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Wales, United Kingdom
Documenting one couple's attempts to live a more self-sufficient life.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Experiments with Flowers 1: Dandelions

Having not planted many vegetables this year, I'm turning my attention to accidental crops – including flowers. Looking at the dandelions making their presence felt all over the lawn, I decided to find out what I could do with them. Making wine is the obvious choice – my dad tried that once. It sat in a bucket and went mouldy, which put me off that option a bit.

I turned to Google and asked it, “What can I do with dandelion flowers?” It gave me several answers, including wine. I could dig up the roots, clean them, roast them and grind them for a coffee substitute. That sounded like a lot of work, especially as I'm not that keen on coffee in the first place. A couple of other suggestions sounded more attractive.

The first recipe I tried was dandelion fritters. It goes like this:
Pick flowers
Dip in pancake batter

There were a few more details, including removing all the bitter green bits from the flowers. Trial and error revealed this to be not quite accurate. If you remove all the green bits, the flowers fall apart. Remove most of the greenery, but leave the bit that holds the flower together. Some versions of this recipe mentioned washing, too, but to avoid soggy fritters there'd be a lot of drying involved, and as the flowers seemed to have come out overnight, they can't have had time to get dirty. Insects tend to remove themselves once the flowers are picked, so I didn't bother with that step.

Results? Success! They were delicious. They go well with sweet chilli dipping sauce.

I also tried dandelion tea. This receipe is even easier:
Pick flowers
Add hot water

Again, this was surprisingly tasty. I used 6-8 flowers per cup and left it for longer than I would normal tea – maybe about 5 min. They're a bit of a fiddle to fish out, but not that much bother if you leave them in.

Dandelions drying in a trug. Aren't they pretty?

To keep the supplies of tea coming, I had a go at drying the flowers, too. I was given a trug as a present a few years ago and I reckoned the flat(ish) wicker base would be good for spreading out the flowers and allowing air to circulate. I left this in the conservatory for a few days and the flowers dried beautifully, so I now have a tin of dandelions to keep me going all year.

All round, then, my first flower experiments were very successful. The dandelions in my garden have been reclassified from weeds to vegetables. They're quite pretty, too, if you're not after an immaculate smooth green lawn.