Wild Things in April - Dandelion

  

In a fitting welcome to spring, the featured herb of the month for the Wild Things Round Up is dandelion.

It seems to me that there are two camps when it comes to dandelions.  There are those who see it as the enemy, to be eradicated at all costs.  And there are those who delight in it's beauty as a flower and one of the first harbingers of spring.  You probably didn't have to think too long to figure out that I fall into the latter category.  Moreso now that I am acquainted with the plants nearly endless list of uses both as a food and medicine.

As herbalist Michael Moore notes, if you want to find dandelion, "In February, place a chair facing an area where grass will grow in the spring, then just wait."  But as with all foraging, be certain that you use dandelions that have not be sprayed by human chemicals or dog pee.

All parts of the dandelion - buds, flowers, leaves, and roots may be eaten as food.  The leaves, especially as the year progresses, can be a little bitter.  A quick hot-water blanching can sometimes help with this before proceeding with a recipe.  Dandelion roots, when roasted, take on a toasty flavor which is somewhat like coffee.

Dandelion is also an age-old medicine.  To find out more about how to use this plant to heal, visit my friend Bek over at Cauldrons and Crockpots.

 Dandelion Bud Capers


So, last week, I was looking at my harvest of dandelion buds when it struck me how closely they resembled capers. Ah-ha, I've never tried pickling them before! I know that great culturing adventurer, Sandor Katz, would approve of my little experiment.

I prepared the buds by stripping off their sepals, cutting off any brown or bruised spots, and washing them. I placed the buds into a sterilized jar, along with a clove of garlic, a few juniper berries, and some pink peppercorns. Next, I covered them completely with salt water, using Katz's ratio of 3/4 Tbsp. sea salt to 1 c. non-chlorinated water.

The next step was to place a small sterilized glass bowl into the opening of the jar, to keep all the buds submerged under the salt water (you can also use a plastic bag filled with the brine). This sat on the counter for five days before I thought they tasted nice and zingy. So, I put a lid on them and popped 'em into the fridge.

The juniper berries make the little buds taste very close to actual capers - piney and salty and tangy. They're a wonderful condiment.



Wild Things Round Up is a foraging recipe challenge, and you are invited to join in.  Do you have a favorite dandelion fritter or wine recipe that is a tradition in your family?  Or would you like to invent something wild and new?  If you'd like the skinny on the rules, read up here.  Otherwise, get cracking on your recipe, post it, and at the end of the month, submit it to wildthings.roundup@gmail.com  .

I'm sharing the challenge with the Hearth and Soul hop, and Real Food Wednesday.

Comments

  1. I've heard dandelions are a great herb - thanks for sharing more!

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  2. Capers. You're so creative. I've been sitting here going... 'fake coffee. Sauteed greens. Shit what else?'

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  3. Now i know about dandelions, do you where i can get this one.

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  4. The buds are also amazingly tasty sauteed in butter and garlic, if you can manage to pick that many without going nuts.

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  5. To prove you can eat a dandelion flower sunday - (we were in Southern IN and they have some already blooming) I popped a flower in my mouth and ate it. It actually wasn't too bad. Next time I might wash it though! Anyhow the kids all thought I was super cool! LOL

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  6. My Dandelion Wine is as fine as any $35 bottle you'd get at the winery, and I've roasted the roots for years as a coffee alternative. Have used the leaves in a few salads but have enough of my own salad growing in the container garden that I haven't done so, lately. Great article. Looking forward to the recipes. Come visit when you can.

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  7. Dandelion bud capers. Think I can do it with sow thistle buds?

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  8. Thanks for linking to Hearth and soul blog hop.

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  9. Oh my goodness - I cannot wait to send my dandelion eating 5 year old into the field to forage up some "Capers" for us!
    Blessings!
    LIB
    http://bit.ly/ibO3PU

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  10. We don't have dandelions up quite yet in our area, but I was delighted to see this like minded post. I just posted about foraging chives, which are littering our woods, this morning.

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  11. Okay! Something that I can usually find a-plenty! I'm so excited to experiment w/ dandelions. I've had the greens in salad, but never really gone any further.

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  12. I tried eating flowers of sow thistle and they were hairy. Are dandelion flowers the same?

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  13. Penny - It could be the thistle factor (I'm thinking of artichoke hearts). Dandelion flowers can be a little dry if they are too far along, but mostly they are moist in the center, not something I'd describe as hairy.

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  14. The one I ate was more soft than hairy. Not at all unpleasant.

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  15. absolutely fascinating. I could have local capers!!! thanks for the idea.

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  16. They're not perfectly caper-eque, but they come close enough for me :)

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  17. I was searching around for ideas of what to do with dandelions and found your site. You do some really amazing thing and I'm impressed with your creativity. I will trythese very soon. Thank you for the recipe.

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  18. Dandelions were brought to the U.S. on ships from England. Mayflower was one of the ships. Dandelions were brought here to be used as a medicinal plant. You can use all parts of the plant. Except I've never heard of anybody using the stems.

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