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Spring In A Bottle

April 25, 2012

I was so excited to see a field full of the bain of nearly every gardener the other day.  I added an unscheduled stop.  The kids and I spent 15 minutes picking as many little bits of sunshine we could.  Then we went home and put this magical little flower in jars.  Three with olive oil to make a lovely herbal oil which we will one day turn into salve.  Two are our first effort at Dandy Lemonade – at least that’s what I am calling it.

Here they all are sitting in the sun to infuse.

Did you guess what it is yet?

Yes, it’s the ubiquitous dandelion.  You might be surprised to learn that dandelion has a whole host of herbal virtues.  Or maybe, like me, you have seen dandelion greens at your local upscale natural market for $6.99 a pound!  Someone must think they are nutritious if they are going to charge that much for weeds!  Did you know they are the same as those greens you can pick in a weedy yard?

You can find a great description of dandelion’s uses and how to identify them in Susan Weed’s book, Healing Wise.

We don’t have much of a taste for fresh dandelion greens around here in salad as they are very bitter, but our guinea pigs find them to be scrumptious.  I have been using dried dandelion leaf in most any soup that has a strong enough flavor to tolerate the bitter addition.  Sometimes a little bitter is just what a hearty soup needs.

And we know that dandelion is considered a whole body tonic and has many medicinal effects.  I am going to use the salve for aches and pains and whenever I feel the need for a little sunshine in my life.  We will harvest roots in the fall.  Roasted, they make a lovely dandelion coffee that is very good for you.

We used this recipe from John and Kimberly Gallagher’s Learning Herbs site for the spring dandelion drink, dandelion lemonade.  It was hard for me to believe that it would taste good, frankly.  The smell of dandelion flowers is….shall we say pungent?  Yes, I think we shall.  But that is nothing that a little lemon and sweetener can’t improve.  In fact, I think it’s really tasty.  And the guinea pigs did enjoy the flowers that came from the lemonade!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Andy permalink
    April 29, 2012 8:10 pm

    They key to harvesting non-bitter dandelion leaves is getting the leaves in young plants, before they flower. Once they flower, the ultimate treat is dandelion fritters:

    1 c water, 1 egg, 1 c flour. Mix it up, dip the flowers in the batter and fry ’em. Yum beyond yum. Try to use just the petals, removing as much green as possible including the green bits underneath the flower.

  2. April 29, 2012 8:21 pm

    I have made dandelion fritters before and liked them, but no one else around here likes them. Alas. And now that my family is avoiding eggs, it’s a nonstarter for us. But I am glad they suit you and that it certainly a useful dandelion recipe! I am going to have to beg to differ on the dandelion leaves, though. I find them to come in two forms: bitter and more bitter! But they are oh, so good for us. And sometimes a little bitter taste is good, too.

  3. Andy permalink
    April 30, 2012 7:33 am

    To get the health benefits of these wonderfully prolific, free, plants, you can also try ’em steamed or sauted. Sauted in garlic and olive oil covers the bitterness pretty nicely. Or steam them and drizzle sweet and sour sauce – some vinegar and brown sugar – over the steamed greens.

  4. May 5, 2012 8:42 pm

    What a great idea – I can’t wait to try it!!!

  5. May 14, 2012 9:39 pm

    I wish more people would think like you instead of filling their grass with chemicals to kill the dandelion!

    • May 14, 2012 10:50 pm

      Indeed! I am always asking my husband, please don’t pull any of the weeds in the yard! I am pretty sure it makes him crazy.

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