Volume III, No. 3, Spring 1976
by Nancy Honssinger
Fresh greens can be served in almost any way you want to prepare them whether it be with hard boiled eggs, bacon, beans and cornbread, or other foods. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to mixing greens. Depending on your taste almost any greens are good mixed together. River and upland greens can be mixed together or those that are growing at the same time are good together. Garden sorrel and sour dock, lamb's quarter and chard, poke and cow parsley are examples of greens that can be mixed.
Most Ozark cooks prepare their greens by this simple method. Rinse freshly picked greens in several different waters, lifting them out carefully each time to avoid bruising them. Then select the tenderest undamaged leaves and drop them into boiling water. To remove the bitter taste you can boil greens in three different waters, lifting them out each time before adding fresh water. Or you can cook the greens until tender in one salted water in order to retain more vitamin A and C. Stir once in awhile to keep them from packing together.
WILTED DANDELION SALAD
Gather a quantity of dandelion leaves, wash and let soak on a paper towel. Then soak for a few hours in salt water to remove bitter taste. Put in a skillet containing hot ham or bacon fat. Stir the leaves briskly. When they are barely wilted, season with salt and pepper. Serve when leaves are completely wilted.
Also to remove the bitter flavor of the dandelion cover the leaves with boiling water instead of bringing to a boil in cold water.
DANDELION WITH BACON DRESSING
Wash the tender new leaves of the dandelion and then cut the leaves across into several bite sized pieces. Place in a bowl and add a pinch of sugar, salt and a little chopped onion. Cut some bacon into small pieces and brown in a frying pan. When crisp you may, if you wish, add vinegar to the fat (twice as much as there is fat.) When this boils up then pour over the leaves and stir. Garnish with bacon. A combination of greens can be used in this dish.
Gather a mess of dandelion buds. Rinse thoroughly and cook in a small amount of water until tender. Butter, then serve.
Prepare diced strips of cold pork, partially fry, then add a mess of purslane and cook. Serve with butter, salt, and pepper.
Gather the tender young shoots of pokeweed when they reach from four to six inches in length. Pick the leaves from the stalk, wash, and boil in two waters. On the second boiling cook until tender and serve with butter and seasoning in the manner you would fix asparagus.
Although greens can be eaten during their growing season, many people also enjoy greens later in the year, whether it be for use as a laxative or just for good eating. Canning and freezing are two ways to keep greens fresh for use all year around.
Wash tender, freshly picked greens through three or four waters adding salt to the last one. Steam or par boil about ten minutes until wilted then dip out of the water and put hot in jars, covering with boiling water to 1/2 inch from the top. Put one level teaspoon of salt in each quart jar. Wipe off the top of the jar and adjust lids, tighten canning lids then turn back one turn, just enough to loosen it a little. Then boil three hours in a water bath or in a pressure cooker at 10 pounds pressure, quarts for 70 minutes and pints for 60 minutes. Remove from canning bath, tighten the lid and let cool. Tame and wild greens are good canned together such as mustard, swiss chard, lamb's quarter, narrow dock, and poke.
Rinse the freshly picked greens thoroughly in several waters to remove all dirt, checking carefully for any damage to the leaves. Select only the best. Blanch greens in boiling water for two minutes. Drain and cool quickly in cold water before packing in plastic bags and sealing. Freeze immediately. Frozen greens can be kept several months. To prepare put the frozen greens into a small amount of boiling salted water and cook until tender.
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