Have you ever wondered if Mother Nature has lost her freakin’ mind? Totally my train of thought the last few weeks, as we’ve been hit with snow, wind, sleet, rain, hail, and sunshine – all within a few days (and sometimes hours!) of each other! Ahhhh! Make up your mind, already!
But! There IS one redeeming quality that has me singing her praises and shouting to the falling snow, “THINK SPRING!” That, my friends, is the arrival of dandelions! I know, I know. They’re the bane of average home-owner’s existence. But, honestly, since I learned about their amazing qualities, they’ve seriously become one of the things I look forward to most when Spring hits and the world starts waking back up from it’s frosty sleep.
So, what’s so great about them? Here are a few ideas to get you interested in hoarding, rather than trying to kill off, those beautiful little nuggets of gold that pop up for FREE in your yard!
Dandelion Jelly: Yep. You can make jelly from the blossoms. Not going to lie – it’s a bit labor-intensive. But, it’s totally worth it. Trust me on this. It’s super easy. Just gather up the blossoms. You CAN cut off the petals and just use those, but I cheat and use the whole head. If you just use the blossoms, the resulting jelly will be a lot lighter and more yellow – instead of the dark amber I have here. But, honestly, I’m too lazy for that, and it tastes the same, anyway, so amber it is for me.
Use the recipe for mint jelly on the Sure-Jell box (or your preferred brand of pectin.) but replace the amount of mint leaves with an equal amount of dandelion blossoms/heads. The resulting goodness will WOW even the toughest critics!
What about the leaves, you ask? Well, I have an idea for those, too. Ferment them! If you’ve ever eaten dandelion greens in a salad, etc, you know they’re a little bitter. But, fermented dandelion greens actually knock out a lot of that bitterness. It ends up tasting more like regular spinach. If you ferment them for a while (like for sauerkraut), then they’ll be pickled-tasting, and that’s pretty yummy, too! All you have to do is clean them, chop them, and mash the leaves with some SEA salt (a tablespoon per quart of greens) until they’re quite limp.
It’s the same process as if you were making sauerkraut. Then pack the jars with the greens. If there isn’t any brine to cover the dandelion greens, you’ll need to add some. Just dissolve a tablespoon of sea salt in a quart jar of cool water and pour that over the dandelion greens to completely cover them. Then, cap with a plastic lid, and wait. After a couple of days, you might get some drips outside the jar or greens poking above the brine. Just clean up the drips and poke the greens back down.
P.S. You HAVE to use sea salt. Regular, iodized table salt won’t work and you’ll end up with a disappointing mess.
Is there anything you can do with the dandelion roots, you ask? Why, yes! Yes, there is! The roots can be cleaned well and toasted in a 450 degree oven for 25 minutes or so (until they’re darkened and dried out). They’ll crisp up when they cool off, so keep that in mind if they’re dark, but still soft. Then, powder them in a blender. The resulting powder can be used as a tasty coffee substitute. Ok, that’s what the general consensus is. I think it tastes a bit more caramel-y than coffee, but hey – that’s pretty dang tasty, too, am I right?! You’ll want to use a tea ball to contain the powder when brewing (for 3-5 mins in boiling water). It does NOT dissolve the solids like instant coffee, etc.
So there ya have it. A few of my best-kept secrets. Please don’t tell my neighbors about all these awesome new ways to use dandelions. They’re more than willing, at the moment, to send all of theirs my way. If they find out, I may just end up losing a good little chunk of my food storage!
But, by all means, please share this with anyone you think might get a kick out of my weedy weirdness. I would love to be able to have a few more recruits on the Dandelion Bandwagon! Keep smilin’ & have a great day!