By Sarah Heffner.
Dandelion greens are a traditional fresh “spring tonic” that were welcome after a winter diet of root vegetables from the cold cellar and canned goods from the shelves in the basement. The greens are high in nutrients, even more than kale and broccoli. They are somewhat of an acquired taste but many consider them a springtime delicacy.
Check out this article: Dandelions, One of the Healthiest Foods on the Planet
Growing up, I enjoyed picking the bacon out of the dressing but had to shove the remaining greens into mashed potatoes so I could manage to eat them. The young greens can be harvested from lawns and fields as soon as the greens are large enough to dig out of the soil. (Be sure to harvest only from areas that have not been treated with pesticides.) My mother had one knife that was her special “dandelion knife” for digging and cutting greens. The greens from larger plants that have bloomed will be bitter in taste.
Emma Derstein’s dandelion dressing
This recipe from the late Emma O. Derstein of Hatfield, PA was slightly modified by her daughter Ruth G. Alderfer of Harleysville. Ruth and her sister-in-law Gladys Moyer had a dandelion dinner menu that was an annual tradition in their family. The menu included stewed rhubarb or applesauce, dandelion with dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, baked ham, and rolls with butter. This was followed by homemade coconut cream or lemon meringue pie and coffee.
½ lb. bacon
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cup milk
¼ cup vinegar
hard boiled eggs for garnish
Fry bacon and drain and reserve the fat. Mix together the other ingredients and add to pan with the bacon drippings; cook until thickened. Stir in cleaned and chopped dandelion greens, garnish with hard boiled eggs, and the crumbled bacon.
Ron Treichler’s Dandelion Wine
Dandelion flowers can be harvested to make dandelion wine.
From the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival Cookbook
Take 6 qts. dandelion blossoms.
Take 4 qts. water.
Soak 3 days and 3 nights.
Add 4 lbs. sugar, 3 sliced oranges, 3 sliced lemons and 2 tbs. (or 2 cakes) dry yeast.
Let stand 4 days and 4 nights.
Bottle, do not tighten caps until all fermentation stops.
It may take 2-3 weeks, depending on temperature and quantity.
It gets good around Christmas.
Sarah (Wolfgang) Heffner is on staff at the Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville.