Monday, January 23, 2012

Dandelion to the Rescue Harvest Monday

This fall, among the beets, parsnips and carrots, I dug out of the ground, I also collected dandelion roots. They were stored in fall leaves in a pot in our cellar. About a month ago, I started taking them out to force.

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Some were potted in moistened soil and left to grow in the near dark of the furnace room. A small window makes for soft green rather than yellow leaves. After harvesting these milder dandelion greens, they were moved upstairs to the kitchen window where within days they became deep green and prepared to flower! Can't wait to see those sunshine yellow blooms.

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These dandelion and chicory roots were soaked in water for a few hours than place in a freezer bag in the vegetable drawer of our fridge to sprout as mentioned in Salad Leaves for All Seasons by Dowding.

I particularly like eating bitters in deep winter as a vitamin and mineral rich tonic.

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You've heard it before and I'll say it again: many weeds are good for you and the queen of them all is arguably the Taraxacum officinale. It is hardy, doesn't take much room and requires even less care, pretty if you can get past the reflex to eject it from the earth and useful. Roots can be roasted, leaves used in all manner of recipe calling for 'greens' and petals can give their delicate flavour to baked goods or even wine. If you find dandelion greens too bitter then concentrate on eating new growth in the spring or blanch like you might endive by placing a plate over the crown. You can also harvest them in the fall to use in the winter!

There are various species of dandelions including red leaved, pink or white flowered too. In places where dandelion is grown as a green more commonly, there are some that have been selected for juicy hearts or thicker leaves such as Ameliore a Coeur Plein and Vert de Montmagny but the common weed is wonderful enough. Instead of pulling out every dandelion you see, give a few some extra love and experiment in the kitchen with this edible perennial.

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I just had to include this recipe as the pictures are great: Dandelion Flower Fritters

9 comments:

CallieK said...

I'm craving greens and this just made my mouth water-I love wilted dandelion greens with goat cheese on pasta! Thanks for the tip!

Daphne said...

Strangely enough I've never had dandelion greens. You'd think I would have. But I do hate the bitter greens. I tend to go for the milder ones.

kitsapFG said...

I wish I had a dark basement to do the pots of forced/overwintered greens. The blanching it provides definitely does result in tender and more mild greens which would be a real advantage with the varieties that had more bitter flavors.

Ottawa Gardener said...

@Daphne: If you don't mind a hint of bitter then forced dandelions have a lovely flavour and I hear the unopened buds taste like mushrooms! I have never heard of this but I must try. The petals are not bitter at all if you remove ever trace of green.

@CallieK: Sounds delicious!

@kitsapFG: I used to force them under my sink or in a cupboard. It is nice having the cellar though.

Stefaneener said...

I like wild greens and I've been expanding my "bitter" palate. In my garden, kale is such a pest that I haven't been out foraging much.

Andrea said...

I have noticed goats love dandelions so they must be good as they are quite picky feeders.
I havn't tried them myself so maybe i will give them a go.

Ottawa Gardener said...

@StephaneerYou gotta love it when Kale becomes a pest!

@Andrea: Some people find their initial taste of dandelion off-putting because of a mineral/bitter flavour. The flowers are lovely and mild so they are a good first bite. Leaves are delicious too but may take some getting used to. Forced leaves are very mild in comparison.

Mary Hysong said...

there are few dandelions around here; occasional ones in the grass at the park but I don't know what they might be sprayed with....

Kallie said...

Nothing has bothered my kale yet, fingers crossed! I have never been able to bring myself to eating dandelions, they just don't look yummy I guess. xx