FRIED DANDELIONS

Excellent dandelions to fry, without the

Excellent dandelions to fry, without the “violet” weeds.

More good dandelions for frying, but not with the bee.

More good dandelions for frying, but not with the bee.

When I was growing up and looked forward to something in the future, my dad would remind me not to wish my life away, but enjoy today and make the most of it.

He was right, bless his heart, but today I can’t resist telling you to look forward to—and also prepare for—three special days. Stay with me here; there will also be a recipe for you gourmets with a hankering for an unusual yellow delicacy.

Here are the special days at the beginning of May that you might want to circle on your calendars: May 1st and 2nd are Dandelion Days; May 3rd is Garden Meditation Day; and (drum roll, please) the first Saturday in May is World Naked Gardening Day.  If you want to combine celebrations and spend May 2nd and 3rd meditating in your garden while also contemplating your navel, go for it. I’ll focus on Dandelion Days. Classis cover: Dandelion Wine

Many years ago, Ray Bradbury wrote a novel titled DANDELION WINE. In this story about the simple joys of small town life, the main character, Douglas Spaulding, has a grandfather who makes dandelion wine. He packs the joys of summer into every bottle. (There’s more to the plot, but I don’t want to have to give a Spoiler Alert.)

My mother has never been much of a wine drinker…and never a wine maker. But she knew that, for me, dandelions were the happiest sign of spring. I was the child who picked lots of dandelions, arranged them in jelly glasses, and left them on window ledges and tables around the house. I was also known to rub the blossoms on my hands and face to make “beautiful” yellow circles. (I was just a child, okay?)

She and I didn’t make Dandelion Wine, but we did concoct a recipe for Fried Dandelions.

~ Gather a lot of fresh (never sprayed for weeds) dandelions with firm yellow blossoms.

~ Remove stems, wash blossoms and set aside in cold water.

~ In a saucepan, combine chopped scallions (or leeks), and a handful of chopped walnuts or pecans with enough olive oil or melted butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Saute on medium-high heat while you shake the excess cold water off the dandelion flowers and then roll them in flour or corn meal.

~ Toss them into the pan. Add pinches of sea salt,  shakes of pepper and dill weed, and sprinkles of sugar and paprika. My mom added a little garlic to almost everything, but it’s optional if you’re not big on garlic. Add other spices you like. Stir the concoction in the olive oil or butter on higher heat until the blossoms look crispy and/or your mouth is watering.

~ Serve hot. Preferably with cold iced tea. If someone won’t try your fried dandelions, even if you offer Ranch Dressing on the side, say, “Yea! More for me,” or ignore them. They probably will also stick up their noses at other spring delights, including Garden Meditation Day and Naked Gardening Day. You can’t please everyone.

This delightful recipe is a springtime gift to you from Mary Ibbeth and her daughter Mayno. We both wish you a very happy, gourmet May Day…and entire month.

Stars of Bethlehem, another underappreciated

Stars of Bethlehem, another underappreciated “weed” ~ the flowers are supposedly medicinal, but the bulb bases are poisonous. (All photographs by Marylin Warner)

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69 Comments

Filed under Books and book titles, Dementia/Alzheimer's, experiments, gardening, memories for great-grandchildren

69 responses to “FRIED DANDELIONS

  1. juliabarrett

    Oh! I am so making this! We always ate dandelion greens but usually tossed the flowers. Once I tried my hand at dandelion perfume but I was a kid so all I could think to do was soak the flowers in hot water. Needless to say the project was a failure.
    Dandelions mean spring to me. Pity we don’t have many in California. Certainly not fields of yellow, just a pretty yellow face here and there.
    What do I miss about the Midwest? Wild plums. Raspberries. Elderberries. Wild asparagus. Morels. Oh, and Dutchman’s Breeches for my May Day baskets.

