Stir in flour, oatmeal, and dandelion flowers.
Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.
For the dandelion syrup, you’ll need to collect the open dandelion flowers, rinse them thoroughly and allow them to dry before proceeding.
125 dandelion flowers (about 1 1/2 cups of petals)
3 cups of water
2 – 3 cups organic cane sugar (or sweetener of choice)
1/4 – 1/2 cup raw honey
juice of half a lemon (optional)
Wash flowers and let them dry on a clean, lint-free towel.
Measure the dandelion petals in a liquid measuring cup, then remove the greens. To separate the petals from the greens, hold the open dandelion flowers by the tip with the fingers of one hand. Using your other hand, pinch the green flower base very hard. This releases the yellow florets from their attachment. Shake the yellow flowers into a medium-sized pot.
Cover with the 3 cups of water. Bring to a rolling boil, and allow to boil for 30-60 seconds.
Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep overnight in a cool place. A cool counter or the fridge is ideal.
The following morning, strain the liquid into a sieve over a bowl. Extract as much liquid as possible.
Return the extracted juice to the pot, add sugar and lemon, and simmer on low heat for 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Check for desired consistency by dipping spoon into syrup, letting it cool a bit, then testing it with your finger.
Store in an airtight, glass container in the fridge.
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!
Medicinal Uses of Dandelion
Dandelion Root Tincture– “Dandelion has been used historically to detoxify the kidneys and liver, reduce swelling, fight skin problems, alleviate digestive discomfort, fight fever, improve vision problems, and prevent diabetes…”
In addition to the tastiness of the dandelion plant, they also make really pretty bouquets, particularly when your little one presents them to you with a smile!