Go ahead and eat a dandelion! The beautiful dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is, to some, a weed. Due to its vibrant color and ability to come through luscious green suburban grass, many people feel the need to kill it. However, with a little education, you can stop dousing the yard with weed killers and start picking dandelions for your use.
People can eat the entire dandelion plant from flower to root. The bitter leaves are rich in vitamins A, E, K, B1, B2, B6, and C. They are also mineral-rich in substances such as magnesium, iron, copper, and folate. It is also used as skin toner, circulation tonic, blood tonic, and digestive tonic.
Some people take dandelion by mouth to treat infections, especially viral infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and potentially cancer. In foods, you can use dandelions as salad greens or in soups, wine, coffees, or teas.
Many cultures have always known of the health importance of a dandelion. If you let dogs, horses, and other animals access them, they will also eat a dandelion. Dandelion contains chemicals that may increase urine production and decrease swelling (inflammation). Once you start eating and enjoying dandelions, you’ll never look at them the same way again.
You can harvest the leaves early in the season, use them as is, or air dry them like any other herb. When the dandelion bud has appeared at the base of the leaves, you can harvest the bud. Some people enjoy pickled dandelion buds, which you make by placing the buds in a jar with vinegar and salt. The yellow flower is very sweet, but the green sepals are bitter.
Other Dandelion uses you can make at home:
- Dandelion infused oil
- Pick dandelion blossoms to fill a glass container.
- Pour olive oil over blossoms until they are fully covered.
- Using a wooden handle of a kitchen utensil, carefully poke the mixture to remove air bubbles.
- Cover glass container with a breathable lid, such as a coffee filter or woven cloth, held on with a rubber band (prevents mold)
- Place it in the sun to steep for a minimum of 2 weeks.
- Strain out the dandelion and store the oil in a jar with a tight-fitting lid
- It’s best to store your infused oil in a cool, dark place.
- Dandelion syrup
- 1 1/2 cups dandelion flowers
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups cane sugar
- 1/4 cup raw honey
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- After harvesting the flowers, lay them out on a towel for about an hour to allow any bugs to crawl away. You can also wash the flowers, but you risk washing away some pollen, which is actually good for you.
- Next, cut off the green base of the flower and discard it. You can squeeze and roll them between your fingers, or cut them with a knife, or just snip them off with scissors. Make sure to get the whole base off since it is bitter.
- Add petals and water to a pot. Bring to a boil, and let it boil for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Remove from heat, allow it to cool slightly, then place the pot in a cool place to let it steep overnight.
- The next morning, strain the liquid into a fine-mesh strainer or a cheesecloth over a bowl. Extract as much of the liquid as you can by squeezing or pressing with the back of a spoon.
- Add the strained liquid to a pot, and add the sugar, honey, and lemon, if using. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, or until the liquid has reduced by half.
- Check for consistency by dipping a spoon in the syrup, letting it cool for a bit, and checking the thickness. If it’s to your liking, remove the syrup from the heat.
- Pour into glass jars, let the syrup cool down to room temperature, and then you can store it in the fridge. It will keep in the fridge for a few months.
- Dandelion coffee with Roasted dandelion root
- Dig up a large bunch of dandelion roots. You’re going to need far more dandelion root than the amount in the photo. Work on 15 times the amount you see above.
- Wash your dandelion roots as best as possible.
- Slice the dandelion roots into chip-like pieces.
- Arrange the root pieces onto an oven tray.
- Roast the dandelion root for 30 minutes at 200°F. The roots need to be brown and dried
- Allow the dandelion root to cool, then finely grind, and roast a second time in an oven for 5 minutes on 180°F. Store in an airtight container.
- Put 6 tablespoons of dandelion coffee grinds into 500ml of boiling water and leave to steep for 30 minutes. Strain into a saucepan and reheat to the desired temperature. Serve with milk and honey if so desired.
- Dandelion honey
- 100 dandelion flower heads
- 2 apples Cut into chunks. Seeds removed.)
- 4 cups of water
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 ½ cups sugar (white or light brown cane sugar)
- 1 micro pinch of salt
- You don’t need to remove the green parts unless you want to soak flowers in the juice overnight. No need to do this.
- Place flowers, apples, lemon juice, and salt into a pot and pour the water over it. Put on the lid and let it boil gently for 20-30 minutes.
- Strain the flowers and apples, save the flower water in a pan.
- Pour the sugar into the pan with the flower water and let it simmer. Don’t put on the lid yet! You are allowed to stir it occasionally in the beginning, but not after. The sugar will recrystallize if you stir it too much as the water boils out. You want to aim for a very low simmer. It can very quickly get to an aggressive boil, and we just want a gentle steam of water evaporating from it. After several hours it should have been reduced to about 2/3.
- When you have reached the desired consistency, turn off the heat and pour into smaller containers.