We just returned from a long weekend in Vermont, visiting our daughter and her family. Along the sides of the road we passed dozens and dozens of fields — hundreds, if not thousands of acres of fields covered in a blanket of yellow. I’ve never, ever seen so many dandelions in my life.
And it was so convenient of them to appear just this spring. After all, I’d been waiting for dandelion season in order to make a recipe from one of the cookbooks I’d reviewed over the winter. Beyond the North Wind: Russia in Lore and Recipes features a recipe for dandelion syrup that the author, Darra Goldstein, says can be poured over blini, pancakes, or even yogurt. And since I love to forage for wild foods, I couldn’t wait to take up the challenge.
But Goldstein writes that that the Russian woman who gave her the recipe was very clear that one needs precisely 350 blossoms in order to make the recipe correctly.
With hubby, my daughter, her husband, and two little ones closer to the ground than I, we made fairly quick work of harvesting pesticide-free flowers. But I wasn’t counting, and the bag seemed light, so I figured we couldn’t possibly have picked close to 350 dandelions. We continued picking.
When I’d finally decided that we might have enough, daughter E took the bag-o-blossoms to the porch and counted out precisely 350 sunny blooms. There were probably another 300 left in the bag — and still another 25,000 in their yard.
It took over two hours to prepare the recipe, following the instructions to the letter. Unfortunately, while cooling on the counter, the syrup hardened into a rock. I tried immersing the Mason jar in a pot of boiling water. Still hard. And just our luck, the 19th century farmhouse the kids live in has no microwave oven, so I schlepped the jar home and nuked it. Success! For about 20 minutes we had syrup, which then hardened.
We zapped yet again and had just enough time to dip some challah into the syrup. Not bad, but certainly not worth over two hours of labor, propane, and lots of sugar for something that E says tastes like Ricola cough drops. (Nephew Jeff innocently asked what would happen once it hit our intestines. I don’t want to know.)
I did have one thought after seeing the golden fields. While dandelion greens make for a good salad green, if scientists would just put their minds to work on ways to develop dandelion blossoms into a nutritious food (without gobs of sugar), it might just help to alleviate world hunger.
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