About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Foraged Food Friday: Dandelion Flowers

Having covered dandelion leaves (too bitter to eat as salad, but good in beer) and dandelion roots (a surprisingly good substitute for coffee), I now come the most valuable part of the plant, dandelion flowers.

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale), complete with flowers

These flowers were my first step into foraging, not counting blackberry picking as a child, and feature in my very first blog post. They're still one of my favourites, if only because dandelions are such a ubiquitous weed, it's nice to have a use for the flowers. In fact, there are several uses - I dip them in pancake batter and fry them to make fritters, I dry them to make a herbal tea, and, of course, I make wine out of them.

The traditional date for picking dandelions for wine is St George's day, 23rd April. This year spring was late and I picked the flowers over the course of two weeks, Apr 30, May 1, May 2 and May 6, somewhere around four or five pints of flowers in total. I added one orange and one lemon (both elderly, say my notes) at the beginning, and 4 lb of sugar in two stages (Apr 30 and May 6). I assume I must have added some yeast as well, though my notes don't mention this. As usual, I made two gallons. Even when I wrote the notes, I couldn't remember what date I'd strained the liquid off the flowers and fruit and into the demijohns - I guess around May 12.

Dandelion wine. I need a photo is
a good enough reason for pouring another glass, isn't it?

As you can see, the wine is a very pale yellow colour and reasonably clear (actually, with a plain wall behind it, you can't tell how clear it is. You'll have to take my word for it.) Drinking this, I can see why I judged oak leaf wine to be quite similar to grape wine, because this isn't at all. On the other hand, it is delicious. Light and floral (unsurprisingly), the nectar gives it a sweetish hint of honey. Of course I'll be making it again. Don't tell any proper gardeners, but I have reached the stage of actively cultivating dandelions in my garden.

Also harvesting this week
Broccoli (one of my broccoli plants has got confused about what season it is and put out flower shoots. I'm not complaining!)
Hairy bittercress
Mustard leaves
Evening primrose roots
Oak moss

Also eating
Knotweed chutney
Crab apple and rosehip toffees
Rowan jelly
Pumpkin, including seeds (not mine)
Blusher mushrooms
Birch bolete mushrooms (both from dried)
Green laver
Black laver

Also drinking
Hopped beer
Blackberry wine
Beech leaf wine. I was saving this until next week, the final week of the challenge, but I got impatient. You'll still have to wait, though.

Foraged food challenge summary page here.

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