Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Harvesting dandelion crops

Evil, evil dandelionsI used to hate dandelions with a passion. They were the bane of my existence and I would go after them with abandon, wielding my Weed Hound like there was no tomorrow.

Of course, since these fits of dandelion mass murder occurred rather infrequently in spite of my hatred, they managed to take over. It didn't help that my kids think spreading dandelion seed heads all over is the greatest activity ever.

No problem, I thought. I'll make good use out of them. Since dandelions are edible from stem to stern, I considered using them as greens (too bitter) and even went so far as harvesting a ton of flowers for making chocolate orange dandelion bread (too savory).

But now that I have chickens? I harvest the crap out of my dandelion filled lawn. The chickens think dandelions, pulled up with their long tentacles and all, are the best food on earth. If I don't come out bearing a few dandelions, they cluck at me in admonishment. Fortunately, I have a good supply of organically grown dandelions at my disposal. I was almost getting afraid of over-harvesting them and cutting off the supply.

I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen since I've got several production sites in my yard (front, side and back). In any case, since the chickens love dandelions and turn them into brightly yolked high nutrient eggs and since I don't love dandelions, I'm more than happy to let them convert my weeds into even better homegrown eggs for me.

It's a win-win situation. And it's free, I don't have to put any labor into growing this food source for the chickens (except for pulling them up) and I feel like somehow I'm cheating. And the girls love them:



What do you do with your dandelions? Do you eat them?

15 comments:

brad said...

Yes, and we eat the mighty Sow Thistle, a cousin of the humble Dandelion.

JanesDaddy said...

I made dandelion wine one year. Left three bottle on top of the china hutch in the kitchen for six months. Boy, was it potent! I wish I'd kept the recipe now...

Hazel said...

Dandelion jam was a hit, as were Dandelion blossom fritters (but then most things dipped in batter, fried and served with golden syrup will be tasty!)

We're not too keen on bitter in our family (I'll eat a bit of chicory or endive but no-one else in the family will touch it) so I force a few plants with plant pots to make less bitter leaves for salads- good with bacon/lardons and croutons ('Pissenlit au lard'). I remember seeing dandelion leaves for sale in Italian supermarkets a few years ago.
Dandelion bread and dandelion roots (?coffee) are on the menu this year, but most still go to our chickens.

...... Bobbi said...

I love making dandelion jelly and dandelion wine. When my kids were little, I would put them to work with a bucket and pay them 1 cent for each bloom they brught me!

Anna in Atlanta said...

Dandelions are also supposedly good for honey bees (the nectar and pollen, I guess). Bees are on my mind these days -- mine arrive in a couple of weeks!

Oxray Farm said...

I give them to the rabbits and chickens. I also leave some for the bees.

louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife said...

Ours go to our chickens too. We did think about trying to go down the wine or coffee-substitute route but as I don't drink alcohol or coffee, I think the chickens will make better use of them than us.

Brad K. said...

I haven't done anything more than hum that song about dandelion wine.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFTvCkQOkMU&feature=related

Or maybe that was Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood's "Summer Wine". Whatever.

I hadn't thought of the chickens. But they sure tore up watermelon rinds last year. We are a couple weeks short of dandelions, I think, but will try them on the flutterbrains.

Rosa said...

our pet guinea pigs love dandelions too - we actually did run out last summer, and asked some neighbors if they minded if we dug up theirs (uh, no.) We're lucky hardly anybody sprays their yard around here.

I dried a bunch, as an experiment, and the guinea pigs didn't like them until about December when they hadn't had fresh greens in a long time. I think next year I'll dry more (especially if we really get the chickens this summer like we plan.)

Diana R.Smith said...

All beekeepers love bees...one of the earliest sources of pollen available. We never mow early--fortunately living so far in the boonies no one cares what our lawn looks like!

One year we had the kids gather dandelion flowers and we made some wine....about 1000 proof. Finally fed it to two pigs when we were preparing to slaughter them.They went hog happy! DEE

Michelle said...

Huh, it never occurred to me to feed them to the hens - but I sure do feed them to the rabbits! And if I were half as motivated as I wish I were, I'd use them in salads for the humans here, too. Alas. Maybe this year. If the snow ever melts.

fitsandstarts said...

I eat the greens myself, and dry some for tea and other medicinal uses throughout the year. This year I want to start using the flowers in oils. Now that we have a bunny, I am sure she'll be happy too! I live and encourage dandelions!

Seonaid said...

We roast the roots and use them as a coffee substitute, feed the greens to the chickens, and made dandelion wine last year. We also keep bees who depend upon the dandelion as their first big nectar and pollen source of the summer.

AND, since they bring up mineral from the subsoil with the taproots, we also steep these to make compost tea. Turned the biggest weed into our best crop.

Kara said...

I had a similar panic over eliminating dandelions, because my chickens love them so much, too. But I'm constantly digging out six-inch roots that show no sign of stopping, so I'm pretty sure my chickens will have a lifetime supply. :)

Angel said...

Dandelions are so nutritious, people need to add them to their salads.My goats eat them too - they are a great tonic for both animals and humans. Never throw them away - one day they may be the only food you have. I cringe whenever I see people poison them for their "perfect Lawn". One day they will regret that. I grow them deliberately - they are too good of a food not to.

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