Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Urban Foraging: Spring Dandelion Greens and Jelly

If you've ever bought a bag of salad called a "Spring Mix" you may have noticed something in the bag that looked suspiciously similar to dandelion leaves.  Well, you were right--it was dandelion greens.  Dandelions (yeah--the ones that grow outside) are perfectly edible.  The green leaves can be eaten alone or mixed in with other lettuces.  They need to be picked before the plant flowers for them to be the most tender and the least bitter.  They are still bitter--I won't lie--Jeremy and I were sampling our patch in the backyard yesterday.  But added to a mix of lettuces and with a nice vinaigrette dressing they could make fore a completely edible salad.  And hey--they are free.

You always want to make sure they haven't been sprayed with chemicals or anything, but most places that you see overgrown with dandelions don't have that problem (or they wouldn't be there). 

I've wanted to make Dandelion Blossom Jelly since I first saw the idea a year ago.  (And violet jelly, maybe that's next.)  I love the idea of foraging the unimpressive and turning it into something useful for my family.

 Though I was doubtful--we found enough dandelions in just our yard.  This is great since we know our yard is un-sprayed.

4 cups of blossoms.

Grab the base of the bud. with scissors cut off the top of the dandelion.  This is just petals, let them fall into a bowl and discard the green bud.  You should end up with around 2 cups of petals. 

Dandelion Jelly
3 cups boiling water
2-3 cups dandelion petals
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 box Sure*Jell pectin
4 1/2 cups sugar

Pour boiling water over petals.  Allow mixture to steep a few hours until it has returned to room temperature and taken on a nice yellow color.  Strain water into a liquid measuring cup.  Add lemon juice and any additional water needed to bring total to 3 cups dandelion infused water. 

Follow directions for making "cooked jelly" from the pectin box for instructions on adding the pectin and sugar and water-bath processing the jars. 

The jelly is delicious.  I've heard it described as tasting like straight honey.  If you've ever eaten one of those flavored honey sticks at the market I would say that's an accurate comparison. 

I took the advice of Marisa and canned the jelly in a variety of jars, so I have different options for presentation or gifting.

I love the sunny color and think the whole project is just perfectly novel!


Charlotte said...

Wow, this is such a great idea! I love unusual gifts like this.

Blue Skies,
Charlotte xo

arianne said...

Wow. I love this and want to try it right away. I'm pinning it so I won't forget. Thanks for sharing!


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