Haven’t you noticed? All the lawns and fields seem to have large spots of yellow.
Unless you are the type who doesn’t care if you have dandelions all over, the yellow blossoms mean it is already too late for some things, but not necessarily too late for other uses.
The blossoms or buds can be a most delectable dish and it’s very nutritious if you pick the bud, strip off the green and deep fry it for two minutes after rolling it in batter of egg and seasoned flour cracker crumbs. Squash blossoms are prepared similarly and are just as delicious and nutritious.
We don’t need to elaborate on the tonic from the dandelion blossoms, leaves or roots when wine is made. The “liquor” is both sweet, pure and potent when it is made from the right recipe. We have enjoyed dandelion wine served in several homes on occasion and it is indeed most delicious. The wine I’m referring to is the one made with oranges, lemons, sugar and other ingredients that make it fruity and sweet.
The dandelion greens are full of iron and are natural spring tonic, either eaten raw in a tossed salad or cooked, there is as much nutrition as spinach or other greens. Cooked with bits of bacon or pork, a clove of garlic and served with oil and vinegar they make a delicious side dish.
It doesn’t take much time to gather enough dandelions for a meal and they are easy to clean. Years ago you would see housewives going up the Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks in Canastota or alongside the New York Central tracks to gather their morning harvest of clean dandelion greens. This was a great spot, also for trekking along later on picking wild strawberries and blackberries. The taste of wild berries is the best. They still grow in abundance on the line, but the overgrowth discourages many from venturing after them.
This is the time of year when people can use a tonic. The weather is warmer and your blood needs thinning and purifying. My grandmother would have her jar of molasses out that she had mixed earlier in anticipation of the weather and her homemade spring tonic.
Before school each morning we would be made to take a teaspoon of it telling us it was to clean our blood. There are times when I wonder if I shouldn’t go back to trying the tonic in the springtime especially when you are feeling logy.
Other spring tonics are cowslips, which were never too popular with our family. There was also a green that grows on the muck called “wild rappi.”
I remember when the muck was in its heyday and onions grew in abundance all down the roads on every side where it had been cultivated, we would go with other friends and gather this to take home, clean and cook much like dandelions, but it had a much nicer flavor and wasn’t bitter as dandelions have a tendency to be if you aren’t careful in the way you pick them.
Fixed with a little olive oil, a few garlic slices and other herbs, greens are good for you.