Tag Archives: Dandelion

RIP The King of the Dandelions, Dandelion Dude Peter Gail

Even though I never met him, I was saddened to learn this morning that one on North Americas leading foragers Peter Gail has died. I first came across him on the old foraging email groups, first Edible Wild in 1999 and later Wild Forager and Forage Ahead…which inspired me to buy his book Dandelion Celebration (1994).  He was the first person I had come across that had actually planted a dandelion bed in his garden and he also organised the National Dandelion Cookoff in Dover, Ohio for many years! You can find the excerpt about Gail from my book Around the World in 80 plants below!
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Excerpt from Around the World in 80 plants:

“I eventually saw the light (about eating dandelions”when I followed a discussion on the ForageAhead email group between two of North
America’s leading foragers ‘Dandelion Dude’ Peter Gail and John Kallas. Gail has written several essays and books about dandelions including his Dandelion Celebration (1994). He also founded the group ‘Defenders of Dandelions’ to provide information to those who want to make their neighbours aware just how good dandelions are and stop the chemical warfare. He has also organised the National Dandelion Cookoff in Dover, Ohio, still going strong since 1993. Gail says he ate dandelions every day, fresh in the summer and in dehydrated form in winter, growing his own from transplanted wild roots on raised beds in his garden for ease of access. Gail has been rightly coined the King of the Dandelions! However, it was John Kallas’ web essay Making Dandelions Palatable that explains how such a bitter weed could be so popular around the world. To start with, Gail admits to thinking he was being poisoned the first time he ate dandelion and Kallas also found them very bitter, but was determined to solve the riddle. He first points out that foraging books downplay the bitterness and thinks that the oft-quoted difference between the first mild leaves in spring and bitter at flowering time is also exaggerated. As a result many people are
disappointed and permanently put off when they sample their first dandelion. I was with him here … He says that as part of his PhD he interviewed old timers in rural Michigan. Dandelions were the most common wild collected food in this group and, no, they weren’t bitter, they said. Upon asking how they prepared the dandelions they explained that the fresh leaves were mixed with bacon grease, bacon, eggs, salt and sometimes vinegar. Incidentally, salade de pissenlit et lardons (salad of dandelion and bacon) is still prepared in France today. In most cultures as you can see in the around-the-world review above, dandelions are almost never eaten fresh alone.”

Vert de Montmagny Ameliore

A French Dandelion cultivar, early and productive with very long leaves!

Nesodden

I had a little time to spare on Monday 8th May 2017, before my talk in the evening in Oslo. I went for a little walk on the coastal path (kyststien) on Nesodden where my son lives. Here’s a few pictures…

Forced blanched Udo Baccalao

Inspired by my visit in the spring to Tokyo’s underground blanching of Udo (Aralia cordata), see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=8299, I dug up a couple of roots in the autumn for indoors forcing.  I kept them cold in the cellar until about a month ago and then progressively moving  them first to a cool room at about 10C and then the living room at about 18C when I’m at home  (about the same temperature as down the Udo underground forcing caverns!)
I used them both in salads and also in a mixed vegetable baccalao dish. Baccalao is a Norwegian / Portuguese stew based on dried and salted cod.

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Roots dug up in the autumn and planted in a large bucket which was put in my cold cellar for 4 months

 

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Shoots appearing in my living room with another bucket over the top to keep light out! Note the thin white shoots appearing around the edges…this reminds me of the video from Mountain Gardens telling that Udo spreads by rhizomes! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNzCpfSQWks&feature=youtu.be
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Tasty blanched Udo was used to decorate the salad I made for Credo Restaurant in Trondheim during the Kosmorama festival!
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Blanched Udo at the back!

 

 

 

 

 

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I didn’t use all the shoots and I let two continue to grow and was used this week in a Baccalao dish

 

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Ingredients in the Udo Baccalao dish including odds and ends left in the cellar, forced dandelion (top right), Jerusalem artichokes, Udo, chicories, turnips, Tragopogon, burdock, leeks and carrots

 

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Forced blanched dandelions with flower buds

 

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Assembling the baccalao with Udo on top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solstice sweet and sour soup greens

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Tonight’s greens: Sea kale(strandkål), Scorzonera (scorsonnerot), Allium senescens, Sweet cicely (spansk kjørvel), Giant bellflower (storklokke), Sorrel / surblad, Nettle (nesle), Dandelion (løvetann)
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Sea kale(strandkål) flowering tops are delicious
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Scorzonera (scorsonnerot) tops are also delicious and sweet tasting
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Allium senescens hybrid
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Sweet cicely (spansk kjørvel) flowering tops (the flower stems need to be removed as they are woody) are also sweet.
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Giant bellflower (storklokke) tops are also sweetish
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Sorrel (surblad) leaves from my patch of 6 Russian cultivars

Somebody once said that solstice greens are the best…I’d add that solstice perennial greens are even better :) Here’s what I used in tonight’s soup: Sea kale(strandkål), Scorzonera (scorsonnerot), Allium senescens, Sweet cicely (spansk kjørvel), Giant bellflower (storklokke), Sorrel / surblad, Nettle (nesle), Dandelion (løvetann) (all are in my book)…and I almost forgot that there’s chickweed (vassarve) in there too, perennial in that it’s there every year!

Visiting Camilla Plum

On 2nd May 2016 I finally got to visit Camilla Plum and Fuglebjerggaard. Camilla is one of Scandinavia’s best known authors and broadcasters on edible gardening and cooking. It was such a beautiful day that the formal talk was abandoned in favour of an edible tour of the organic nursery and farm lead by myself and Camilla. A great crowd of knowledgeable folk, some of whom had travelled quite a long way including one couple from Norway! Thanks for inviting me Camilla!! A great place and many must-have plants :)

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Camilla in front of a large bed of emerging Ostrich Ferns which were obviously thriving in this open location as shoots were popping up in the grass around the bed!

 

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Wool mulch
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Perennial kales
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One of the 80 in my book is Allium obliquum, twistedleaf garlic from Siberia! I’d never seen it growing on this scale before.
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This form of Allium obliquum had beautiful purple stems and was also on sale on the nursery.
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Nursery
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Edible perennials
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What was happening here? Camilla had asked staff to go down into this swampy pit to collect rhizomes and young shoots of a plant known in North America as the Supermarket of the swamps… 
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Harvesting salad ingredients :)
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Large selection of chilis!
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Large selection of chilis!
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Yellow flowered Allium moly is a great edible onion for partiual shade in the forest garden! Not often you see this one on sale, although supermarket chain Lidl were selling bulbs this autumn!
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Hop clones after Danish breeder Øyvind Winge, now made available in the nursery. I remember seeing these in the hop collection at Årslev…
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DAHLIAS!
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Hop-Asparagus!
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Perennial kales
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…and Lathyrus tuberosus
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Scorzonera
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Tulbaghia or Society Garlic from South Africa
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Wonderful lunch with ostrich fern, fried dandelion flower buds with salt and a lovely salad with tulip petals!
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Mushroom plant, Rungia klossii from Papua New Guinea is a novel salad plant

 

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