Thursday, April 19, 2012

Foraging for Homemade Snacks: Eating Dandelions

The Climate Crusader forages for snacks this week.

It's dandelion season where I live. Almost everywhere you look, the golden yellow flowers are showing their smiling faces. While I've spent my fair share of time battling these weeds in my garden, I can't help but enjoy the sight of them. They make me think of spring and sunshine and new growth.

While dandelions have an unfortunate habit of taking root where they're least wanted, they actually have a lot going for them. They're resilient plants, remaining green long after their less-hardy cousins have wilted. Plus, they're edible, and highly nutritious. They're even reported to have medicinal properties. Dandelions reportedly treat conditions including anemia, kidney disease, jaundice, arthritis and respiratory infections, and studies have shown they can reduce obesity. Apparently the milky white juices can even repel mosquitos.


Dandelion greens - on their own or in a salad - are a great way to use a plant that you can easily find in abundance most anywhere you look. Why not just accept them and make them part of your diet? While I see the wisdom in that, when it comes to eating dandelions I prefer the blossoms. But first, I cover them in dough and fry them into dandelion blossom fritters. Then I drizzle them with maple syrup and eat them like they're candy.

(Really, what food isn't improved by battering it, frying it, and adding sweet syrup?)

Dandelion blossom fritters are really easy to make. Start by picking a few dozen dandelion blossoms. You may want to choose flowers that grew in an area where there are fewer dogs, just to err on the side of caution. Wash and dry them - I use my salad spinner for this - and pick off the tiny little leaves at the base of the flower, and any remnants of stem. Then batter them, fry them for a few minutes until they're golden brown, and cover them in icing sugar, honey or maple syrup. Eat them while they're still warm. If you're feeling generous, share them with your children.

Dandelion blossom fritters

If you're into local eating, you really can't do any better than foraging for food that grows wild in your own back yard. The fact that this afternoon snack tastes something like doughnuts is really just a bonus.

Have you ever eaten dandelions? Or do you forage for other food? I'd love to hear all about it.


Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

My kids love searching for dandelions! I just worry that in the park/ others' yards they may have been sprayed as we have a lot of gardeners around here and I think they almost always spray junk. Going to keep an eye out for these in our own yard!

Carmen said...

I just love foraging for for edibles. One benefit of not using insecticides or toxins in your yard, is that you can just get your salads right out of it :).

Some other great, yummy, healthy things you can forage for include chickweed, purslane, and wild blackberries. I wrote a few posts about this in my "Please Pass the Weeds" series.

Dea-chan said...

I actually find dandelions way too bitter for my own tastes. I've tried frittering the flowers and eating the leaves, both alone and in salads. I just can't do it.

But I sooooooooo want to! And I keep trying, and I keep leaving nasty tastes in my mouth during walks when I'm nowhere's near a drink. :-\

Truffula said...

The leaves can be bitter, but if you mix them with other greens, the taste is less noticeable. While neighbors deal with their weeds by having companies come, spray, and leave little yellow warning signs, I love heading out to the yard and managing my "lawn problems" by eating them for dinner!

Mary @ GReen Global Travel said...

This recipe sounds really delicious! Will definitely be on the look out for some dandelions to try as a snack! Thanks for sharing!

Rosa said...

I just can't stomach dandelions, except in very, very small amounts mixed with something better. But our guinea pigs love them.

The other common weed that is coming up right now, just a little behind the dandelions, is lambsquarters - and it is as bland as spinach, totally easy to cook with.


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