    • Boiling dandelion flowers in hot water to make perfume. Sounds like something I would have added to my “yellow spot” makeup as a kid, Julia.
      The dandelions are ripe for frying, but soon they’ll be fluffy balls of cotton that children will blow on to make wishes…and spread the seeds for more dandelions. 😉

  2. Oh the gift of Spring and pretty weeds. Although it may be liberating, I think it best that I forego gardening naked…my neighbors may have me committed, or my kids disown me! 😉 I love your tid-bits about special days! Such delightful reads – always! Have a great weekend, Mayrlin! XO

    • And a great weekend to you, too, Robyn!
      I’m not sure if the Naked Gardening will pass code in public or community gardens; maybe it’s mostly for nudist colonies. I didn’t find any qualifiers, but I don’t think it’s worth traumatizing our children (or in my case now, my grandchildren.)

  3. I also never heard of eating the flowers. If I find some dandelions here in California I will try your recipe. In Germany May 1 is a national holiday to celebrate the day of the worker like Labor here. Have a wonderful week!

    • Hurry and look for the flowers, Gerlinde. Here, they’re ready, but in a few days they’ll be puffs of cotton. Even though you carry wonderful recipes on your blog, I doubt even you could find a good way to prepare the cottony balls of dandelions!
      Our other celebration for May 1st here is May Day. When I was growing up in southeast Kansas, it was fun to make little paper holders, fill them with yard flowers or fresh flowers, hang them from the door knob of a neighbor’s house, ring the bell and run away, calling “Happy May Day.” I mostly did it just for elderly or ill friends in our neighborhood, but it was great fun, and it always seemed to make them happy.

      • How sweet of you to make people happy, as a child and today. You are a kind and gentle person.

      • Thanks, Gerlinde. If my mother didn’t have dementia, she’d smile and agree with you…and she would also tell about the scraps and fights I got into. Each day was a toss-up about what might happen.

  4. Glee Kracl

    Marylin, this was delightful to read. Being an avid gardener, I momentarily considered May 3. Just this evening I planted my shock wave petunias in my flower box on the porch. I am so pumped about more flowers and the garden being planted soon. Quite a few years ago, I might have considered the “nude” gardening. Rest assured, my age, and a bit of common sense have convinced me to not participate this year. I was glad to read of an appreciation of the dandylion, as ours get sprayed upon emerging from the ground. The recipe sounds quite tasty. Thanks for sharing.

    • When you say “quite a few years ago” you might have considered nude gardening, do you mean when you were growing up on the farm, where neighbors were miles away? 🙂
      Now you could dress like a dandelion and surround yourself with all you little grandchildren, and take early Christmas card pictures!
      You sound like you’re getting back your spit and vinegar, cousin. I’m so glad your flu is over and gone.

      • Glee Kracl

        My, but you are creative. That would be a cute card. I was thinking “nude” gardening at our home in Schuyler, after I heard the neighbor liked to watch me sunbathe in the back yard. (when I had a half-decent figure) 🙂

      • Sunbathing and nude gardening are two different things, Glee.
        I still like the Christmas card idea best, and if you hold all of your grand-children just right, you could be nude in that picture, and no on would be the wiser! 😉 But at the last minute one or two of the toddlers might make a quick movement, and voila! there’d you be.

  5. Glee Kracl

    Oops! Sorry about dandelions spelled wrong.

  6. Diana Stevan

    Hmm, I tend to dig our dandelions out by hand. Don’t use pesticides. I see a number in the garden. Perhaps I’ll follow that recipe above. Looks good. I read Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine years ago and marvelled at his prose. Thanks for the ideas.

  7. It was one of his early novels, Diana. Some of the later ones have more twists and surprises, but I agree with you, his prose in DANDELION WINE is excellent. Let me know how you like it if you try the fried dandelion recipe.

  8. calvin

    Firstly, on Naked Gardening Day (thank you ever so much for the giggle); there are somethings fragile blossoms and tender sprouts should
    never never ever see.

