springtime foraging

hundreds of dandelions
[hundreds of dandelions]

a couple weeks ago, i spent a warm pre-spring afternoon foraging for dandelions. i just heard that my friend, emily, had set up the first LA food swap and i immediately signed up, planning out a few seasonal food projects i could share and trade with others. a recipe for dandelion jelly i found last year made me think i should try some kind of dandelion infusion, so i set out with my scissors and a cloth bag and got to collecting.

once i got home, i cut the base of each flower off, and separated the petal cluster from the surrounding leaves, and dropped each into a jar. as i worked, i noticed that dandelions have a scent that somewhat resembles banana, which made me wonder just what flavors will bloom in this process.

it’s been about 2 of the 3 suggested weeks, and the flavor has developed, though i’m not sure what it’s developed into. it has a very interesting floral flavor, which has been aided in part by the addition of some honey. another week should do it, then i’ll thin it out with some soda and find out what we’re dealing with here.

some other infusions i’m experimenting with include blood orange, which is outstanding, and has the distinct flavor of blood oranges, rather than just a general orange flavor. i’m also working with lemon verbena, which has just grown several shocks of fresh leaves. this extraction is very flavorful and should make some fantastic cocktails. finally, i’ve had lemongrass infusing for 2 weeks, and while it finally has some color, i’m not sure the flavor is anywhere near what i’d expect of lemongrass. perhaps this would be better as a simple syrup. i’ll give it another week, but i’m not sure alcoholic infusion is its best use.

my confirmed contributions to the LA food swap is a chunky, slow-cooked, mixed citrus marmalade [including navel, cara cara and blood oranges, meyer lemons and pink grapefruit], and garlic confit [slow simmered garlic cloves in canola oil for all kinds of savory uses]. if the dandelion liqueur works out, i’ll bring some bottles to trade, or make a mix of the well-matched successful infusions. and if i think of something else to make, i’ll try it out, but so far that’s all i’ve got.

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