Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Trying new things...

Today I tried two new wild food things: Dandelion root and Fat Hen flowers/seeds (I've often eaten the greens from both of these plants).

Dandelion root is something I'd been meaning to taste for ages. It's one of the few wild roots that can easily be acquired by foragers, as people are generally desperate to get rid of them from lawns and so on. Initially I found it quite pleasant, but it had a bitter aftertaste. Overall I was disappointed. I only ate a few, chopped up in a risotto with various other wild and home-grown bits and bobs.

Fat Hen seeds, on the other hand, are yummy! Again, I only tried a few because I was a little nervous (I read something somewhere about saponins, but most sources don't mention any hazards at all). As long as they are safe (!) I think they would be lovely in bread/baking. Fat Hen is from the same family as Quinoa, and apparently both seeds and greens have been eaten by humans (as well as hens) since ancient times. Any advice from the more experienced would be much appreciated...

I was planning to go into more detail about my dinner but I think I need further practice before I share tips. It was the first risotto I've ever made! *hangs head in shame*



  1. Dandelion... Well, the best thing to do with the root is to roast it with sweeter roots; mix it with, say, scorzonera. But do it in autumn or winter, its not so good at this time of year.

    Fat hen seeds... Well they're okay, but again, at least looking at them here I think you're a little early in the season. The ones infesting my allotment aren't ripe yet :)

  2. OK, thanks Cab, I'll try dandelion root again in the Autumn. I sort-of assumed I could eat it at any time due to the fact that the plants are at random different stages of growth all through the year?

    I wasn't sure if I'd picked Fat Hen seeds or flowers, they looked like tiny buds but when I rubbed them from the stems little black seeds came out (I ate the green buddy/flowery bits too). They were nice anyway! Do you use them yourself?

    Thanks for info, you are very helpful! :)

  3. Dandelion roots tend to be fatter and sweeter when the weather starts to turn cold in autumn; they're doing what many plants do and they use a swollen root as a winter store. They're never great, but they're okay.

    I've used fat hen seed, but to be honest I'm mostly too lazy to, when I can buy a bag of quinoa for pennies at a shop round the corner from here. I'm way more likely to use fat hen leaves rather than seeds.