Bloomin’ dandelions, eh?
Claiming squatters rights to lawns and gardens everywhere, while gardeners and lawn keepers do their best to evict them. It’s a losing battle, frankly. Dandelions have sheer force of numbers on their side and they’re just too comfortable in the open, sunny, newly turned sod of the garden.
I, however, have a cunning plan. I happen to know that my yellow-headed tenants are blessed with lots of edible possibilities, therefore I shall simply eat them. Ha!
In fact, I might even advertise for more dandelions to move in:
“Young dandelion leaves, wanted for salad”
“Seeking alternative bitter greens, for stir-frying and more, apply within”
“Frying opportunities for seasoned dandelion flowers, genuine callers only”
Oh yes, allow me to introduce you to fried dandelion flowers. Would that the solution to all of my weed problems were this simple. Dipped in seasoned flour or batter and fried, dandelion flowers can make a tasty (not to mention novel) snack – once you can successfully get your head around the idea of eating them, that is.
Notwithstanding the fact that I am quite happy to eat my wild garlic flowers, that I have used lilac florets to make ice cream and have eaten both stuffed courgette blossoms and nasturtiums, I will admit that eating flowers still presents me with somewhat of a mental hurdle. It’s one that I’m willing to overcome, however, so dandelions-in-residence beware. I have a frying pan and I’m not afraid to use it.
Fried Dandelion Flowers
The trick here is to remove as much green material from the dandelion flower head as possible, while keeping the flower head intact. The green parts lend bitterness, so you want to minimise that, while the yellow flowers are mild-tasting and faintly sweet.
Before frying, you can dredge the dandelion flowers in seasoned flour or dip in batter. Personally, I like the combination of dipping, first in beaten egg, then in some seasoned polenta, which is what I’ve described below. The quantities are approximate and the seasonings can, of course, be changed as suits your mood and taste.
- approx. 20 dandelion flower heads, stalks and extraneous green parts removed
- olive oil for frying
- 2 tblsp polenta (cornmeal)
- pinch of salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of dried thyme
- pinch of dried oregano
- 1 egg, beaten
- Rinse your dandelion flowers and gently pat dry using some kitchen paper.
- Place a frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, add a thin layer of oil to the pan.
- Mix the polenta with the salt, black pepper, dried thyme and dried oregano.
- Dip the flowers first in the beaten egg and then in the seasoned polenta.
- Fry in batches, stalk side up, for around 3 minutes or until golden. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
- Eat as a snack or use to surprise, and maybe even delight, unsuspecting family and friends.
- You can vary the herbs to suit your taste or go all out by dipping the flowers in an eggy batter and deep frying them.
- Snack for 2-3
Perhaps we should talk, not so much about edibility as drinkability when it comes to dandelions. The flowers have long been used to make dandelion wine, the leaves to make dandelion tea and the slow roasted roots to make dandelion coffee.
I have yet to try dandelion wine, but I can tell you that my attempt at dandelion coffee tasted bitter and soupy, so I don’t think I’ll be trying that again. My dandelion tea, on the other hand, made as described to me by my mother, was light, earthy and far more palatable. She remembers it being made as a drink during that period of wartime privation known here as The Emergency.
As dandelions are known to be a diuretic, this is probably something that you will want to avoid drinking in extremely large quantities.
- small dandelion leaves – 10 small leaves should make around 1 tsp of dried, crumbled leaves, enough for one cup of tea
You’ll also need:
- A baking tray to hold the leaves in a single layer.
- Preheat your oven to 90C.
- Wash your dandelion leaves, then place in a single layer on a baking tray and into the oven until the leaves are dry and crispy, around 7-10 minutes.
- Remove the dandelion leaves and crumble them, discarding the midribs.
- In a mug or cup, pour boiling water over about a tsp of crumbled dandelion leaves and leave to infuse for about 5 minutes, before straining and drinking.
- You can vary the strength as you wish – I found that this amount made a light tea that was not too bitter, but you may wish to experiment to find a strength that suits your taste.
- Cup of dandelion tea for one.