Updated: Jan 22, 2020
Rather than being frustrated with Dandelions invading your lawn this year, why not embrace them? They offer amazing medicinal properties and are tasty wild food too. In case you didn’t know, European settlers came to America with Dandelion seeds in hand because they didn’t want to miss out of not having this precious plant with them in the New World. We have our forefathers to thank for this golden treasure. As a child, I remember my grandfather religiously made Dandelion wine for one of his health tonics.
What exactly should you do with the multitude of Dandelions? To start with, only harvest Dandelions from lawns that have not been sprayed in several years. Stay away from high traffic areas where there may be contamination from pets or other offenders. If all else fails, you can purchase the greens at your local food coop. However, in my opinion, that takes the fun out of the “hunt”.
Five Ways to Use the Dandelion:
1. Pick and eat the young leaves for a spring tonic.
The tender young spring leaves are loaded with calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K1, potassium, magnesium and beta-carotene. Simply add leaves to your salad if you are new to wild foods as they have a pleasant bitter flavor. The bitter flavor detected by your tongue starts an entire cascade of events happening in your body. Digestive benefits begin to take place. First, the bitterness of the greens causes your body to increase the saliva flow which, in turn, breaks down carbohydrates. Protein digestion is aided by increased HCL production in your stomach and fat digestion benefits by increased bile flow from the gallbladder and liver. All of these reactions are a result of that bitter flavor of the Dandelion leaf. Secondly, the Dandelion leaf also acts as a diuretic. In other words, they will help you remove excess fluids and dampness from your body. By either making a tea from the leaves or eating the greens, you can experience the diuretic properties of this plant.
2. Eat the flowers.
Dandelion fritter flowers are a classic for wild food enthusiasts. It is both fun to collect the flowers and easy to do as an appetizer or snack that the whole family will love. This recipe has two variations: sweet or savory.
Dandelion Fritter Flowers Recipe
4 cups of fresh picked (washed) dandelion flower
2 cups flour
2 cups milk
Mix the milk, flour and eggs and beat until blended well.
Warm some olive oil in a skillet on the stove (keep at medium heat).
Holding the underneath of the flowers, dip into the batter until totally covered in the fritter batter then place into skillet, flower side down.
Once they are brown, flip and brown the other side. If need be, continue flipping until the batter coating is light brown.
Remove from oil and allow excess oil to soak onto a towel or paper towel.
Eat plain or drizzle with maple syrup, honey, or even roll them in icing sugar while they are still warm. Best eaten right away.
For sweet: add one tablespoon of honey (or to taste) plus 1/2 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons total of the following herbs: cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg.
For savory: add a pinch of thyme, rosemary, oregano or other savory herbs. You may also want to add another dash of salt.
3. Make the flowers into a relaxing massage oil.
Dandelion oil can be used to relieve muscle stiffness or achy joints. It’s really easy to make. Just fill a small mason jar with fresh dandelion flowers. Pour the oil over the dandelion flowers and fill the jar to the top. Cover with a lid and let sit in a dark, cool spot for 6 weeks. Strain the dandelion flowers out of the oil with cheese cloth and transfer the oil to a new clean jar. Store it in a cool dark place. If you put it in the refrigerator, it should last well over a year.
4. Build your bones with Dandelion shoots, roots and leaves infused in apple cider vinegar.
Dandelion infused vinegar is filled with minerals, especially calcium, boron and other bone building essentials. Use the vinegar for making salad dressings, taking shots, or adding a couple of teaspoons to your drinking water. This is one of THE best ways to get good vitamins and minerals for healthy bones.
Dandelion Infused Vinegar
1 large jar with lid
As many Dandelions (shoots, root and leaves) as will fit in the jar
Organic apple cider vinegar
Thoroughly wash the Dandelion leaves, and scrub the dandelion roots, then chop both into medium size pieces.
Fill a large jar with Dandelion parts.
Pour the vinegar until the dandelions are covered.
Shake well, and leave in a cupboard for six weeks.
Strain through an unbleached coffee filter or cheese cloth into clean, sterilized jars.
5. Eat the stems to cleanse the gall bladder and balance blood sugar.
In Maria Treben’s book, Health through God’s Pharmacy, she talks about how good Dandelions are for disorders of the pancreas, liver, gall bladder, spleen and blood. Maria encourages eating 10 fresh Dandelion stems for 3 weeks to reduce blood sugar levels, act as a gall bladder cleanse for stones, and for gout, rheumatism and to improve skin conditions.
The stems are chewed slowly and will taste bitter to start with, but only get better the longer you chew them.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.