As another year of gardening and weed pulling is upon us, I believe it has occurred to many of us that the weeds we pull are
much hardier than the domestic seeds we plant in their stead. Also, many of these "weeds" are actually very useful for their
medicinal value as well as being edible. However, I for one, have been sorely lacking in the knowledge of identification,
use and preparation regarding wild plants. I am starting to rectify this situation and I suspect that others on the list might
realize that this is very useful knowledge! Others may be well advanced in "wildcrafting" as it is called. I have found the
"net" to be an extremely useful tool and have joined several lists for discussions and information on edible-wilds. I have
started out slow and easy with dandelions because I am totally sure I can identify them and I have them in abundance. So,
for others who are weeding dandies, you might consider turning the job into another useful function with several things I
have discovered. The leaves are edible raw although from my test munchings I see that the younger ones are more tender.
They taste somewhat like spinach. I snap the roots off as I go along weeding and then wash thoroughly and dry them in a
200 degree oven until they are brittle. These can then be ground even in a coffee grinder and then run through a coffee pot
for tea. Or you can boil water, remove from heat and steep the chopped up roots as well. I understand that adding chickory
root gives a more "coffee" flavor to the brew.
The original recipe I found for the flowers (buttons as they are referred to) was to just pick them, rinse well and then mix them with beaten egg(s). Then roll them individually in cracker or bread crumbs and fry until browned (which happens very quickly.) This tastes very similar to breaded mushrooms and the results can be dipped into ranch dressing, or whatever you prefer. I am not a fan of fried foods however, so I took the recipe a step further. After mixing in the eggs, I spooned ranch dip on to the buttons, then rolled them in seasoned bread & cracker crumbs and placed them individually on a non-stick cookie sheet. I baked them for about 15 minutes in a hot (450 degree) oven. They were quite tasty. Dandelions are very rich in potassium and lecithin and supposedly good for many ailments including liver problems and high blood pressure. However, I am not versed enough yet to know which parts and how to use them for specific medicinal purposes. I also believe the leaves can be dried but for what again I am still searching. And then finally .. there is dandelion wine! I haven't tried making it .. yet!
Offered by Sue.
I know how to make dandelion greens palatable.. My grandmother, Nana, used to boil the young leaves first, drain them, dip them in beaten egg and then in bread crumbs, and then saute the greens. Serve with a lemon wedge. Has everybody cringed yet from the loss of nutrients? They never even thought about those things back then. She also made wine out of the yellow flowers; maybe the alcohol took everybody's minds off of the nutrient loss. The wine was made by first making a really strong tea from the flowers, adding lots of white sugar - way more than one would normally want in tea, and adding a few teaspoons of champagne yeast (which makes a clearer wine than bread yeast - but bread yeast would work). Exact measurements aren't needed because every vintner has her own special recipe, and anyway, Nana has been dead since 1975 and I have nobody to ask. But I do know that to make wine, all you need is sugar, water and yeast - everything else is flavor. Mead is made by substituting honey for sugar. Adding woodruff (a sweet smelling herb; it is used with white grape juice to make the German "May Wine") also has a mild mentally, drug like effect. I am just passing on this alcohol information for scholarly reference only. I am in no way advocating the drinking of wine - I am a teetotaler myself - oh yes, if you distill the wine you get brandy.
Offered by Laura.