Localvore: Dandelion fritters offer great excuse to go wandering

By Calley Hastings, Special to the Free Press • Sunday, May 23, 2010

Some already have gone to seed, but the majority are at their prime flower stage.

Fried dandelion flowers are a spring delicacy, and you can use dandelions in many ways. The first spring greens can be sauteed and eaten like kale, the flowers can be fried, and the root can be used medicinally.

This time of year I’m making dandelion fritters with the flowers. It’s a great excuse to wander out into a beautiful field to harvest them on a sunny day.

This recipe calls for both flour and cornmeal. We grow Calais Flint Corn during the summer and dry it late in the season. Then we remove the dried kernels throughout the year and grind them into fresh cornmeal using our small household-size mill. You can grind corn as fine as you want, but I like the texture or coarse cornmeal, which I use in this recipe.

Try growing a small plot of Flint corn this year, or look for locally grown cornmeal. In this recipe you also can alter amounts of flour or cornmeal to your preference and its availability. All versions are great. The flour leads to a more tempura-like batter, and the cornmeal adds texture and a slight crunch.

Also, note that the dandelion flowers start to close up as daylight diminishes. The earlier in the day you make the fritters, the more open the flower will be, but make sure to eat them fresh out of the pan so they are still crisp and warm.

Last night’s dinner included dandelion fritters, greens for our garden with maple chevre and a balsamic dressing, a potato-and-garlic quiche, and a caramel rhubarb pie. The crusts for the quiche and the pie used lard rendered from our own pigs.

Calley Hastings runs Fat Toad Farm, a small goat dairy in Brookfield, along with family members Steve Reid, Judith Irving and Josey Hastings. They produce fresh goat cheese and goat’s milk caramel (cajeta). Find their products in natural food stores throughout Vermont. Look for more recipes and information about the farm at www.fattoadfarm.com.

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