Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Harvesting the fruits of Spring & cooking with Dandelion flowers

Things have really taken off in a big way over the past month, plants are growing at a phenomenal rate, the outside world is turning green and gold.  I visited Springfield Herb Sanctuary for a workshop day on 9th May.  We had a tour round the herb plots to see the growing herbs, some of which have grown massively since just a month previously.  The meadow adjoining the Herb Sanctuary was full of Ribwort Plantain and Dandelions.  We harvested some Plantain leaves to make a double-infused oil which will be great for skin inflammation as an oil or made into a salve.  I picked some Dandelion flower-heads to take home to dry, to use in an infused oil which should be good for sore muscles.  I also picked some medicinal Comfrey leaves to take home to dry to make into infused oil for a wound salve.  Future workshop dates and details can be found at http://kitchenherbwife.blogspot.co.uk/p/springfield-sanctuary-workshop-dates.html

View over the meadow

 Solomon's Seal

 Elecampane

 Hops

 Comfrey

 Ribwort Plantain

 Dandelion flowers

Baskets of Dandelion flowers & Ground Ivy


Last weekend I bought some herb plants to plant up in pots for the patio at the back of my house.  The patio is sheltered and gets lots of sun which aromatic Mediterranean herbs such as Rosemary love.  Most of the herb plants available at the garden centre I visited were herbs mainly used for culinary use such as Chives, Mint, Oregano & Thyme, though I did manage to find some St John's Wort plants which have been added to the medicinal herb bed at the allotment.  

I harvested a big bag of Nettles as they are beginning to develop flowers and the leaves will be too tough and irritant to use after they have flowered.  I put some of the Nettles in a big jar with some egg shells and cider vinegar to make a mineral-rich vinegar to be left to steep for 3-6 weeks then strained for use in liver-stimulating salad dressings, see recipes at http://herbalacademyofne.com/2014/03/stinging-nettle-recipes/  I also put some Nettles in a jar with vodka to make a tincture which will be left to steep for about a month then strained through a jelly bag.  This can be used internally as an iron tonic and to promote urine flow or externally to help stop bleeding and to soothe burns & other skin problems.  The remaining Nettles have been loaded into the dehydrator to dry for teas & infusions for external use and to add to food in powdered form.  

I picked a selection of fresh leaves & flowers to use in salad, including Wild Garlic, Sweet Cicely, Salad Burnet, Ground Elder, Sorrel which are all growing in the allotment at the moment.  I also picked a bag of Dandelion flower heads to catch the goodness of the flower petals before they all turn into Dandelion clock seed-heads.  I made Dandelion flower cookies, pakoras and burgers with the flower-heads I harvested, which are tasty and nutritious ways to get the benefit of these sun-like flowers.  Recipes and pictures below.

Patio herb pots

 The allotment in May

  St John's Wort plants

 Nettles beginning to develop flowers

Sweet Cicely

 Wild Garlic in flower

 Nettle leaf Vinegar

 Nettle leaf Tincture

Dandelion flower recipes

Some of the recipes call for just the Dandelion flower petals without the green parts of the flower heads.  The easiest way to prepare these is to hold the washed flower tip with the fingers of one hand and pinch the green flower base hard with the other and twist to release the flower petals from their attachment, the required volume of flower petals can then be put into a bowl for use in recipes.  

 Prepared Dandelion flower petals

Dandelion Flower Cookies

1/2 cup oil - I used sunflower which has a nice mild flavour
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup plain flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup Dandelion flower petals

Pre-heat oven to 375C.
Blend oil & honey, beat in the eggs & vanilla essence.
Stir in the flour, oats & Dandelion flowers.
Drop tablespoons of batter onto at lightly oiled baking tray.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

  
 Dandelion flower cookies

Dandelion pakoras

2-3 handfuls of Dandelion flowers with stems
Sunflower oil
150g gram (chickpea) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 heaped teaspoons ground cumin
2 heaped teapoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
cold water

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Slowly add water to the dry ingredients whilst stirring until the batter reaches the consistency of thick custard.
Pull the flower heads off their stalks and add to the batter, including the green parts.
Chop the stalks into 1/2 inch segments and add to the batter.
Stir the flowers & stalks into the batter until evenly coated.
Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a small pan over a medium heat.
When the oil is hot add dollops of batter with a tablespoon, fry for about a minute or so until browned.
Remove cooked pakoras and put on a plate covered with kitchen towel to absorb excess oil.
Sprinkle salt on the cooked pakoras for serving.
Serve hot or cold.


Dandelion flower pakoras

Dandelion flower burgers

1 cup packed Dandelion flower petals, green parts removed (as above)
1 cup plain flour & extra flour for coating burgers
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 garlic clove finely minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Ground black pepper to taste
Sunflower oil

Mix all the ingredients, add more milk if needed.
Divide the mix into 4 to make round patties, toss in flour to coat.
Pan fry in a little oil, turn until browned on both sides.
Serve with desired accompaniments.

Recipe adapted from http://www.eattheweeds.com/dandelions-hear-them-roar/ There are loads of other recipes using Dandelions on the same page

Dandelion flower burgers with potato wedges, spring green salad & plum chutney

Bon Appetit!

References

'Hedgerow Medicine' Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal
'Letting in the Wild Edges' Glennie Kindred




2 comments:

  1. Lovely post, Anne. Your allotment is looking lush, and the herbs in your patio pots are looking so healthy. I love the dandelion recipes. I found it quite tedious removing the petals for the quantity I needed for dandelion wine, but the amounts for these recipes look much more manageable. I shall definitely try the pakoras!

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  2. Thanks for your positive comments. Enjoy the dandelion recipes, the pakoras are particularly good and easy as you don't have to remove the green bits of the dandelions.

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