    I truly relate to this enlightenment of yours, as it has the intrinsic underpinning of growing up rural, specifically through young eyes swept away in the emerging spring and forthcoming summer. Dandelions magically popping out of the ground everywhere -hundreds of thousands all it once so seemed from a child’s perspective close to level compared to that of an adult. Grass was as green as green could ever be. The world, the backyard, alive from the ground up, into a bluer than blue sky, The air buzzed with bees and every bug imaginable. The breeze and birds swooped across pasture fields. All of this, if my recollection serves me correctly and think it does as it seems it has yours, leads one to believe there was no better a time to be young, even ‘young and foolish’ at the same time. Just the time of year a child just can’t eat enough of it or that is the way it should be.

    Am going to try your fried dandelion blossoms. I wonder if cocoanut oil might be good to try, as it tends to fry crisp without discolouring and they say has some enriching health benefits (I just like using it) . People laugh at strange offerings, but they sometime are a most pleasant surprise. I get that reaction with my caramelized baby yellow beets cooked on the campfire bundled in chicken wire layered in young cedar boughs and birch bark, cooked till nothing but ash and the caramelized beets remain. Sliced once or twice, tossed in a bowl with olive oil and some coarse ground salt. A far cry better than JeffyPop popcorn.

    I raise my glass of dandelion wine (apple juice) to May and you. Salut.

    • What great comments, Calvin, and yes, I think we both get it, the nature connections we make and interpret (as children, but some of it translates into every stage of our lives).
      Coconut would make an excellent oil for frying dandelions. I don’t know why I never thought of trying it. And sesame seed oil wouldn’t be bad either, just a stronger taste.
      Caramelized baby yellow beets sound delicious. Have you ever tried Hobo Stew over a low fire? You wrap all kinds of meat and vegetables and some cheese together in a double thickness of aluminum foil, fold the ends in so it’s air tight, and toss in on the coals (or the grill) until it puffs up and cooks everything. There’s always something new to try with food.

      • calvin

        Hobo stew, is what I did when I once winter camped, as a teenager and after. We never had a name for it, just something better than out of a can.
        Sesame oil, I just use as flavour, and a wee couple drops does enhance coconut oil.

      • Toss in a handful of fresh dandelion flowers and voila! such a stew you’ll have, Calvin!

      • calvin

        Bottom line, if you cook it, eat it, under the sky or the stars above, the taste is always good, sometimes even if it is not.

  9. Don

    Fried Dandelions – that’s new to me Marylin. Found your post quite fascinating. 🙂

  10. I am amazed that dandelions are edible. They grow in abundance around here and are thought of as a nuisance! Time for a bit of reeducation, I’d say!

    • Just be sure they haven’t been sprayed, Jenny. My mom was really careful to pick the blossoms only where there hadn’t been poison. And as you can tell from some of the comments, there are all kinds of oils and seasonings you can have fun adding to your friend dandelions.

  11. I’ll eat dandelions and I will meditate but I will pass on the naked in the garden day. Imagine how much sunscreen lotion would be required!

    • I love it, Gallivanta. Your only concern about gardening naked is how mush sunscreen lotion you’d have to use! In our neighborhood (our yard opens on to the playground and tennis courts of a park) there would definitely be other problems with gardening naked! 😉

  12. Jim

    I did learn in Boy Scouts a few years ago that one could boil dandelion leaves over a campfire and make a fairly nutritious tea. They never said anything about eating the flower part, cooked or otherwise. Since the Boy Scouts are the final word on all things outdoorsy, I think Mary Ibbeth was joshing you and was looking for something to keep her little girl busy on a warm Saturday afternoon! 🙂

    • Hmm, there’s some debate about Boy Scouts being the final word, at least by the Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Girls. And though I don’t think my mom was joshing me, I do agree that she was a pro at coming up with unusual and fun projects that kept me busy. Thanks, honey!

  13. Claudia

    I have never eaten fried dandelions but I have had good dandelion wine from the Amana Colonies. I have read Bradbury’s book and it is on my to reread list. I remember his writing as so engrossing! I favor this kind of story over the sci fi…although my favorite short story is “All Summer in a Day”. Ever read this one? Wow!

