Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dandelion Dreams

Is there really any other flower more sublime than the dandelion? Oh, sure, there is the bold rose with its lovely fragrance. A vast array of perennial flowers bless my garden; echinacea, peony and bee balm. Their wild sisters; Daisy, Indian paint brush and Black Eyed Susans, are great for gathering into summer bouquets. Sun flowers are truly wonderful. But I have thing for dandelions.

When I was a child I have memories of concocting magic potions from dandelion heads. I used to cringe when a boy would grab the flower and say, "Momma had a baby and it's head popped off" and decapitate the flower from its milky stem. I used to weave those stems and flowers into garlands for my hair.

Now as an adult with a home of her own I am warding off the man with the mower. "No dear, you can't mow until the dandelions have passed." Each morning I walk along the orchard and collect the young greens for the dehydrator and a salad for later in the day. This past week I collect the heads for a small batch of dandelion wine. A wine we will enjoy next spring when it is fully matured. I dig dandelion roots to make a tincture of dandelion.

According to Deb Soule, in her book A Woman's Book of Herb's, Dandelion root tea or tincture is "valuable for woman going through menopause to take on a regular, long term basis for helping regulating hormone changes." Dandelion is also great liver tonic which helps with the transition from a winter diet; heavy in fats and meat, to a spring/summer diet that is lighter and filled with more fresh veggies.

Dandelions are the perfect wild food. Abundant, easy to identify, and most parts of the dandelion are edible. The greens make salads and teas, the flowers can be cooked to make a tempura, and the roots can be used as a coffee substitute. In terms of food storage it is a nice crop to start the preservation season with. This blog post has a great recipe for dandelion jelly I would like to try. Alas we are supposed to have a week of rain. I hope there will still be blossoms to pick after the rain has ended so that I can try it.

I am just a sucker for a cheerful splash of yellow on a canvas of spring green:)


Wendy said...

Thanks for these ideas on using dandelions--I'd like to give several of them a try! We're starting off with lots of rain here, too, but maybe we'll get some sun in a couple of days. I'm learning to put the garden in between rain showers ):

Kelly said...

I haven't eaten dandelions but my goats and sheep think they are the most divine treat. Let us know how the wine comes out.

Fleecenik Farm said...

Kelly, I think the dandelin greens must be a great liver tonic for them too. Especially this time of year when flukes can be an issue. I have made dandelion wine before. It is pretty good. One year it was really sweet and we used it for spritzers. This year I am using local honey in an effort to make most of my preservation efforts local.

Wendy, we have blackfly season here. Nasty little beasties. So I get a lot of my early crops in as early as I can. So although I would rather be in the garden now. I can wait a little while. Our last frost date in next weekend and then I will have to get busy again with the warm weather crops. So I guess with all the rain I COULD do some spring cleaning...if I have to:)

doglady said...

I like to cook my Dandelions. I first cook some salt pork in water and then add potatoes. When they are almost cooked I stuff the pot with dandelions. This year, I cooked two 5 gal buckets so I could freeze some for the winter. Yummy! I have also fed four 5 gal. buckets to my chickens.