In addition to the previous post on pig farm pictures. I had a request for edible local plants. One specifically came to mind,
"What?" you ask, "That weed?"
Yes, that 'weed.' In fact I was inspired by a weed killer commercial to write this post. Why douse your lawn with toxic herbicides when you could eat the weed?
Yes dandelion is one hundred percent edible from root to flower.
The English word "dandelion" is a bastardization of the French "dent de lion" wich refers to the deeply lobed and and tooth like shape of the leaves.
I think most people know what a dandelion looks like, as it now grows all over the world. Dandelion does have a few look a likes. Unlike mushroom hunting, where a tiny difference in one characteristic makes the difference between a tasty meal and painful organ melting terminal agony, dandelion's look a likes are closely related to it. The way to tell if you have a true dandelion or not, is whether the flower stalk is branched or not. Tue dandelion does NOT have have a branched stalk. It is one stalk one flower. Also, true dandelion does not have hairy leaves.
Don't worry too much though. Its relatives like catsears are edible. They are all related to chicory. Another look alike is young wild lettuce. It is very bitter, but also edible.
How to gather Dandelions
Find dandelions, grab the base of the plant, and pull it out of the ground. A decent sized taproot should come out with it. You now hold food in your hands. Go home and rinse the dirt off.
Now to the heart of the matter...
How to eat Dandelions
Dandelions taste best when they are young and tender. They are not very bitter then. At the time of this post, its a little late for tender spring dandelions, but if you do happen to find some little youngins', they go great in a salad. They have an endive like flavor, and a mild pleasant bitterness.
It is possible to eat more mature dandelion greens, but as the summer goes on they will become more and more bitter, until the first frost of autumn, which will render them mild again.
For these mature bitter greens it is best to saute them in oil, and maybe some garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes, if any of those are your thing. The oil helps make the Vitamin A more absorbable and helps cut the bitterness. Seasoning with raw unpasteurized vinegar also helps cut the bitterness further, which you likely need if eating the mature leaves.
Greens are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Calcium.
The root can be steamed or boiled and eaten, or you can get a little adventurous, and make a coffee like drink with it.
Take the roots and clean them very well. Then cut them into pieces a little less than an inch long. Use a food processor to grin them coarsely. Put them on a baking sheet and roast in a 250 degree oven stirring often. IT should take about two hours for the roots to dry and roast to a nice dark brown. be careful not to burn them.
This coffee/tea is a excellent diuretic and great at tonifying the kidneys.
The greens are diuretic too, but not as much. In modern French, the word for dandelion is "pissenlit," which means "piss the bed." So be aware that drinking this stuff will make you want to pee.
Dandelion flowers can be put in with your salad, or you can make dandelion flower wine. I won't go into details here, as if you want to make dandelion flower wine, you probably already know the basics of vinting.
Basically you remove the bracts (green parts) from the flowers, mix with water and sugar and pitch your yeast. I've never had it. If you have please leave a comment and let me know how it was.
Well thats all I have to say about dandelions. Have fun foraging!
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