The dandelion leaves are delicious in salads and are an excellent spinach alternative. They also serve well in fresh vegetable dishes. The bacon flavor is the best compliment to dandelion leaves, and their incorporation enhances many soups and casseroles.
The crowns become a delicacy when deep-fried, and after being roasted and ground down, the roots may be used as a coffee substitute.
The flowers have many applications, such as making wine, garden salads, and fried in butter.
The young buds are rich in protein. The delicate and tasty unopened flower buds deliver a snap of green salads.
Dandelions can be seeded outdoors in between four to six weeks before the last frost. Plant seeds and after they have sprouted up through the soil, thin them a bit so that they become six to eight inches apart. Dandelions quickly reseed themselves, but sometimes in areas where you’d fancy they not grow.
Dandelions like full sun, but in just about any light, they can certainly grow. Since these plants are incredibly robust and tolerant of adverse conditions, it doesn’t really matter what sort of soil they have, whether the drainage is sufficient or anything else in that sense. If you intend on extracting the roots, apply generous quantities of compost to areas where you are sowing.
A few weeks before the leaves are picked, cover the plants with thick, opaque cloth to obscure much of the light that will blanch the leaves, reducing bitterness. The youngest leaves are the least sour and tastiest. During the growing season tender leaves can be picked.
When the blossoms are picked, pick the flowers when they’re bright yellow and young. Using them freshly to try to ensure all of the stems are removed. Put them in a bowl of cold water to keep the flowers from closing after clipping, taking them out just before eating or cooking.
The roots are harvestable at any time. Cut the dried roots into two inches long parts, and roast for about 10 minutes at 300 F. Grind the roasted bits, adding a quarter teaspoon for a fresh taste of your coffee or hot chocolate.
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