Spring Delights

Its been a busy few weeks since I last wrote an entry here but they have been a very productive and satisfying few weeks. I have been trying out different recipes for using Dandelions, Wild Garlic and Nettles, as well as Red Clover and various mints. I have discovered so much lately about the great bounty that nature has to offer us for free and the incredible health benefits from plants found while out foraging.

However before I go any further, I need to advise you that before you use any plant, you must be 100% certain of its identity and usage. For those of you who have seen ‘Into the Wild’ [where a young man accidentally poisons himself and dies from eating the wrong plant], you will know that treble checking the identity of a plant is crucial and could save your life. So before you pick, be sure, be certain and then check again!

I would also like to stress that I am not an actual herbalist, just someone who enjoys foraging and learning about plants, so if you are on any medication, please check with a qualified medical herbalist or your doctor before trying new plants.

Ok, serious stuff over, I have been having so much fun finding new ways to use Dandelions, often seen as a weed but a wonderful plant for acting as a spring tonic. Below are some recipes that I tried and altered. Enjoy!

Dandelion Juice

Cool off with a refreshing glass of dandelion-pineapple juice. It’s easy to make, and loaded with the vitamins and anti-oxidants that your body needs.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large handful fresh dandelion greens, washed
  • 1 tin of pineapple juice
  • 5-6 ice cubes

Preparation:

Place the dandelion greens and pineapple juice in a blender and puree. Add ice to the blender and serve in a tall glass.

Dandelion Honey

This is a very easy simple recipe and the results are divine. I use my honey on bread, in tea or in cooking and even just have a tablespoon if I need something sweet!

1. Gather the flowers when they’re fully open but before the full heat of the day. Remove the petals and rinse.

2. In a nonreactive pan, put the petals, water, lemon, and vanilla. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes. Remove from burner.

3. Let flowers steep 6 hours. Strain, pressing juice out of the flowers.

Retain only the liquid; return to pan.

4. Bring the flower water to a boil, adding sugar a little at a time. Stir regularly. Reduce heat; simmer until you’re happy with the consistency.

  1. Pour into a sterilized jam jar and cover
  • INGREDIENTS
  • 4 cups dandelion petals
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla powder or extract
  • 8 cups white sugar

Dandelion Oil:

  1. Pick one glass container full of dandelion blossoms.
  2. Pour olive oil over blossoms until they are fully covered.
  3. Using a wooden handle of a kitchen utensil, or a chopstick, carefully poke the mixture to remove air bubbles.
  4. Cover glass container with a breathable lid, such as a muslin cloth, held on with a rubber band.
  5. Place in sun on a windowsill to steep for a minimum of 2 weeks.
  6. Strain and keep in a cool, dark place.

What You Need:

  • Glass container
  • Breathable lid, such as a woven cloth
  • Rubber band
  • Olive oil
  • Dandelion flowers to fill your container of choice.

I have been harvesting Wild Garlic which is in season at the moment and has many tasty uses. It only has a few months of growth so I made Wild Garlic Oil to preserve some for the year ahead.

  1. Gather a good handful of wild garlic leaves
  2. Wash throughly and bruise slightly to release the flavour
  3. Put them in a clean jam jar, pour in enough Rapeseed oil to cover the leaves.
  4. Stir to get rid of air bubbles and seal with a lid
  5. Store in a dark place for a month
  6. Strain and keep for using over salad or at the end of cooking a meal

Wild Garlic Chicken

I discovered a delicious way to incorporate wild garlic into your food, simply, wash, dry and wrap around bacon, pork or chicken to add a subtle garlic flavour. I put slight slits in my chicken fillets and stuff them with chopped garlic and butter and then wrap the leaves around and cover the chicken with foil like in the photo opposite.Make sure to cover or else the leaves will get burnt.  Roast for twenty/thirty minutes and serve with steamed potatoes and wild salad of dandelion, rocket and young garlic leaves. Yum!

Oh and in case you are not sure what wild garlic looks like, it has dark long leaves and beautiful star like flowers and of course smells of garlic but always make sure of the identity of the plant before you eat! Enjoy the bounty of spring!

I would like to finish this post with a favourite poem of mine which I thought of the other day eating my dandelion honey sitting on the front step of my cottage listening to the birds singing and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face…

Bread and Honey

Of all the meals you can buy for money,

Give me a meal of bread and honey!

A table of grass in the open air,

A green bank for an easy – chair,

The tablecloth inwrought with flowers,

And a grasshopper to tick the hours.

Between the courses birds to sing

To many a hidden shining string.

And neither man nor maid be seen,

But a great company of green,

Upon a hundred thousand stalks,

Talk to us its great green talks.

And when the merry meal is done,

To loither westward with the sun,

Dipping fingers ere we go

In the stream that runs below.

Of all the meals you can buy for money,

Give me a meal of bead and honey.

Richard Le Gallienne

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2 thoughts on “Spring Delights

  1. I didn’t realise dandelions were so useful! I remember them growing everywhere as a kid on the Eyre Peninsula, but here in the Flinders I haven’t seen a single one. They must not like our climate here. We do get plently of nettles, though. 🙂
    ~S. xo

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