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Taraxacum officinale

Just when the last of the flowering currant blossoms are picked, springtime covers us in a  fragrant rainbow of edible blossoms and flowers.  

The variety of colours and flavours and scents and shapes is a feast for all the senses.  Springtime’s edible flowers are such an invitation to forage and enjoy.

Though often disregarded as a lowly and all too common weed, among the most amazing edible flowers are the common dandelions, Taraxacum officinale.  While the bitter aromatic roots make a good coffee substitute, and the young, mildly bitter leaves are excellent either raw in salads or blanched and dressed in lemon, salt and oil, the fragrant yellow petals are the best part to forage right now.  The warmer spring days have caused masses of dandelions to bloom in meadows and roadsides and gardens and wastelands, so now is a great time to harvest them.  Take care to remove all the bitter green bits, using only the yellow and white petals to make syrup and vegan honey substitute or mead like alcoholic ferments.  Every year, I am surprised how exactly like fragrant spring blossom honey dandelion flowers taste.  Of course, the reality is opposite:  bees forage dandelion nectar this time of year, so, unsurprisingly, their honey tastes of dandelion!

Harvesting dandelion petals is a lot of work.  Today I employed two of my children, and between the three of us, we collected just 50g of dandelion petals from our garden in about half an hour.  However, these 50g will translate into a couple of jars of thick dandelion syrup, which will find its way onto desserts and into cakes and beverages.

If you are fighting a dandelion invasion in your garden, consider harvesting instead of composting them.  All parts are edible, delicious, useful and healthful.

Happy foraging!

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