Whether you think dandelions are delightful or dreadful, they may have more use than you think.
Taraxacum officinale, the botanical name for dandelion, translates as “official remedy.” Every part of the plant is edible and has medicinal powers.
For example, dandelion juice, the milky sap dripping from the hollow stems, is an effective remedy for warts when it is applied for four days. Dandelions are rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, niacin and vitamins A, C and B1. Dandelion flowers contain luteolin, an antioxidant, and have demonstrated antioxidant properties without cytotoxicity.
One way to make peace with the prolific plants is to make food out of them. For salads, gather greens for salads before the flowers appear. The younger they are, the more tender (less bitter) they are. When the leaves are a little older, they are best boiled in salted water for five minutes, then seasoned with butter and vinegar.
POTATO SALAD WITH DANDELION LEAVES
1 lb. potatoes, boiled with the skin and chopped
2 handfuls tender dandelion leaves, washed and chopped
3 T chives, minced
1 T mustard (Dijon)
5 T olive oil
3 – 4 T balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper, and hot vegetable broth to taste
In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, greens and chives. Whisk together the mustart, olive oil and vinegar and add to the potato mixture. Add salt, pepper and hot vegetable broth to taste. DANDELION SPREAD 1 cup young dandelion leaves 1/2 cup cottage cheese 1/4 cup nuts your favorite salad dressing Mix all ingredients in your blender, adding enough dressing to make it the consistency of a spread for crackers or bread.
BATTER-FRIED DANDELION BLOSSOMS
From Native Harvests by Barrie Kavasch
1 T water
1/4 cup nut oil
2 quarts freshly picked dandelion blossoms, washed and dried
1 1/2 cup corn meal
Add water to eggs and beat well. Heat nut oil to sizzling in cast-iron skillet. Dip dandelion blossoms, one at a time, into water-egg mixture, then into corn meal. Sauté battered flowers in the oil, turning often until golden. Drain on a paper towel. Serve hot or cold. Emily Dickinson in a letter to her sister: “Forgive me if I never visit. I am from the fields, you know, and while quite at home with the dandelion, make a sorry figure in the drawing room.” Dandelions seeds have no dormancy period and, without frost, will germinate in three days at any time of year. The resulting seedlings produce their own seed in six months. Seeds even mature in a flower that has been cut and left lying on the ground.
It is said, the number of blows required to dislodge all dandelion seeds from the “blowball” determines the true hour of the day.
ITALIAN STYLE DANDELION GREENS
1 pound dandelion greens
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small red pepper, crushed
1/4 cup cooking oil
salt and pepper
Wash the greens in salted water; cut leaves into 2-inch pieces; cook uncovered in about 1/2 inch of boiling water for 10 minutes. Sauté onion, garlic and red pepper in oil. Drain greens; add to the onion mixture and season to taste. Heat slowly; serve with grated parmesan. From Spark Estes: “There are lots of seeds in each dandelion, about 254 each from my sample. Lots of seeds grow, 79 to 145 plants out of each dandelion. If there are 79 new plants from one dandelion there will be 6,241 new dandelions in two years.” "Dandelions are not a problem for the environment," says herbalist, author and Boulder Dandelion Festival co-director Brigitte Mars. Rather, "herbicides are."
OLD DANDELION WINE
From Dandelion Celebration by Peter Gail
3 qts. dandelion flowers
3 lbs. white sugar
1 pkg. (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1 slice toast
Remove the green parts of the dandelion flowers and place the flower heads in a large, clean crock or jar. Bring 4 qts. of water to a boil and pour it over the flowers. Let stand three days, stirring once a day. On the fourth day, pour the contents of the crock into an enamel kettle. Squeeze the lemons and orange into a bowl and set aside. Add the lemon and orange rinds and sugar to the kettle. Bring to a full boil and simmer for one hour. Add the citrus juices, let cool, and pour back into the jar. Soften the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water to make a paste and spread on the toast. Float the toast on top of the jar of liquid and let stand for three to six days. Strain the liquid and pour back into jar, letting it stand overnight. The next day, strain through filter paper and pour into clean, sterilized bottles. Cork lightly until the bubbling (fermentation) stops (about three weeks), then secure corks firmly and store. The wine should mature for at least six months before drinking.
“Dandelion coffee (also dandelion tea) is an infusion or herbal tea, and coffee substitute, made from the root of the dandelion plant. The roasted dandelion root pieces and the beverage have some resemblance to coffee in appearance and taste. After harvesting, the dandelion roots are dried, chopped, and roasted. They are then ground into granules, which are steeped in boiling water to produce dandelion coffee. ” – Wikipedia