Tag: dandelion

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion Taraxacum officinale is high in vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. For comparison, spinach contains around 9,000 – 9,500 IU of vitamin A per 100g.

Spinach: Average vitamin content per 100g

However, dandelion contains 10,000-14,000 IU per 100g.

Dandelion: Average vitamin content per 100g

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dandelion: Average mineral content per 100g

Dandelion can be quite bitter but the young leaves, added in moderation to a salad provide a delicious piquancy. Fantastic in a juice mixed with carrot and ginger, it also makes a cleansing, diuretic tea mixed – try a combination of dandelion leaf Taraxacum officinale, nettle urtica dioica and cleavers Galium aparine.

For people trying to lose weight, a diuretic is useful. And where it is complicated by low thyroid function or oedema, where potassium is key, dandelion comes into its own. It is very high in natural potassium. This certainly gives it an advantage over many pharmaceutical diuretics which can cause potassium depletion as a side-effect. (Dangerous where they are being used in combination with heart medications such as digitalis and other cardiac glucosides.) Potassium is a key mineral in preventing oedema – when water is retained in your body’s cells. While a certain amount of water retention is normal, and fluctuates in women at certain times of the month, permanent oedema is not healthy. If you get indentations from your socks, for example, that are still there after your socks have been off for a while, you may have oedema. Potassium also needs zinc to work and handily, dandelion also contains a good amount of zinc too.

Dandelion also protects the liver – especially against the hepatotoxic effect of drugs like paracetamol (Colle et al, 2012) and liver damage from alcoholism (You et al, 2010). So if you like a bottle of wine in the evening, start the day with dandleion tea!

References
Colle D, Arantes LP, Gubert P, da Luz SC, Athayde ML, Teixeira Rocha JB and Soares FA. (2012) Antioxidant Properties of Taraxacum officinale Leaf Extract Are Involved in the Protective Effect Against Hepatoxicity Induced by Acetaminophen in Mice. J Med Food. 2012 Mar 16. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22424457

You Y, Yoo S, Yoon HG, Park J, Lee YH, Kim S, Oh KT, Lee J, Cho HY and Jun W. (2010) In vitro and in vivo hepatoprotective effects of the aqueous extract from Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) root against alcohol-induced oxidative stress. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Jun;48(6):1632-7. PMID: 20347918

 

Easter Banquet featuring Venison in Elderberry and Hawthorn

To those of you who imagine that a forager’s fare is stark or unexciting, then think again. A fortuitous gift of venison (I love living in the country) turned Easter Sunday into a culinary delight! In this case, rustling up lunch at short notice, I also ‘foraged’ in the garden to combine some veg with plants found in the ditches and woodland.

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A Foragers Traditional Sunday Lunch Menu

Venison Medallions in Elderberry and Hawthorn Gin Sauce

Sorrel and Wild Garlic Mash

Steamed Ground Elder

Wild Spring Salad with Elderberry Vinegar

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Ingredients:
1 loin of Roe deer contributed by your neighbour’s brother now that the shooting season is open
A pan of potatoes dug up from last year’s potato patch that survived the blight
A handful of early tangy Sorrel leaves
A handful of Wild Garlic from any river bank
A pan full of Ground Elder (it shrinks when steamed)
1/4 litre of last year’s pasteurised Elderberry juice
A good glug of my Vintage Hawthorn Berry Gin

Spices:
Dried seaweed, salt and pepper, ground hogweed seed and possibly some other mysterious things foraged from the dark and wild recesses of the kitchen cupboard

For the salad:
Lambs lettuce, Chickweed, Dandelion leaf, Watercress (taken from the bank not the stream bed), Wild Garlic, Wild Mint, Hairy Bittercress

For the dressing:
Olive oil, Elderberry ‘balsamic’ vinegar

Directions:
Set your potatoes to boil when you start preparing the meat.

