Guess what we had with dinner last night? I guess the title is sort of a spoiler, isn’t it? We tried Fried Dandelion Blossoms! I have a number of foraging books (my current favorites are by Samuel Thayer), but I’m pretty cautious. I usually take a few years to learn a plant before I am willing to try it. Somehow, learning from books feels less sure than learning a plant from a trusted friend–not because the books are faulty, but because I feel more likely to make a mistake. Despite my extreme caution, however, I do feel confident in knowing dandelion flowers, so I decided it was finally time to take the plunge.
Dandelions are a great first foraging food, as any wild food writer will attest, because all parts of the plant are edible. There are a number of other plants that can look like dandelions if you haven’t trained your eye, and I don’t know about the edibility of those ones, so don’t blindly follow what I tell you–do your own research or find your own foraging buddy. I’m a beginner–not an expert. For myself, though, I feel confident that I can tell when a flower is a dandelion flower.
I’d long heard about fried dandelions, so it was time to dive in. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and decided that if it was good enough for people in the Appalachian Mountains to make, it sounded like good food to me. I haven’t reprinted the recipe here because I don’t want to run afoul of any copyright laws, so if you’d like to follow along with my explanations below, you may want to print it out so you can refer to it.
First, I went to the spot you see in the first picture above and picked about a hundred dandelions (I picked the open flowers, not the closed buds like the recipe seems to say.). Then, I left them in my refrigerator too long, and had to go repick them from my yard because I didn’t cook them soon enough (these pictures were too good to waste, though, so you get to see them anyway). My good discovery through that bit of procrastination was that if I prepped the dandelions by soaking them for 10 minutes in water with some salt (it’s one of the tips at the bottom of the recipe), and then drying them off, I could put them in a partially closed zip top bag in the vegetable drawer and they would keep for a few days. I was afraid they would close up, but they didn’t. I don’t know how long they are really good for, but after a few days, they didn’t look quite as wonderful, so I went out to our yard and picked a hundred more for last night’s dinner.
Next, I brought the flowers inside and covered them with room temperature water and a Tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes, as the recipe footnotes suggested. I swished them around a few times to make sure they were getting well rinsed and debugged.
Then I drained them and rinsed them a few times with cool water. After that, I put them in a towel, went out on the deck and, holding the edges of the towel, swung them around in a circle. This is our friends’ version of a salad spinner for people who don’t have one. 🙂 It’s great. That way I don’t have to store a store a salad spinner.
After that, I put the flowers in the egg mixture and stirred them around to coat them.
Slightly less appetizing, right? Hang with me! They don’t end up looking better, but the final result TASTES awesome!
Once they are all coated, you take half of them and drain them of extra egg, and then put them into your flour+season salt+pepper mixture. I put mine in a bowl that has a lid, so I could shake it around to coat the flowers. I bet a zip top bag would work, too.
Next, you shake off the excess flour mixture and put the flowers into your warmed and waiting pan. I used bacon grease as my cooking fat in a cast iron pan on medium heat (we had just made bacon, so it seemed like a good excuse not waste the bacon fat).
I did have to add some extra butter because the bacon grease got absorbed part-way through the process.
Then, you just cook them until they are golden brown.
It was pretty easy and they are so good!!!
My only changes to the recipe if and when I make it again will be to cut back on the salt and pepper a bit. We are a family that loves salt, but if you eat one after another of these (which you WILL want to do), the salt becomes a bit overpowering. I’ll probably try 1.5 Tablespoons of seasoned salt and 2 teaspoons of black pepper next time and see how that goes. The half bacon grease/half butter scenario worked out well, but I would try all butter just as readily.
So, what do you think? Ready to give these a try? You know, if you are a homeowner and you hate all the dandelions growing in your yard, you could just cook your way through them… Think about it! Free food and fewer dandelion seeds floating around…
If you do try this, I’d love to hear about it!