    • I have read it, Claudia, and I thought it was a great story. But one of my favorite Bradbury stories was “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” And as a writer, you would love Bradbury’s book on writing, ZEN AND THE ART OF WRITING. I’ll put dandelion wine on my list of things to look for.

  14. One of the loveliest salads I ever ate was a dandelion salad made by a forager friend of mine (also a very good cook). I’m sure the fried dandelions are wonderful. I’ll try them, as soon as I find some unsprayed dandelions.

    Have a lovely May, Marylin!

    • Thank you, Tracy. You, too. I’m afraid you might have to wait until next year to make fried dandelions. Here, they’re already turning to cotton balls, so it’s too late.

      • They’re just popping up here. It’s a late spring, and a cool one. I could find some fresh young ones up in New Hampshire (unsprayed), if I wanted to drive 2 hours to get to them. Here in Rhode Island, I fear they are all sprayed. This is the land of True Green, the turf company formerly known as “Chem Lawn.” They’ve changed their name to sound environmentally friendly, but they haven’t really changed their practices. 😦

      • I didn’t know True Green was formerly Chem Lawn, Tracy. It sounds so much more user friendly as True Green, but I googled it, and it still doesn’t seem all that innocent.

  15. I’ll have to stick to my neighbor’s nasturtiums, since we don’t have dandelions around. 🌼🌼

  16. Mother dug up dandelions with her trowel from soft spring soil in the meadow. She cooked them soft and dangly. Then added bits of bacon and a dash or two of vinegar. Yummy and full of iron!

  17. My mother grew up eating dandelions. I love your post because I thought no one else ate them (except Greeks)! In her family, they would clean them, trim off the roots, and boil them, probably not for long. Then they would drain them and drizzle with a little oil, salt, and a squeeze of lemon. That’s the Greek way- lemon and oil- of most things I grew up with.
    I can’t wait to show my mom your post. She’s going to love it.
    xo Joanne

    • So, they boiled them briefly, but they didn’t fry them? Then the oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon. I’ll have to try that…next year when the dandelions first bloom.
      I love how the comments are adding so many variations to fixing dandelions, Joanne. If a restaurant fixed a different recipe every day in the springtime when dandelions are in bloom, I’d be the first in line! 🙂 Let me know what your mom things about frying dandelions.

      • As far as I know Marylin, they did not fry them. But I will ask my mom tomorrow and let you know.
        Sometimes, the comments are really the bonus to a post, aren’t they?

      • On our walk today, Joanne, we saw that all the dandelions had turned to cotton balls, and even I will not try frying the cotton fluff of dandelions!
        Absolutely, the nicest bonus of blog writing is the comments!

  18. Although I know the dandelion is a weed, I’ve always loved them, Butter cups are another favorite. There’s just something about yellow, that makes me smile. 🙂 I can still hear my mother’s voice, when I was a kid, saying “Don’t wish your life away, Jill.” How right she was.

    • Leave it to our parents to remind us not to wish our lives away, Jill. And they’re right, of course, so now I find myself repeating their words.
      Give me anything yellow to see and smile at this spring! 🙂

  19. Marilyn … My Mom told me that her Dad used to make Dandelion wine. I never had any, but I’ve always been curious about what it tasted like. They are a beautiful flower.

    I think I’ve wasted too much time wishing my life away. Time to enjoy the present. I’ll pass on the naked gardening day. 😉

    • It IS time to enjoy the present, Judy, and we need to remember that.
      I wish you had the recipe for dandelion wine. I tried finding it online, and there were at least a dozen. None of them sounded good…or easy. For anybody doing naked gardening, I think it would take drinking a LOT of the wine first! 😉

  20. Jane Thorne

    May your hedgerows and spaces always ben full of wildflowers and the sunshine of yellow Marylin….I love that your lovely Mum made a recipe up for you. Hugs for you all and your lovely Mum, always ❤ xX

    • I love your blessing for wildflowers and the sunshine of yellow filling my hedgerows and spaces, Jane! I’m going to remember that. And thank you for your hugs, too! Have a wonderful week, dear Jane. 🙂

  21. We used to pick dandelions as kids and give them to mom as a gift. She always put them in water and set them on the table as if they were a bouquet of roses! It was really the only colourful thing that grew on the prairies.

