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Taraxacum officinale - Food,Cooking and Gardening - The Lounge - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Wed Jun 11th, 2014 08:23 pm
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Hellcat
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Taraxacum officinale, better known as the common dandelion. A common weed whose French name means lion's tooth. Take a look at the leaves some time as they get larger, you'll see why they called it that.

But how many of us take the time to eat dandelions? That's right, I said eat. So often we just see a weed to get out of our yards that we don't stop to realize it's actually edible. You can make wine out of them, turn the leaves into a salad, eat the roots, use the roots to make coffee. Apparently at one point in the 19th century some Canadians even used the leaves to make beer as a substitute to malt and hops. And dandelions even have medicinal properties.

Of course when I do these threads I'm usually sharing from editors Lily May Spaulding and John Spaulding's Civil War Recipes: Receipts From the Pages of Godey's Lady's Book as I'm looking at historical recipes. I was recently surprised to learn that at least some versions of the Joy of Cooking actually have dandelions listed in them. The 1997 copyrighted edition of the The All New All Purpose Joy Of Cooking, in the Salads chapter, has this to say on page 204:

Dandelion Greens: A very tart green with jagged-edged leaves the look like arrows. Young, tender leaves less than 6 inches long are the least tart and are ideal in salads. Both raw and cooked, dandelion greens have a rich, bracing flvor and are worth buying when they appear in the market.

Now normally I post the recipe I used from Civil War Recipes so folks can see the recipe then post how I made the recipe. But in this case there is no actual recipe in the book that I used. So instead of doing my usual:

Uses of the Dandelion

[1862]

Its uses are endless: the young leaves blanched make an agreeable and wholesome early salad; and they may be boiled like cabbages, with salt meat. The French too slice the roots and eat them, as well as the leaves with bread and butter, and tradition says.....


If you want to know what the rest of it says, get the book. If you already have the book, open up to pages 106 and 107 and read the whole thing.

So for the second time ever I tried cooking with dandelions. The first time was discussed in the 18th post of the Drinks thread. That time was anything but pleasant. This time rather than going for the roots and trying to make a coffee I instead went of that "boiled like cabbages" line and went out and picked some dandelion greens straight out of my yard. I will say I got older and younger leaves, some over six inches some under. This "recipe" says "boiled like cabbages, with salt meat." Now for me boiled cabbage means a boiled dinner with either corned beef or ham, potatoes, cabbage or Brussels sprouts, onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, turnip, and maybe some parsnip. However, there's also boiling spinach, turnip greens, and beet greens. And I grew up used to my mom using either salt pork or, if she didn't have the salt pork on hand at the time, using bacon.

So I decided to treat it like regular greens I'm more used to. No salt pork on hand so I used some bacon. I rinsed the dandelion greens as much as possible and then boiled them with the bacon. Probably should have added a little salt to the water. Anyway I obviously boiled the bacon and the greens until the greens looked like what I'm used to for boiled greens. And ten the all important tasting.

What the Joy of Cooking says about it being tart isn't a joke. Because there was no large central stem I didn't bother cutting out the stem on the leaves. I'm thinking that's where the tart, bitter flavor actually comes from, would have to try it again with the stems removed to see if that flavor is still there. But on the first one I tried, in fact the only one that was tart and bitter for me, the first flavor I got was very reminiscent of spinach. Something I'm not a particular fan of but will eat if I have to. Especially as I was raised to eat it, which is with plenty of vinegar, preferably either malt vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

My mom can eat greens like spinach, turnip greens, or beet greens with or without vinegar, usually without and a little hot sauce added. But I've never been able to eat them without vinegar. She tried to get us to eat our greens as kids, but the only way she could ever us to eat them was with vinegar to mask the flavor. I mean throw the greens into like a minestrone or an Italian wedding soup and I don't care, I don't mind creamed spinach. Yet just boiled greens I have to have vinegar to it. So after I tasted that one leaf I added apple cider vinegar. Didn't notice any tart or bitter flavor after that.



 Posted: Fri Jun 13th, 2014 08:51 pm
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wondering
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I have many wild hares running around my neighborhood. One old fella has been hanging in my yard for years. There are plants he might eat here, tulip buds, sweet grass, garden sprouts, lilies and petunias, yet whenever I sneak up on him unawares, inevitably I catch him eating his favorite dish: those delicious (and trust me, ever so rare) dandelion leaves!

Haven't tried them yet -- Mom used to make us eat cooked beet greens, bleck! I hope to avoid the yellow poppies for awhile, but thanks for the food tips, Hellcat. Up on the mountain of necessity, never know what a guy may take to eating. Good information comes in handy when you least expect it. ;)



 Posted: Sat Jun 14th, 2014 06:39 am
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Hellcat
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Apple cider or malt vinegar, Wondering. I can't realy take the taste of beet greens either, even with salt pork or bacon in them. Same goes for spinach and turnip greens. Unless in a soup like I mentioned. Well spinach I can eat creamed spinach which masks the flavor. But straight up greens I just can't do without the vinegar. My mom, she can eat her greens plain or with hot sauce, just as I said above. I could never do that, the flavor's off putting for me and unless it's buffalo wings or hot and sour soup I really don't do hot sauce (well the hot and sour more has to be home made and the hot sauce is actually Mongolian Fire Oil). But vinegar is a wonderful thing. Maybe I should try a little red wine or balsamic vinegar with my greens some time. Well more the balsamic. Balsamic, apple cider, and malt vinegars are almost drinkable to me. Almost.

Hmmm, all this talk about vinegar being almost drinkable has me wonder if switchel would be good over greens. No that is a vinegar drink and I actually do have a taste for that. A little nasty when I first tried it, but for whatever reason I quickly got used to it. Used to it enough that I would drink it in small quantities any way.



 Posted: Sat Jun 14th, 2014 07:29 am
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wondering
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I figure olive oil, red wine vinegar, and soya sauce would make them greens go down smooth, hot or cold (heheh).



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