Monday, October 6, 2014

Mindful Monday: Fried Dandelion Flowers

I have known for years that dandelions are edible.  The entire plant can be used, from the root up to the flower--bud or open.  I've had homemade dandelion wine, and I must admit that it was one of the best wines I've tasted.  I've tossed a few young dandelion greens in my salads for bit of a different taste.

Now, with that being said, it's one thing to understand that a plant is edible.  It's quite another to go into the yard and harvest what I grew up viewing as weeds instead of herbs.  I've seen numerous recipes for fried dandelion heads (flowers) online and in books, but I've never had the nerve to to try any of them.

With our "yard" excavated and seeded for grass, weeds of all types are popping up through the straw.  While my husband curses them, I delight in seeing the many varieties of what I now know are herbs.  One of those this cool, early Autumn is the tenacious dandelion.

I hadn't seen any flowers until one brisk Wednesday morning after I'd dropped my son off at school.  I was scavenging for herbs to toss in for the chickens, and I noticed a few tiny spots of sunny yellow scattered throughout the yard.

I decided to be brave and give the fried flowers a try.

For this first time, I kept it very basic.  I used only a few, completely open, flowers, as that was all I had, and simply fried them in butter.  For this learning path, I wanted to start at level one and add or change my method each time.  In this way I can learn every aspect of cooking sunshine in my own way, and share it with you, my readers, as I go.  Then you can pick and choose which sounds best to you if you want to try frying dandelions for yourself.

A couple things about dandelions before we start:
  • Dandelion has diuretic properties.  This means it increases the amount of urine the body produces.  From what I have found, this seems to be mainly the leaves, but as the flower is also the arial (above-ground) part of the plant, I will reason--for now--that it may contain the same properties.
  • Dandelion is an appetite stimulant.  Again this is attributed to the leaves, but I will presume the flower does this, too.
  • Dandelion flowers have antioxidant properties.  
  • Be absolutely certain that the plants you harvest are from an area that you know has not been treated with chemicals of any kind--be it weed control or fertilizer.

On to the cooking of wildcrafted yumminess!

I melted a tablespoon of butter in my pan, then put the flowers face-down into the butter with their stems sticking up in the air.  Made nice little handles, those stems.  I made sure to coat all of the petals in the butter.

I fried them like this on medium-low heat, so as not to burn the butter, and to cook the flower heads all the way through without crisping the outer petals too much.  

The butter boiled around the flowers, turing a yellowish-brown color.

When they were what I thought was done--about 5-8 minutes--I used the stems to pull them from the pan and laid them on my plate.  

The flavor was sweet and buttery, with a bit of a bitter nip at the end.  (I later learned that the smaller flower heads are less bitter.)  I bit the heads off and gave the stems to my chickens.  There was one flower that fell over in the pan, and the stem was cooked, so I ate that stem.  I actually thought that one tasted the best.


Fried Dandelion Flowers
       Dandelion flowers (How ever many you wish)
       1 tbsp butter (real is always better)

Melt the butter in a pan on medium-low heat.  Place flowers face-down in melted butter and fry for 5-8 minutes, or until a crispy brown.  Serve while still warm.

Happy wildcrafting!

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