Slice the venison loin into 1 cm thick medallions and slowly pan-fry them in olive until just done. Venison is best cooked through and not left too pink or bloody. Toward the end of the cooking add the elderberry juice and a generous amount of the spice mix. When the venison are cooked remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep them gently warm in the oven in a flat baking dish. (I have a neat Le Creuset one that I foraged from an abandoned caravan!) Reduce the elderberry juice by bubbling away until it thickens and just starts to caramelise, and then add a glug of hawthorn gin.

Drain and mash the potatoes being liberal with ground dried seaweed, salt and pepper, butter and milk until it reaches a smooth creamy consistency. Then add finely chopped sorrel leaves, chopped wild garlic and stir in until the mash is well flecked with green.

Lastly roughly chop and steam your ground elder just like spinach. Drain well, squeezing out the water, toss to loosen and season with butter and salt.

Toss your lightly shredded salad ingredients into a big bowl and sprinkle with equal amounts of olive oil and elderberry vinegar.

Make a ‘Easter egg nest’ of the mash and place a few medallions inside, pour over the sauce. Nestle the ground elder around the side and serve the salad in side bowls.

This was so delicious it elicited plenty of mm’s, aah’s and other good food noises and the diners forgot to suspiciously ask what was in it until they’d eaten it all! So enjoyed by Geza, Jim, Norrie and myself that no one took a photo. Sorry!!

Cost in a restaurant? £15 to £20 upwards. My shopping bill? £0 Actual cost? Probably no more than a pint of milk.

Below is a photo of a similar dish, this one featuring fried hogweed.

hogweed-champ-i

Herbal Power Juices – The Recipies

A “herb shot” for me is 20 ml in a 200ml glass of juice. Or around 30 ml in a 300 ml glass. All approximate as Paleolithic people did not carry a measuring jug around with them! I use 1 or 2 shots per glass depending on the taste of the plant and the effect I want to achieve. You can also dilute them. Goosegrass or nettle with lemon and ginger is very nice diluted with sparkling water – a sort of wild lemonade. For more on the benefits of power juicing click here.

HERBAL JUICE RECIPIES

Shot:  Clivers (also called cleavers, goosegrass or sticky willie. Use the leaves and stems)
Juice: Pear (or apple) juice
Dash: Lemon juice
Use:   Clivers (Galium aparine) is a great lymphatic tonic. It is alterative, diuretic and stimulates the lymph system and is used to treat conditions like lymphadenitis, tonsillitis, glandular fever, enlarged adenoids, tissue oedema and water retention. Historically it was considered one of the great ‘blood purifiers’ and used to cleanse a sluggish system to rid the body of “scurvy, scrofula, psoriasis, skin diseases and eruptions generally.”

Shot:  Nettle (Leaves – tops are tenderest, roots)
Juice: Beetroot (raw is tastiest but you can used cooked)
Dash: Ginger
Use:   Nettle (Urtica dioica) is diuretic (makes you pee more), very high in iron, and has an antihistamine effect. Nettle juice and nettle tea is helpful in managing a variety of allergic type conditions including hayfever, asthma, eczema and rashes. The root is also used to help manage the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. So for men over a certain age, drinking nettle root regularly can help to avoid the urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.

Shot:  Sweet Cicely (Leaves, flowers, seeds and roots are all edible)
Juice: Apple
Dash: You choose!
Use:  Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) contains an essential oil called anethole (as does Fennel) which makes it a soothing digestif for the stomach and helpful in preventing flatulence! It has an aromatic anise/licorise scent and sweet flavour. Sweet Cicely is fantastic cooked with cabbage or brussel sprouts (to reduce the windy effect) and when cooked with tart fruit such as rhubarb or gooseberries where it provides sweetness and flavour. Dried leaves can be used in tea instead of sugar and the dried root nibbled instead of sweets. This juice combination is the guaranteed favourite of the day in our Spring workshops.

