Give this Traditional Dandelion Greens Recipe a Try this Spring

Dandelion greens salad

This traditional dandelion greens recipe is by far the best way I’ve found to enjoy this nutritious green.

Dandelions are everywhere. They are in yards, parks, abandoned lots, and nearly everywhere you look. Unbeknownst to most, dandelions are not a native species to North America. Nope. The yard invaders trace their roots (pun intended) to Eurasia. They were actually intentionally introduced in North America by settlers. Even as settlers came west they brought this perennial herb with them, as they knew it would provide a dependable crop of greens each year. How times have changed.

Dandelion flowers
Dandelions are a nutrient packed food the pioneers made sure to secure.

These days folks spend lots of time and money trying to eradicate this prolific herb. The truth is, if dandelion were in the supermarkets they would be promoted as a Super Food. All parts of the plant are very healthy, but the greens are especially so. In fact, compared to a highly nutritious food like spinach, dandelion wins in nearly every department. When you start realizing the goodness sprouting up all around us, you might start to wonder why we spend so much time killing it. You may also think about enjoying some of it.

So dandelion greens are healthy, but in all honesty I find the taste a little powerful. Most information out there advises folks to boil the greens in order to remove some of the bitter taste. That works to an extent, but there always seems to be some strong taste holding on. Maybe that is as it should be, but it may be holding people back from adding this nutritious powerhouse food to their diet. If that is the case, you’ll enjoy this dandelion greens recipe.

This tasty dandelion recipe comes from the book Wild Seasons by Kay Young. It is very good, and might be a good way to slip dandelions past your palate. If you have a few yellow spring flowers budding I’d encourage you to give it a try.

Ingredients

4 cups washed dandelion greens (other greens can be mixed as well)
2 strips bacon
Salt, black pepper, and sugar to taste
1 Hard boiled egg (sliced)
Vinegar to taste

To start, boil you dandelion greens as you would in other recipes. 4 minutes is plenty. Once the greens are boiled, drain the water and pat dry some of the excess moisture.

As you heat your water, you also want to start cooking your bacon. Cook it to a nice crispy state. Once the bacon is cooked you want to pat it and to remove some of the grease,  then crush it into smaller pieces.

At any point you are also free to make your dressing by combining your salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar together. The resulting dressing is delicious and worth adding to your regular salads as well.

With your greens boiled, bacon cooked, and dressing made, you can add everything together. Add any other greens as well. We added a few cups of spinach to our concoction which helped to offset the taste of the dandelions. Once you have everything stirred together, add the hard boiled egg and serve.

Dandelion greens salad
This traditional dandelion greens recipe is a good way to try this heritage food.

As mentioned, this traditional dandelion greens recipe is a great way to incorporate the bountiful herb into your diet. Maybe you are hesitant about trying dandelions? Maybe you have hard time stomaching the taste? Maybe you just want to spice up your diet with a more traditional wild food? Whatever your reason, I’d encourage you to give it a shot. It really isn’t as scary as you might think.

As with all wild food recipes, you are responsible for making sure the food is safe. Ensuring you have the right plant is the very first thing you have to get right. You might think there is no mistaking dandelion for anything else. Well, you may be surprised to learn that there are dandelion look alikes. Learn to tell the difference and get the right plant.

Secondly, because these broadleaf flowers are unwanted, make sure not to gather them from sources that could have been sprayed. The more isolated the location, the better.

Finally, don’t dive all-in when you first give dandelion greens a try. As with any new/exotic food, it is best to ease in and see how you react to it. Try adding just a few greens to your salad the first time. Then see how you like the taste and how your body accepts it.

At the end of the day I’d encourage you to give this traditional dandelion greens recipe a try. It is silly to think about how we discard this plant, and then go pay for less nutritious plants at the grocery store. It does have a strong taste, but you may find this recipe a good way to disguise it. The pioneers not only ate it regularly, but they made sure to bring it along with them. Its nutritional qualities were not lost upon them, and hopefully you can find a bit of that value as well.

XXXXX

Thanks for giving this traditional dandelion greens recipe a look. If you enjoyed it, please follow this blog by clicking the button near the bottom of the page. You may also enjoy this article on the 8 Uses of Cattail from Hunting to Diner Plate.

Follow the author through his Facebook page or his Twitter feed.

4 Uses of Soapweed Yucca, a Blessing on the Plains

Uses of soapweed yucca

In a land that may seem bleak, knowing the uses of soapweed yucca is a must.

One of the most alluring aspects of learning about skills of the past is the new perspective you develop about the world. You’ll see things you never saw before, and begin to see abundance where you once saw only barrenness. Where once you saw a forest, you start to see a multitude of individual treasures scattered all about. Some food here. Some fire starting material there. The more you learn, the more incredible a few simple acres of woods becomes.

The same can be said for the expansive grasslands of our prairie lands. Our great prairie is where I call home at the moment. Historically, this area has always been one of low human population. For good reason too. There is an obvious lack of timber and running water, two things that have always been vital for human settlement. Prior to the migration of European Americans, Native American societies called these grasslands home. They were also sparsely settled and many had adapted a nomadic life well suited to this vast land. When the first European Americans came through this land in large numbers, it was only to pass through our Great American Desert. The thought of actually staying didn’t even cross their mind.

