When we think of dandelions we are normally thinking of ways to rid them from our lawns and pathways but they are much more than just an invasive plant. Dandelions are a very widespread herb and can be found in lawns, pastures, gardens and vacant lots. They can be found from sea level to high in the mountains.
Young leaves are best when harvested in the spring or early summer. They can be served raw or cooked. Some people find the taste bitter and choose to blanch the plants first. By blanch I don’t mean the cooking method of briefly scalding a food item in boiling water and then shocking it in cold water. To blanch dandelions you cover them with a board or something of that nature to deprive the plants from sunlight. They will turn pale and light green in a couple of weeks. The leaves are high in vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and phosphorus.
I tried some raw young leaves from dandelions in my garden and thought they tasted similar to spinach at first then it got a bit bitter similar to kale. I think it would be great sautéed.
Regardless of the season you can harvest you or old leaves to dry and store to make tea. You could also take the dried leaves and roast then dry them to create a coffee substitute. This can be achieved by steeping 2 Tablespoons of ground roots in a quart of boiled water or pace the grounds in a percolator like coffee.
You can use the slice clean raw roots into a salad or add them to some vegetables for dinner.
I harvested a dandelion that took over my Poblano Pepper plant from last year to try what the root tasted lick. I washed it and found it looked very similar to a pale carrot or young parsnip. However, the taste was extremely bitter and overwhelming. I don’t know if I could eat it raw. I would like to try pickling some dandelion root in the near future because I have a feeling they would taste great in that form.
The flowers can be used as a decorative edible flower. They look beautiful in a pancake or fried up in fritters. If you gather enough flowers you can make a dandelion wine.
- The dandelion seed balls can be used as a barometer to predict whether it will rain or not. If the down flies with no wind it will rain.
- The dandelion was previously called the “shepherds’ clock” because it opens at five in the morning and closes at eight in the evening.
- Dreaming of dandelions was thought to mean bad luck.
- Dandelion or Taraxacum officinale literally translated means “the official remedy for disorders.”
- Dandelion tea has been used in the past as a tonic, mild laxative and diuretic.
Sources: Profiles of Northwest Plants by Peggy Robinson(book), Northwest Foraging by Doug Benoliel(book)