Shot:  Wild Garlic (leaves, flowers, bulbs)
Juice: Tomato
Dash:  Cayenne / Tabasco / Wild Mustard
Use:  Wild garlic (Allium ursinum) is a member of the onion family. A milder form of garlic which is a well-known remedy taken internally to help reduce high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries The typical ‘garlic’ smell is caused by sulphur compounds, which have beneficial effects on the circulatory, digestive, and respiratory systems. Garlic (Allium sativum) is the most pungent and the strongest therapeutically.  This combination makes a tasty savoury juice. Wild garlic can cause stomach aches if taken in very large quantities.

Shot: Dandelion leaves
Juice: Carrots
Dash: Ginger
Use: Dandelion Taraxacum offcinale is a well know diuretic used in detox, weight loss and cleansing programs. Diuretics are also taken to clear sluggish conditions and skin congestion. Young leaves should be used as bitterness increases with age!

Shot: Mint
Juice: Cucumber
Dash: Ginger / Lime / Honey

Use: Mint Mentha piperita is a digestif that is soothing and calming after meals. Ginger also helps to prevent griping and nausea.

Shot: Parsley
Juice: Carrots / Tomatoes
Dash: Lime
Use: Parsley Petroselinum crispum is high in vitamins. It is used in Chinese medicine to reduce blood pressure. Parsley also helps the body absorb manganese, needed by the body to build bones, especially when eaten with shellfish and wholegrains. It also contradicts the smell of garlic so helps to keep the breath fresh if chewed after garlicky meals. Parsley, especially the seeds, contains apiole oil which is a diuretic and kidney stimulant. Another medicinal use is to stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area, useful for irregular periods and should not be eaten in large quantities by pregnant women.

These are just some suggestions. Experiment wildly!

I use a simple manual wheatgrass juicer because:

  1. It is easy to assemble, easy to wash, easy to transport
  2. It does not require electricity so it can be used anywhere
  3. It is perfect for high fibre ‘weeds’ that will tangle blender blades and burn out motors
  4. Everyone including the kids love turning the handle!!
  5. It costs under £30 (as of writing this)

So here is where you get The Lexen Healthy Juicer.

If you want to preserve your juices for an all-year round supply then consider pasteurising them.

Foragers Dió Pálinka aka Green Walnut Grappa

Green Walnut Grappa

Adapted from a Dió Pálinka (Walnut Brandy) recipe that I tried in a Hungarian cellar at Somló – amongst many others!! Pálinka is traditionally a fruit brandy but as most of my readers won’t have a still (it’s illegal) I have turned it into a grappa or nocino instead.

1 litre of grappa (vodka, pálinka, white spirit 40 – 45 % vol.)
250g to 400 g sugar (depending how sweet you like liqueurs)
10 large green walnuts (or 15 small ones)

Option 1:
Traditional: a couple of roasted coffee beans
Foragers: a couple of roasted dandelion roots or toasted cleavers seed.

Option 2: 
Traditional: 5-6 cloves, a stick of cinnamon and half a mace
Foragers: a half handful of common hogweed seeds and alexanders seed (ripe green hogweed seeds can also be toasted)

Connoisseur’s method:
Pick the walnuts while the skin is still green and a fork will pierce right through them including the young shell inside. Wearing gloves – unless you want brown stained hands – cut each nut into quarters (don’t peel them) then half again. Put the pieces into a preserving jar and pour the alcohol over them, adding beans or spices if you prefer. Seal the jar tightly and leave on a sunny windowsill for 6 weeks.

Flickr - cyclonebill - Valnøddesnaps

Walnuts soaking for a 6 week stretch

After 6 weeks, strain off the dark brown liquid, discarding the blackened walnuts. Gently heat the sugar in a little hot water until all the crystals have dissolved. Add the resulting thin syrup to the filtered alcohol. Bottle and leave for another 6 weeks.

Cheat’s Method:
Chop the walnuts as before then put all the ingredients, adding half a litre of water, into a saucepan and cook until the sugar dissolves. Pour all into the preserving jar. Seal and leave for at least 2 weeks. Strain and bottle.

More things to do with Green Walnuts here.