The misconception of our Great Plains as a vast wasteland is a myth that some still hold today. In truth though, our great grassland can in fact be a difficult place to scratch a living from the land. This is especially true when you talk about primitive living. Although difficult, there are a variety of plants and animals available that humans have been using for millennia to subsist in this exapansive land. One plant that people of the plains have traditionally found very useful is the ever-so-common soapweed yucca.

Soapweed yucca is one of the many varieties of yucca on the North American continent. It is characterized by the same features of many species. It has thin green leaves that terminate with a sharp needlelike point. Soapweed also has a woody center from which the plant’s flower blossoms grow. Chances are, if you’ve been through the Great Plains, you’ve seen this prolific plant.

Although soapweed is not a plant that will keep you alive for an extended period of time, it is a plant that can provide a variety of materials we can benefit from. That being said, here are the 4 uses of soapweed yucca that you can begin to experiment with.

Cordage

The first way that I came to realize the utility of yucca, was when I started making cordage from the leaves. Yucca has strong and fibrous leaves that make it ideal for that sort of use. For an in-depth explanation of how to turn yucca into stout cordage, reference this article I penned for Offthegridnews.com. Within an hour you can make a good amount of cordage for future use.

Yucca cordage
Yucca makes a natural needle and thread.

Another way to use yucca as cordage is to put the naturally spiked end of the plant to work. Anyone who has walked across the yucca covered plains will testify to the prickly nature of the plants. However, what we classify as a nuisance, can quickly be turned into a benefit with a change in perspective. To use the natural needle on each yucca leaf, you still have to get the outer layer off the leaf to bare open the fibers. To do so, pound the leaf between two pieces of wood. As you do so you’ll begin to notice the outside beginning to flake off. At that point you just need to scrape off the waste to access the fibers. Pound the entire leaf except the last 2 or 3 inches. You can separate the fibers to make them more flexible, decrease the number to decrease the diameter, or leave them as they are.

After the quick process you’ll be holding an all-natural needle and thread in your hand. The point is strong and sharp enough to punch through denim, and can sew up nearly anything. This quick and easy cordage surely wasn’t lost on the ancestral people of this land.

Fire

Yucca hearthboard.
Soft yucca hearthboard.

Another of the many uses of soapweed yucca to start friction fires. It has one of the lowest combustion temperatures of any wood, which makes it a great wood choice. The portion to use is the woody stalk at the center of the plant. As with any wood, make sure to select dead and seasoned stalks. Personally, I’ve had the best luck using yucca as a hearth board and a mullein spindle when practicing my hand drill. That being said, many people out there can quickly bring a coal to life using yucca as the spindle and hearth board. It was one of the favored woods of people in the past for starting friction fires.

Soap

Perhaps the most well-known use of soapweed yucca is where it derives its name; making soap. The natural soap yucca provides has been used for eons on this continent, and still cleans just as good as it ever has. Within the root of the plant there is a compound called saponin. This compound is the agent that you need to get at to make soap.

To make soap you’ll first have to gather some yucca root. When digging, give a fairly wide berth around the plant to get as much of the root as possible. Once the plant is removed from the soil, take a few minutes to shave off the woody exterior of the root. Next, dice the root into smaller portions. The smaller you make the pieces, the easier making soap will be.

Yucca soap
All natural yucca soap and shampoo.

With your yucca root chopped into smaller pieces, drop them into a sturdy container and add a small bit of water. Don’t overdo it on the water. You can easily add more water, while removing it once you start the process can cause you to lose some of the soap. Once your water is added, begin to mash the roots. You can use stones, wood, or whatever tool you can devise. As you mash the roots you’ll begin to notice a small bit of saponin secrete from them. Mix this with the water and soon you’ll have a very foamy soap you can use as needed. You can also use it as both a soap and a natural shampoo. Before you dive into using it though, you may want to do a skin test. Some people are allergic to the saponin that creates the soap.

Like all primitive skills, if you give making yucca soap a try, you’ll not only better understand our natural world, but you’ll have a better grasp of the past as well.

Food

The final use of soapweed yucca is its value as a food source. While this prolific plant doesn’t provide us with copious amounts of calories, at certain times of the year it does offer a small snack. What you’ll need to search for are yuccas in bloom. The flowers of soapweed yucca are a crisp and tasty treat if you catch them at the right time of year. Be sure to shake them out, as the creases of the flower are a great place for insects to roost. I’m sure you can cook the leaves somehow, but enjoying them off the plant provides a refreshing snack on a hot day.

As you can see, soapweed yucca is a very useful plant. Although it can’t be regarded as an abundant food source, it can provide other necessities that can add to your knowledge of primitive skills. It is a very useful plant in regards to cordage, and is one of your only option for fire on the grassy plains. You can also make a fine soap if you want to experiment with primitive skills. As with all primitive skills, it is one thing to know about the process. It is another thing entirely to practice it. By actually putting the ancestral knowledge into action, we can continue to keep our most ancient knowledge alive.

xxxxx

Thanks for reading this article on the 4 uses of soapweed yucca.  If you enjoyed it, please follow this blog by clicking the button near the bottom of the page. For those interested in learning more about the uses of different plants, you might find this article useful about the 8 uses of cattail from hunting to dinner plate.