Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It’s Dandelion Season!

Native to Eurasia, this humble member of the aster family (Taraxacum officinale) has traveled far and wide. Cultures around the world have used every part of the dandelion both as nutritious food and powerful medicine.
One of the plant’s common names for dandelion in French names--pissenlit (pee-the-bed)--attests to dandelion’s use in traditional healing cultures as a valuable diuretic agent (rich in potassium).
Get’em while they’re young!!! The trick to enjoying dandelion greens? Harvest them young with their underground crowns attached, and clean them well. Choose a spot that hasn’t been sprayed or fertilized with agricultural chemicals or frequented by pets.
Harvest the spiky greens and their pale below-ground crowns (which taste like artichoke hearts) as soon as you detect the tiny spiked leaves poking forth. Harvest the greens until the blossoms open (the unopened buds are yummy), after which the leaves become too bitter for most palates.
Angle your “weeding fork” fork down about an inch into the soil below the rosette of three-to-six-inch greens, and sever the crown where it joins the root. Then pull the entire rosette from the ground. Shake it free of dirt, and remove as many of last year’s slimy leaves as possible.
Pay rigorous attention to cleaning the grit and debris from inside the tightly formed crown. Swish the greens around in a deep pan through several changes of water. Then cut open the crowns without severing the leaves, and scrape debris from each rosette before submerging the greens for a final rinse.
Although I add the tiniest dandelion greens to fresh salads, I like them best cooked with a couple of onions. I saute chopped onions (and maybe a little garlic) in a bit of olive oil until they become translucent, then add the greens with a little rinse water clinging to them and steam until the greens are soft.
Even as a weed, dandelion delivers The deep perennial taproots forage minerals and make them available for shallower-rooted crops. (Don’t let too many get started, though, and pull the blossoms off in the vegetable garden.)
In a lawn or field, the bright yellow flowers attract pollinators to the spring garden and provide an important early nectar source for many butterflies. LINK
Using dandelions::: Dandelion Recipes: A Wonderful, Edible Weed Another recipe for dandelion-blossom jelly

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