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Free Food: Dandelion Recipes

Updated on September 24, 2017
Paddycat profile image

The author of this article is an ex-adult education lecturer and retired expat who has lived in France since 2001.

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Free Food

It's fun to forage and it can reduce food bills. Dandelions grow practically all year round, and the whole plant can be eaten, from the root to the flower head. It has a very distinctive flavour and the leaves are rich in minerals. The leaves are particularly useful for use in salads.

Some people find the distinct, tart flavour too strong, whilst others prefer it to the less bitter taste of blanched leaves.

Blanching can be carried out in the autumn by digging up the roots, twisting off the foliage, and planting in bundles of roughly a dozen roots to a box or pot to exclude all light. The plants should then be stored in a greenhouse at a temperature of not less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 16 degrees centigrade and water frequently, although not over-watered. The blanched leaves should be ready to use in about a fortnight.

Alternatively, blanching may be done in a warm cellar or dark cupboard in the kitchen. Cover each flower pot with another pot to exclude all light.

In the spring, plants can be blanched in the open air by covering with a thick layer of straw or a flower pot as soon as growth appears.

I've listed below a collection of easy dandelion recipes, but first watch this lovely time-lapse video from flower to seeds filmed by Neil Bromhall.

Dandelion Coffee

Note: Some say this coffee substitute is almost indistinguishable from real coffee, although it lacks the stimulant caffeine. Dandelion roots to be used for coffee should be gathered in the autumn, as in the spring, they have very little flavour.

Instructions:

  • Wash the roots, but do not peel or scrape, as most of the flavour is in the skins.
  • Dry the roots, preferably in the sun.
  • Bake in the oven until they are brittle and the colour of roasted coffee beans.
  • When cold, grind fairly coarsely and use as ordinary coffee.

Boiled Dandelion Leaves

Note: The leaves can be bitter if eaten alone, but can make a delicious addition to a dish of greens.

Instructions:

  • Place the leaves in a pan, and add enough water to just cover them.
  • Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and boil the leaves fast for about half an hour.
  • Drain, and chop the leaves finely.
  • Add butter and reheat.
  • Serve on thin fingers of buttered toast.

Dandelion Salad with Bacon (Salade de Pissenlit au Lard)

Note: Choose only very young dandelion leaves and don't be tempted to taste them until after they are dressed. The warm dressing softens the leaves and makes them less bitter.

Ingredients:

  • Thin slices of streaky bacon cut crossways into 0.5 inch (5mm) slices.
  • 8oz (250g) young dandelion leaves, washed and dried.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • 2 tablespoons mild tarragon wine vinegar.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • 2 dandelion flowers.

Instructions:

  • Blanch the bacon by throwing it into boiling water and boiling for one minute.
  • Refresh under cold water and drain.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the bacon until it is golden.
  • Add the vinegar to the pan and the moment it boils, stir in the dandelion leaves.
  • When they start to wilt, turn them into a warmed ceramic salad bowl.
  • Season with salt and pepper and toss.
  • Scatter the petals from the flowers over the salad and serve immediately.

Puree of Dandelion

Ingredients:

  • Dandelion leaves.
  • Butter.
  • 1 tablespoon milk.
  • Flour.
  • Bread.

Instructions:

  • Pick a large quantity of dandelion leaves from young roots.
  • Wash them clean and boil in a large pan with plenty of water.
  • Drain thoroughly and pass through a sieve, or blender.
  • Put into a saucepan with butter and flour for thickening, very little milk, and the sieved or blended dandelion.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat through and serve with fried bread.

Dandelion Roots Japanese Style

Instructions:

  • Chop the scrubbed roots into thin rings.
  • Sauté in vegetable oil using about 1 tablespoonful of oil to a cup of chopped roots.
  • Add a small amount of water, season with salt, and cover the pan.
  • Stew until the roots are soft and most of the moisture and added water has evaporated.
  • To serve, add a dash of soya sauce.

Dandelion Wine - Recipe 1

Note: The wine needs six months to mature. Flowers picked in April can produce wine ready for Christmas. Use only the petals from each flower head. Throw away the small green cup or calyx.

Instructions:

  • Pick the heads of the dandelions only and spread out on sheets of paper to get rid of insects.
  • To each gallon (8 pints) of flower heads, add 1 gallon of water, 2 oranges, 1 lemon, and 1 ounce of crushed root ginger. Tie the ginger in a muslin bag.
  • Put everything into a pan and bring to the boil. Boil for 20 minutes.
  • Strain and add 4lbs of sugar.
  • If not clear, add the white of an egg, and to make it work, put in 0.5oz of yeast on a slice of bread.
  • Leave for a week, strain, and bottle loosely at first, then tighter.
  • Stand for 6 months before using.

Dandelion Wine - Recipe 2

Ingredients to produce 6 to 7 pints (3.4 to 4 litres):

  • 4 pints (2.3 litres) dandelion petals.
  • 6 pints (3.4 litres) boiling water.
  • 3.5lbs (1.6kg) granulated sugar.
  • Juice and thinly peeled rind of an orange.
  • 0.5oz (15g) wine or baker's yeast.

Instructions:

  • Wash and drain the petals in a fine sieve.
  • Put them in a 12 pint (6.8 litre) bowl and pour on the boiling water.
  • Cover the bowl with a clean cloth draped over a wire cake rack, or two or three pieces of clean wood to prevent sagging, and secure with elastic.
  • Leave three to four days, stirring daily.
  • Strain the liquid into a very large saucepan and add the sugar and the lemon and orange peel.
  • Heat gently and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Strain into the cleaned bowl and cool to 21 degrees centigrade (70 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Stir the lemon and orange juice into the mixture.
  • Strain the liquid into an 8 pint (4.5 litre) fermentation jar, filling it to about three quarters full.
  • Crumble the yeast lightly and sprinkle into the liquid.
  • Fit an airlock and leave until fermentation ceases, racking as necessary.
  • Bottle and store.
  • Leave for six months or longer before drinking.

Comments

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    • Paddycat profile imageAUTHOR

      Annabelle Johnson 

      8 years ago from Charente, France

      Thanks for your comment Carmen. I have sympathy with your husband. It is irritating to see them growing in your lawn. Dandelions do seem to have an amazing power to wind people up. It's not an ugly plant, but I suppose it's just that it's so strong and prolific. That's why I find it so satisfying hooking the wretched things out, and once that's done, it seems sensible to make use of them.

    • Carmen Borthwick profile image

      Carmen Borthwick 

      8 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C.

      Interesting hub. I remember as a kid hearing neighbours talking about dandelion wine and as an adult heard people saying how delicious they are. My husband would get a kick out of this and probably try to start a business selling all the %#@*& ones that grow in his lawn.... it isn't a love/hate relationship... just hate!

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