I wanted to try something new this Spring and take advantage of nature’s good by foraging eatable produce other than berries and mushrooms that I’m already familiar with. As a starter, the easiest flower to forage is a dandelion. Everybody recognises these signature sunny flowers that is a perennial herb with a long list of culinary and medicinal uses. The yellow flower and leaves are all eatable and best foraged when still young during spring time. Leaves with fewer lobes are the tastiest and tend to be less bitter than leaves harvest during the summer time. These greens are full of vitamins A, C and K and are also a great sources of folate and iron. Unlike the leaves, the flowers themselves are much more subtle in flavour. I really wanted to make a dandelion marmalade and was impressed with how easy it was. Essentially, all you need is some flower petals, sugar, water and lemon. A dandelion petal has a delicate sweet flavour while the leaves offer a more bitter tangy flavour, like spinach. Flowers are often used to infuse honey, vinegars, syrups and ice cream. I also picked up some buds of the flower, that I rolled in flour and fried in butter. They taste absolutely delicious, a bit like zucchini flowers. Dandelion flowers seem to be a great addition to sweet and savoury baked goods.
Good to know
How to make the marmalade (to make a small batch)
1 cup dandelion flowers
1 cup water
1/2 juice of lemon ( & some lemon zest)
about 1 cup sugar
Wash each flower and leave to dry. Remove the petals from the dandelion flower into a bowel. Take a saucepan and add cup of water into it. Place the petals into the saucepan and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Also add in a few rinds of lemon zest. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
Once the flavours have infused together, strain the liquid through a sieve into a cup and discard the petals and lemon zest. You will be left with a yellow dandelion water. Now, measure the amount of liquid you have ( about 1 cup) and measure the same amount of sugar into a bowl.
Return the dandelion water into the saucepan along with the sugar and bring to boil. Stir so the sugar dissolves and lower the temperature. The mixture should being to thicken and will continue doing so once cooled. Pour into a maison jar and once it has cooled, the marmalade is ready to be served.
Mascarpone Spring toast with dandelion buds & marmalade
Spread a generous amount of mascarpone on some toast. Add some sautéd dandelion buds on top of the mascarpone. To do these: gently roll each flower bud in a bit of flour and fry in butter for about a minute. Add a little bit of salt. Once the buds are on the toast, add a few fresh twigs of thyme and lastly add some dandelion marmalade on top.