This time of year I start to get really eager for fresh produce. Given our late and short growing season (it snowed here what, 2 weeks ago?) I often look to the woods for ingredients to spice up my cooking. I love finding something in the wild to try but this time the wild was our yard. I have eaten dandelion greens before but had never tried anything with the flowers. We have a bumper crop right now and hubby was threatening to mow the yard/jungle so I figured the time was ripe to get pickin'.
The boys and I headed out with a large bowl and got to work harvesting the flower heads. In some areas of the yard I noticed several tiny ants in the flowers so I picked the flower with the stem attached so I could give them a good shake before popping the head off into the bowl. It seemed to work. We had a few stragglers but not too many and since I planned to expose the petals to heat I wasn't worried about any extra "protein" that might be included.
After we picked about a gallon of flowers I got to work. I dumped the flowers out on a piece of newspaper, and pulled out a paring knife, my cutting board, and my cheese muslin. The goal is to remove the bitter green parts, using only the petals for cooking. There are a few different methods of harvesting the petals that I have read but what worked best for me was to cut the bottom off of the flower and unroll the green bit, dropping the petals into a pile. If you cut it just right it works like this, but often I still had to pick bits of green out.
It took me over 2 hours to process enough petals for 2 batches of jelly and 1 loaf of bread. If you're going to try this, get comfy, enlist some help, put on some music, something to help the time go by quicker.
When I had one cup of petals I started the bread. I found the recipe on Fat Of The Land and it was really easy to throw together. (he also has a recipe for deep fried dandelions which sounds amazing. Anything deep-fried is good with me. Just ask my thighs) The bread was slightly sweet and reminded me a bit, texturally, of zucchini bread. The petals added a really lovely bit of color. The kids gobbled it up.
(and so did I)
I will definitely make this again.
I found the jelly recipe at Simply Canning and it's pretty straight-forward. The idea is to make a tea by steeping the flower petals and using this infusion in the jelly. I wrapped my petals in cheese muslin, like a big tea bag, poured boiling water over it, and let it steep for about 5 hours before making the jelly. The resulting color is a beautiful golden yellow and though I've read that you can add food coloring, I don't see why that would be necessary.
The taste is very similar to honey. It's a bit milder than the honey we get, but defiitely honey flavored. I'm thinking I'd like to try making some dandelion ice cream...can you imagine having some of those pretty petals and that honey flavor in homemade ice cream? Oh yeah...
What's your relationship with the dandelion? Love it or hate it? Have you tried some recipes yourself?
Happy Friday everybody, I hope you have a great weekend.