When you start trying to grow all your own food you quickly come to appreciate why it is so important for us all to eat foods seasonally. We’ve all read the reasons why we should only eat rhubarb in the spring, sweet corn in summer, or bake apple crisp in the fall, but when you grow the food yourself you really start to get it!
Growing food is hard work so why fight nature? Besides, when you’ve waited all year to pick those first sweet strawberries in June, or bite into a tomato, ripened naturally by the hot summer sun, they taste so good!
Right now there’s not a lot to harvest from the garden; mostly spring greens, overwintered leeks, and parsnips. What I do have is an abundance of dandelions!
Dandelions are highly nutritious. Being packed with vitamins and minerals, the fresh leaves are a welcome addition to a spring salad. However, the bright yellow flowers are often overlooked and I’ve had a recipe that I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time.
This year I finally made a batch of Dandelion Marmalade:
200g Dandelion Petals
500g Citrus Fruit Peel – lemon, orange, or grapefruit
500g Apples –any leftover bits of apples, including the cores and skins
You’ll need to start saving citrus peels and apple peelings ahead of time. I kept them in the fridge until I had enough to make my marmalade. Then pick your dandelions. Remove the petals and place in a bowl.
Place the apple cores and peel, the citrus peels and half of the dandelion petals into a large saucepan. Add sufficient water to cover and simmer gently for about 1 hour.
Strain the mixture through a jelly bag and leave to drain overnight.
Measure the strained liquid and add 500g of granulated sugar for every 600ml juice. Pour liquid and sugar into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Keep stirring the liquid until all the sugar has dissolved, then boil rapidly until setting point is reached.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining dandelion petals and stir throughly to distribute them evenly through the marmalade.
Pour into sterilised jars and leave to cool completely.