Recently, I have discovered the art of foraging, when my friend Beth invited me to go foraging for violets, with our local Urban Ecology Center (we will be doing that in a few weeks, and you can bet your bottom dollar, that there will be a blog post about that too!). Living in a city, it might seem silly to find food in the wild; perhaps you might wonder, What on earth can I eat from the city?! Well, with just the minimal research that I have done so far, I have been amazed with the possibilities!
Today, Jill and I foraged dandelion flowers to make jam. I found the recipe from Ava Chin's urban foraging blog on newyorktimes.com. It is funny, because dandelions are perceived as such a nuisance. Never have I considered the "pesky" flower, as a potential food source. But with a little preparation, the weeds become a delicate and tasty treat. When foraging for plants in the wild, make sure that the plant you are getting is the one you want. With dandelions, it is pretty simple, but be careful not to take plants that are poisonous. Also, make sure that you are not destroying the plants' potential to live. Again, with dandelions, this is not a huge issue, but with other plants, there is potential to destroy the plant. Use your judgement, and be cautious.
Also, with urban foraging, especially with dandelions, try to find a source that is minimally sprayed. For instance, Jill and I harvested our dandelions, along side the bike trail.
This is my first foraging adventure, but I am excited to explore the possibilities of urban foraging, throughout this summer.
4 cups of dandelion blossoms (removed from the greens of the plant, see photos below)
4 cups of water
4 teaspoons of lemon juice
1 package of pectin
2 1/2 cups of sugar
1. Separate the yellow petals from the base of the plant, saving only the yellows and composting the rest.
2. Bring the water to a boil, and add the dandelion blossoms. Boil them for about 10 minutes, and then strain the blossom tea, and return to a boil.
3. Add lemon juice, pectin and sugar, and follow the directions according to the particular pectin's instructions (using pectin is an art in itself, and not following the directions, can cause a failed batch! Be sure to follow the directions.) The cooking jelly should boil up in the pan (careful not to let it overflow!) and this is a good sign that your jelly will set.
4. Boil until the jam is thickened and then pour into sanitized jars and quickly lid them. Allow the jars of jelly to set in room temperature for 24 hours, so they can set.
Then, enjoy! Oh, goodness. This jelly is so lovely, and tastes a bit like honey. Your friends will be shocked to know that their yard weeds can produce such a delectable treat.
After chatting with her mom, about our foraging adventure, we were excited to find out that Jill's great-grandma, who used to be a home-ec teacher, used to prepare many things with dandelions. It seems that these weeds have had a history in the kitchen, and hopefully, with our support, can reclaim their territory.
Stay tuned for more foraging in the city!