Ok this one is so common and abundant that you would never think about it, Dandelions! Yep, I'm talking about those yellow flowers that then turn into the fun downy seed pods that you would make wishes on as kids, those are one of the most common wild edibles widely available and accessible.
Before I jump into proper identification and preparation, I want to issue a warning to say that many dandelions are found in lawns and roadsides. Many of these lawns and roadsides are treated with nasty chemicals. So before you pick and take a bite, know your source you'll be alright.
When you find a good source depending on the time of year you can harvest different parts of the plant. You know you are looking at a dandelion by the sharp irregular lobed leaves. The stems are milky and hollow, and the outer bracts of the flowers are reflexed. The many uses and availability throughout the year make this wild edible worthwhile to know and harvest.
During the early spring, you can harvest the young shoots and young leaves especially before the flowers have sprouted. You can either add these young leaves to salads or boil them or cook them with fat. Although the entire leaf is edible, the tender base of the leaves just below soil level is best.
During late spring, you can pick the flower buds, which can be boiled, sautéed in butter or pickled.
Then during summer the yellow flowers can be battered and deep fried. When using the flower buds or yellow flowers, you can pinch the flower at the base where it meets them stem to get a clean harvest.
Finally during autumn, the roots can be dried and powdered, then used as a coffee substitute. You can also use the powdered root as an additive to your coffee or tea. The method of harvest for the root would be to remove the soil around the roots system to remove the entire plant from its base. After you clean the roots, they can be dried or baked, then powdered with a mortar and pestle.
The sheer variety of ways to prepare the dandelion and its wide availability makes it one of the most versatile wild edibles in Europe and eastern North America. The experience of encountering, identifying and using this plant for nourishment gives this plant a rich place among the wild edibles.
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