Saturday, July 15, 2017

How to Pickle False Dandelion (Cat's Ear)


One of the most noxious (according to some ignorant people) weeds in the Pacific Northwest is Cat's ear, also known as False Dandelion. Similar to Dandelion, it belongs to the sunflower, daisy and lettuce family, known as the Asteraceae family. I believe all (but I am not an expert in eating wild vegetables) members of the asteraceae family are edible. Correct me if I am wrong.

Cat's ear is very nutritious, probably more so than lettuce because it has a deeper tap root system than lettuce and it is a perennial, instead of annual, vegetable. It tastes much milder (less bitter) than dandelions. Its texture is not as tender as dandelion, so I normally wouldn't use it for salad. You can saute it, but I prefer to pickle it. After pickling it for more than a week, it will become a bit softer and a little sour because of the acetic acid created by some yeast or bacteria. Acetic acid is a short-chain fatty acid that is beneficial not only to your digestive system, but also to your health. Acetic acid is also a nutrient readily absorbed in your small intestine.

Pickling cat's ear is extremely easy. Get an empty jar. Remove the flowers and flower stems from your cat's ear. (You may also use the flower to create some flower tea!)  Dump the leaves into the empty jar. Add at least one tablespoon of salt to it. Shake well so that each leave is in contact with some salt. Close the lid. Put the jar into the refrigerator and wait for at least 1 week because you want it to turn sour.

You can use the pickled cat's ear for cooking fava beans, mung bean sprout, meat or mushrooms, etc. Before you chop pickled leaves into tiny pieces, you should wash it thoroughly to remove any excessive salt, depending on your taste.

Beside pickling cat's ear, you can also use exactly the same method to pickle daikon leaves, radish leaves, turnip leaves, ... As a matter of fact, to be anything less tender than lettuce or spinach can be pickled. If you want to be a bit sophisticated, you can add some of your favorite spice, such as dill, black pepper, mustard seeds, etc, into your pickling jar.

Happy pickling!

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