Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dandy Lions

Last weekend, we had a lovely time celebrating the beginning of our CSA season. Red Wiggler sponsored a potluck muffin breakfast at the farm, allowing all the members to meet each other, get to know the growers (developmentally-disabled adults), and go on a tour of the farm.

One of the things I was most pleased to see is the enormous number of dandelions growing in fallow fields!

"Um..." you ask, tentatively. "Happy about dandelions?"

Thinking about food independence and going back to basics lately, I've been planning to make dandelion jelly. When the flowers were blooming in profusion around our neighborhood, I was busy with academic stuff, Passover, and an in-law visit--so I never got around to picking anything. On top of that, all the places with great profusions of dandelions seemed to be right along busy roads. I was hesitant to make jelly with that much car exhaust. Then--long before I expected them to, the dandelions disappeared and were replaced with new blooms of some other wild edible.

Well--when we saw the abundance in the organic fields at Red Wiggler, David reminded me that we had our marketing bags in the trunk of our car--and in the bags we had a couple of plastic quart containers (usually used for bulk grains or beans, or for small produce like strawberries) that could be useful in transporting the flowers.

With son's help, we filled up two quarts.

Then, basically following directions we found on the web, we removed all bits of green--or at least as much as we could--from the yellow petals. David is a pro at this job:

The job was a lot more time-consuming than we had imagined, so we alternated who did the picking and who did the entertaining. The one without yellow hands read aloud from a great book we just found: See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America, about a family who decide to leave New York to live on a Virginia farm as if they were in 1900. What a perfect read for those moments when you're doing projects like this together.

We poured boiling water over the blossoms and went to bed. The next morning, I strained the petals, added sugar and pectin and lemon juice, and boiled the mixture up while I sterilized the jelly jars. After they were filled, I stuck them in a hot-water cannerfor about ten minutes.

The jelly is a deep honey color--a little lighter than the picture shows but not by a whole lot. And the jelly tastes like a combination of honey and orange marmalade. Absolutely fantastic--and sweet enough to send you into a diabetic shock....


Jennifer Jeffrey said...

Mmm - reminds me of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine.

Sounds like a great way to capture a taste of the fleeting summer.

Carrie K said...

Oh yum! I would have never even thought of dandelion jelly. Would you make it again?

TheAmpuT said...

Forgive me if this is old news to you (and forgive me twice for assuming you are on Ravelry if you are not), but did you know there is a Rav group called "Lacovores"? Just ran across them today.

The Purloined Letter said...

Thanks, everybody! And yes--I would make it again, and am thinking that is what I am going to do with the extra quart of dandelions still in the fridge. It is a long process to de-green the blossoms, but I'm going to be less persnickety next time and see if it still works out. I'll let you know!

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

wow! I had heard of dandelion wine, and I use dandelion greens in cooking all the time, but wouldn't have thought to make dandelion jelly out of the petals! I might like to include this post in the 'Fresh From the Farmer's Market' blog carnival as well, if that's ok with you. Best,

Grandma Rosie said...

Thanks a bunch for submitting this to the 51st Homesteading Carnival. Great post.

Joanna said...

I used the petals in cookies this year- I agree, getting the petals was very time-consuming, but it was an interesting experiment! Thanks for sharing this recipe idea!

Grandmother Wren said...

Super! Our little one is enchanted by dandelions this year - I'm sporting dandelions in my hair, tucking them into every button on my shirt - she gathers them by the bunch.
Thanks for the recipe!


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