Way back when we lived in Minneapolis, before we had kids, I remember Rory digging up our dandelions and roasting the roots in the oven to try Dandelion Root Coffee. So it shouldn’t really surprise me that our kids are serious Dandelion Enthusiasts. And I mean, really enthusiastic enthusiasts.
We have always considered Elsie the president of the Dandelion Fan Club. She celebrates the first yellow flower like it is some exotic and rare find. She blows the white seeds all over the lawn with hopes that more dandelions will grow on our lawn. And we are fine with this “weed” as it is the very first food for a pollinator in Minnesota after a long winter.
It turns out that Dandelions are one of the most nutritious edibles in nature. Full of vitamins (A, C, E and K) and minerals (Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, to name a few). Before they became the enemy of green lawns everywhere, Dandelions were highly sought after for their medicinal uses.
This year we took our love of this little yellow weed one step further and made Dandelion Tea, Dandelion Jelly, Fried Dandelions and Dandelion Salad.
First, the Tea. It was simply Dandelion Heads with mint leaves and boiling water in a mason jar. But I don’t really recommend it. I thought it tasted a bit too earthy…like dirty earthy. (Though I did drink it all, and the vitamin benefits are impressive.) I will say that since then, I have made Nettle Iced Tea almost every day and I love it. More on that in another post…
Then we made Dandelion Jelly. And this got RAVE REVIEWS from my whole family. I made it with Low-Sugar Pectin and we had a half-pint every day until it was gone! Rory said it had a mild citrus flavor, which made me laugh because I used lime juice in it. So maybe I just made Lime Jelly? But the color and overall flavor and vitamin benefits of the dandelion heads will have me making this in large batches. Plus, we are at the height of PBJ-everything in this family and clearly use a lot of jelly in a day.
For dinner that night we tried frying Dandelion Heads. And oh please try this! (Recipe at the end of this post.) It confirms my suspicion that you could batter and fry anything and it would be delicious. But these were really that good. Ivar actually thought they had cheese in the middle…that I had made cheese curds! It was fun and a totally unique food that made for an exciting appetizer.
And finally, we had Dandelion Salad with that dinner. The Dandelion leaves were indeed bitter, though put in a salad mix with other lettuces, they would be fine (as is often the case with the spring mix you find at the grocery store…)
I would like to still revisit the Dandelion Root Coffee. Back when we made it the first time (pre-kids, pre-farm, living in Minneapolis) I was not a coffee drinker. My how times have changed! So I didn’t like it back then because it was so bitter. But now I’m intrigued to try it again, with a good splash of cream and some maple syrup. I have this feeling that it would be great…because like anything battered and fried, anything with cream and maple syrup stands a mighty good chance of being delicious as well.
I’ll leave you with the “recipes” I used for the Jelly and the Fried Dandelions. I seem to make things up as I go, but these will give you a great start.
Deep Fried Dandelion Heads
• 1 cup flour
• 1/2 cup corn starch
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp seasoning salt
• dash of pepper
Add water to above until a thick pancake batter consistency.
• Add 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
• and 1 beaten egg
Put dandelion heads (pinch at the very top of the green stem…they can still have the green tiny leaves all around the yellow flower) in the batter, then in a bowl of flour, then back in the batter and drop in hot oil to fry on both sides. Place on a plate with a paper towel and salt when they come out.
*Adapted from one of my very favorite canning books: Can It and Ferment It, written by a fellow Minnesotan covering a ton of great recipes for small-batch food preservation.
• 1 cup dandelion petals (few to no green parts)
• 1 3/4 cup water
• Boil for 10 minutes on stove, cover and let stand overnight
• Strain petals out and reserve the yellow juice in a new sauce pan
• Add 1 cup sugar
• 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (I just had lime juice…)
• Bring this mixture to a boil and add your Pectin (follow instruction on your pectin container)
Honestly, this part of the recipe is so dependent on the kind of pectin you are using, that I always sort of guess and hope for the best. And if there is enough sugar and pectin in there, it will set up.
Pour into hot and sterile jars with canning funnel. Place boiled lids on jars. (Or just put it all in a glass container and eat it in the next week or so…)