Damned if You Do. Dandelioned if You Don’t.

I have been itching to make jam. Badly. It has been a long winter and I need something else in my life besides driving my children much too far to preschool five days a week. While the world around me blossoms and shoots forth from the earth, there still isn’t much that is jam worthy growing yet. Asparagus are the only local crop that’s in. In a few more weeks strawberries will be ready. But for now, there isn’t much to pick.

Except for dandelions. They’ve appeared literally overnight polka dotting the countryside and my kids think they are the absoulte best, so bright and abundant. I know that dandelion jelly is a real country old timer and find that appealing. So my husband and kids agreed to go outside picking with me, filling our bags and buckets with only the best blossoms we foraged from our land.

Not before too long, Madhumati and Venumadhava grew restless so my husband, Madhava, entertained them by taking them on a wild asparagus walk. Growing a bit bored of the dandelions, and distracted by the other colors around me, I went inside the house and grabbed a jar for violet picking. Previously I contemplated picking violets, but their miniscule size intimidated me. I thought it would take forever to pick just a small amount. I was wrong. It took exactly 40 minutes to pick a quart. Not exactly forever, but no blink of the eye either.

Back to the dandelions. After picking a few gallons full I headed inside, washed them, and made an infusion for jelly. I never had dandelion jelly before and the smell of the infusion did not encourage me. After the infusion was made and the flowers strained, I took a tablespoon of the juice in a cup with some sugar and had a taste.

As my father would say, this stuff would put hair on your chest! While I read one online snippet that dandelion jelly tastes a bit like honey, I found my juice to taste more like dandelions. This wasn’t something I wanted to put the Sabjimata name on, so once it cools my plants will get a nice tea.

This is definitely a nothing ventured, nothing gained situation. Although I didn’t follow through with the dandelion jelly, I still find it rewarding to somehow be a part of a smaller environment, eating lower on the food chain and knowing that if the end of the world came tomorrow, I could at least eat dandelions. Or if the end of the world was not too uncivilized, toast with dandelion jelly.

Edible flowers make me happy. I just like knowing what is edible and what is not. Of course, just because something is not edible doesn’t mean it will kill you. Often it will just give you diarhea. This information may actually be helpful at some constipated point in life. Like unripened elderberries will have a laxatative effect. Or so I read. Last summer my daughter ate quite a few and there was no ill effect. However, since the toxin is arsenic, I highly discourage folks from experimenting on their own. But anyway, back to edible flowers…

I picked some tulip petals also. I remember reading somewhere that Audrey Hepburn and her mother survived the war on tulip petals. Maybe I will mix them up with the violets for a jam. We’ll see. The night is young.


(Venumadhava,self appointed family clown, hamming it up in our quince tree.)

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