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Don’t shoot! Dandelions are your tasty friends
Here's an oldie-but-goodie from our archives. And it's appropriate for the dandelion season many of us are finding ourselves right in the middle of... enjoy!
Please step away from the pump-action trigger on that bottle of weed killer. Hey, what are you doing with a bottle of toxic weed killer anyway? Don’t you know that stuff does more harm than good? Instead of looking at those dandelions as noxious weeds that must be poisoned, pulled, or otherwise decimated, experience a paradigm shift and appreciate the dandelion for the delicious, medicinal puffs of sunshine they really are. Yes, you read that correctly—Delicious!
Up until very recently, dandelions sat on a pedestal. Instead of being dead-set on their annihilation (like most of us are today), people actually cultivated them for food, medicine, beverage ingredients and dietary supplements.
Luckily all those things that made dandelions so great in the past still exist today, and there is a movement sweeping the globe once again touting dandelions for their beneficial qualities. Dandelions are chockfull with vitamins, potassium, minerals and antioxidants. In fact, they are one of the most nutrient-rich greens you can eat. Much better than anything you’d find in the supermarket today. They also have many medicinal qualities and have been used as a blood detoxifier (great for the liver) and for treating digestive disorders, arthritis and eczema.
So what part of the dandelion is edible? The entire plant… roots, stems, leaves and blossoms (not sure I’d eat the puffy white seed heads after they flower, though). The best time for harvesting dandelions greens for eating is in the early spring before the plants begin to flower. After the plant flowers it gets bitter, but a simple blanching will take care of that. The leaves have a great spicy taste kind of like arugula and can be eaten as a salad or put on sandwiches instead of lettuce. They can also be sautéed or steamed like any other green.
The blossoms are best harvested in the morning just as they open. They, too, are great on salads, but being southern, we love them FRIED! You can also make a great wine out of the blossoms. Some people say it is like sippin’ sunshine!
Please note: DO NOT eat dandelions that come from chemically treated yards, or ones that are growing close to the road.
And just because you still think it’s not possible, here is our favorite recipe for fried dandelion blossoms from Robert K. Henderson’s book “The Neighborhood Forager.” Enjoy!
Southwestern Style Dandelion Poppers
MAKES ABOUT TWO DOZEN
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup flour
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon each ground cayenne pepper and chili powder
Salt to taste
1 egg, beaten
24 dandelion blossoms (remove the stems, but leave on the green calyx to help hold the blossom together)
3 tablespoons oil
Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly and spread the mixture on a dinner plate. Place the beaten egg in a shallow bowl, then place the egg, the plate with the cornmeal mixture, and the blossoms near the stove.
Swirl the oil into a frying pan and heat over medium heat, until a pinch of flour sizzles and browns.
Use a fork to roll five or six dandelion blossoms in the egg, then in the cornmeal mixture, and drop them into the hot oil. Fry the blossoms until crisp and golden, generally a minute or so.
Turn the fried blossoms onto newspapers or paper towels and pop them into a warm oven.
Repeat with the rest of the blossoms, replenishing the oil as necessary.
Sprinkle lime juice over the fried blossoms and serve hot.