I’ve previously introduced the gourmet part of the dandelion, the dandichoke! I write in my book:
My favourite foraging author “(Samuel Thayer’s) favourite dandelion vegetable is what he calls dandelion crowns, as named originally by Euell Gibbons (1961). I prefer to call them dandichokes, as both these and artichoke hearts are located below the flowers. In the early spring, the very young flowers appear at the surface. The dandichoke is just the self-blanched crown between the top of the root, which is a bit below the surface, and the developing flowers. Although small and difficult to clean, they are very tasty”. See the picture below!
The same applies to another of the 80 in my book, Giant Bellflower (storklokke) which also has a delicious (sweet tasting) self-blanched stem between the root and the surface….bellfower-chokes or, even better in Norwegian, storklokkeskokker! I discovered this accidentally last year! I had earlier noted in my book the sweeter tasting spring shoots after blanching (covering to excude light).
The last roots I harvest in the autumn are perennial vegetables for eating in the winter. I usually do this as late as possible and some years harvestng involves breaking through the ice with a pick axe! With daytime temperatures of -7C forecast for next week, this may be the last chance! Yesterday was the annual horserdish (pepperrot) harvest….the big roots are for forcing young shoots as a vegetable (usually blanched) and the younger roots for grated horseradish! An annual dig also serves to limit the spread of horseradish which can be a problem in some gardens!
See my webinar from last winter on winter vegetables here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf1ucsGrU2U
Dandelions are one of my favourite winter perennial vegetables. During the summer, wild dandelions sow themselves on my cultivated beds….one of the advantages of having too much open soil! I deliberately let them grow on until late autumn when I dig up some of the roots, others left to grow on to the next year, and plant them in large pots ready to force later in the winter like witloof chicory. I usually force them by moving from storage in my cellar to a cool room in the house where I force them in the dark!
The other day I discovered a long suffering Hosta that I’d covered with a bucket in the spring. Surprisingly the blanched shoots were in good condition despite the warmth. We ate them as a salad with a simple dipping sauce (roasted sesame oil, soy sauce and pepper! And it was delicious, mild tasting, crispy and refreshing, the texture and shape of the leaf reminding my friend of artichoke! The day afterwards, I ate the rest lightly fried with garlic and chili in an omelette with sea kale broccolis! I’m sure you can use any Hosta for this. In Japan, Hosta montana is the main species cultivated for the markets. We found blanched Hosta shoots or urui in all the supermarkets in late march / early april during my study trip to Japan. However, H. montana is not an accepted species name by the Plant List (plantlist.org) and is often given as a variety, H. sieboldiana var montana or var gigantea. However, on the taxonomy account at http://www.hostalibrary.org/species/pdf/species_part1.pdf, it is stated that H. montana is so obviously different from H. sieboldiana that even the average gardener can tell them apart! For this reason, I used H. montana in my book as it is still commonly used in horticulture. For a list of cultivar names known as H. montana, see http://myhostas.be/db/hostas/montana. Hosta undulata is also noted on the Japanese Hosta wiki page as being used. This is no longer accepted as a species and is considered to be a group of cultivars H. “Undulata” (see http://myhostas.be/db/hostas/undulata for a list of cultivars associated with Undulata).
On the Japanese Hosta wiki (translated with Google translate), the main producing area for urui is given as Yamagata prefecture (north of Tokyo on the other side of Honshu), which ship light green young shoots which are used for salads , pickles , stir-fry , with miso sauce , vinegar miso , miso soup , mixed rice , sushi rolls etc. This explains why we didn’t see the production of Hosta during our farm trips south of Tokyo.
The Japanese name is 雪うるい (yuki urui) which means snow leaf or icicles (google the Japanese name to see many pictures). They are produced in darkened greenhouses for an extended season or the rows are mounded outdoors. The production techniques seem to be different judging by the colour of the urui sold in supermarkets.
Last night (8th March 2017) was the first of two events I had been asked to take part in celebrating the diversity of vegetables that our area has on offer (or could have on offer) even in winter! The Trondheim Kosmorama international film festival are showing two films related to food. Last night, the film “NOMA: My perfect storm” was shown and around 40 people also bought tickets to a fantastic 10-15 course, 4 hour meal (I lost count) at Trondheim’s NOMA: Credo!
I supplied a number of vegetables for the dinner and these are shown here, several being served for the first time in Norway :)