Dandelion, blowball, lion’s-tooth, cankerwort: Taraxacum officinale
Botanists call it Taraxacum officinale, but has a lot of common names because, though considered a weed by many gardeners and lawn owners, this humble plant has several culinary and medicinal uses.
Every single part of Dandelion is edible and each one of them has a distinctive taste and properties. I will not talk about the many medicinal benefits, as you can find them around the web, but I will briefly tell you about culinary aspects. More information is in “species profiles”.
- Leaves are excellent, raw or cooked – taste range from palatable to awfully bitter.
- Ground roasted dandelion root used to be a coffee substitute – taste? From “I still regret it” to “Thank God we have coffee, now”… I was not born, yet: don’t shoot the messenger.
- Flowers: they are gorgeous, sweet and perfumed, loaded with nectar. Bees will tell you, too. As I did not trust them, I tried and tried to taste them in many different recipes…. I made two “faux honey” jars already and now I will try the jelly variation, easier to spread on my breakfast bread.
Snowing at the end of May???
It started snowing on those beautiful dandelion flowers in my lawn. Damn it! I rush ouside to pick them, before they get damaged by frost…I patiently waited all winter long for them to bloom and it starts snowing this very day, summer just round the corner?? Bizarre global warming side effects, maybe.
Ok, let’s pot up this spring leftover, you never know: Dandelion jelly, then!
Here’s the Dandelion Jelly recipe
- 1 litre water
- 350 gr Dandelion flowers (remove stems)
- 500 gr sugar
- 2 lemons (whole, cut to pieces)
- 1 pouche powdered pectin
Pick dandelion flowers, without stems, where you know they have not been sprayed. If you are enough confident with the place you did pick them, I suggest not to wash them, to preserve all of their perfume. If not (dogs, cats, manure, etc..) better stay on the safe side and wash them.
Some say to cut off the base of each flower, the green one, and keep only the yellow petals. I did not (such a time-consuming task convinced me to risk a little bitterness or greenish color) and no substantial consequence occurred.
Put the flowers in a stainless steel pan with water and lemon pieces, bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and let it cool, allowing the flowers to release their aroma. Than strain, pressing the liquid out of the flowers gently, and collect it (it should be half a liter or so), discarding the flowers.
Pour the cold liquid again in the steel pan, add sugar and powdered pectin, stir well and bring it to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes, until mixture sheets from a wooden spoon (you can also try pouring a few drops on a small plate). Once ready, pour into hot sterilized glass jars, seal and let them cool down.