    • I picked them, too, and filled jelly glasses with the bright sunny bouquets, Darlene. And, truth be told, I’d much rather have them as flowers around the house than go to all the trouble of preparing and frying them.

  22. Marylin, thanks for rekindling my childhood memories of rubbing dandelion under my chin and picking them for my mom too. My daughter-in-law loves dandelion salads, I’ll have to ask if she fries them too. 🙂

  23. Nothing like rubbing a little sunshine on our faces as children, Tracy!
    If your daughter-in-law has a good recipe for dandelion salads, unless they’re secret recipes I’d love to know how she fixes them.

  24. I like the suggestion above to add bacon. Yum!

  25. I’ve had the greens a few times but never the flowers—this does sound intriguing. Once, my father made a batch of dandelion wine. The emphasis is on once. 😉 I don’t recall him or my mother drinking more than that first glass!

  26. A delightful post. In my small village most everyone is involved in the wine making process. However, in nearly eight years I have not seen a dandelion. I will just have to forgo that pleasure and stick to our local vintages. They are superb! Now to look for Ray Bradbury’s book… 😉

    • In your village, it sounds like you already have winning vintages, Lea. From the other comments above, dandelion wine sounds iffy at best. I think you’ll enjoy Bradbury’s book.

      • It may take a bit to get to the book as there are towers of them all about me. However, it has made it to the list. 🙂 Thank you Marylin!

  27. Well, as much as I love my garden, I will be in London on May 1st, 2nd and 3rd, so you won’t catch me doing any naked gardening for a minute. And anyway, it’s turned far too cold again 😉 I love the yellows of spring, and I used to make concoctions with dandelions too as a girl! But I have never in my life heard of the delicious recipe that you and your mom made up, so creative, I must try it! People here feed dandelions to their pet rabbits, so they must know something special too. You’ve made me smile as you always do dear Marylin with your wonderful post, packed full of the fun and joys of spring. Happy Dandelion Day 🙂

    • Last week Colorado got up to 30″ of snow in several places, Sherri, but yesterday and today it’s so nice and sunny that I’m tempted to plant my garden. But here the gardening advice is to never plant seeds or young plants until after Mother Day, so I’m going to have to wait.
      Yep, the pet rabbits know a good thing when they’re fed dandelions! 😉

  28. You introduced me to a new gourmet delight, Marylin. My mother used to go out in the yard before the dandelion flowers bloomed to find the tender greens. I loved eating dandelion with sweet-sour dressing and lots of bacon. And I loved the idea that we could “garden” something we didn’t have to plant. Never considered the naked idea until your planted that thought. 🙂

    • I think it’s like anything else that others consider a weed, Shirley, there are many variables that will determine if it is a gourmet delight or a sad mess.
      But before the dementia, my mother was up and ready for any new cooking, writing, drawing or sewing adventure, and the one that raised the most eyebrows from my dad was fried dandelions. He ended up liking them (“Never complain, but always kiss the cook”) but just didn’t understand “why.”
      Naked Gardening Day isn’t my idea–it is an actual “day” to celebrate in May–but now that you have the thought festering, I’ll watch your terrific blog on memoir writing to see if you decide to try it…and then write about it. 😉

  29. I have had them ‘raw’ in salads but not had them fried! I would be like your mother, Marylin, adding a touch of garlic. I enjoy wild onions and leeks, too. This sounds like a delicious way to serve it, too. I would make sweetened iced tea and also, maybe serve bread sticks. Smiles, Robin
    My brother, Randy, told me there are 6-8 different weeds in most yards or small woodsy areas, not needing to search far either.

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