As one of my herbal mentors, EagleSong E. Gardner would say,
“If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em!”
Common Name: Lion’s Tooth, Witch’s Milk, Wild Endive
Botanical Name: Taraxacum officinale
Plant Family: Asteraceae, the aster family
Parts used: Root, leaf, and flower
· Hairy Hawkweed is one of a few look alike to Dandelion, make sure you are harvesting a plant without any leaf hairs…
· Dandelion has one flower per one stalk. It does not branch or have umbels of any sort.
· The flowers and stalks contain a milky sap. This sap, also known as milky latex, may irritate people’s skin. For those not allergic to it, the sap also helps rid warts J
· Harvest Times:
Leaves-Spring and/or Fall
Roots- Spring time before flowering, Fall time after gone to seed
Flowers-Anytime they’re fully open
· Use flowers immediately. They go to seed when dried and they close up if left in a basket or fridge
Dandelion is one of my favorite weeds. They grow everywhere (even the cracks of the cement jungle) and they never cease to blow people away (or let people blow them away)! Every part of dandelion can be used, so when you dig deep for the root, you might as well take the leaves or flowers and enjoy a tasty garden snack.
Since the roots are quite bitter, I tend to cook with them or dry them out for an alternative coffee drink. The leaves on the other hand can be munched on while your hiking or clearing your garden beds. I’ll never forget Susan Weed’s “Eating Wild”, when she had everyone go outside and eat one thing from the earth. She mentioned that eating just that ONE leaf or ONE berry boosted your vitamin and mineral content for the day. So, remember we don’t need to harvest a significant amount of dandelions or other wild plants to feel any benefits. Walk outside every morning and eat a dandelion leaf. Not only will the bitterness get your day doing, you’ll already have a great start to eating your daily vitamins and minerals.
· Dandelion leaves and roots are great spring liver tonics.
· The leaves are very high in carotenes, vitamin C complex, potassium, and calcium.
· Cooked leaves are a great source of iron, phosphorus, and B-vitamin complex.
· Eating one dandelion leaf before dinner will greatly enhance your digestion.
· Dandelion leaves and roots can be added to soups and stir fries.
· Leaves, chopped very fine are a lovely addition to salads and the blossoms are beautiful on top.
· Roasted dandelion roots can also be used to make a delicious, coffee-like, healthy beverage.
· Dandelion flowers are edible too, and their sweet fragrant is enjoyable in drinks, salads, fritters, cookies and more!
For Liver Tonification:
Make a root or leaf tincture, root decoction, or a fresh or dried leaf tea and use as a classic liver tonic or “blood purifier”.
The root encourages optimal digestion and stimulates bile, which in turn helps break down cholesterol and fat.
Steep fresh dandelions in boiled water for 1 hour.
Strain - keeping both flowers and liquid.
Lie down with flower blossoms on the burned areas for 10 minutes.
Splash the dandelion water on your burn before you go to sleep at night.
For headache, backache, stomach ache:
Enjoy a cup of dandelion flower tea.
Steep the fresh flowers in boiled water for 10 minutes.
Add honey or sugar to taste.
For stiff neck, sinus headaches and sore muscles:
Rub dandelion flower oil on the affected area.
For warts, bee stings, cold sores and blisters:
Dissolve them with the white milky sap found in the dandelion stems.
Cautions & Contradictions: A generally very safe and food-like herb, Dandelion is still a strong diuretic and those with low blood pressure or already excessive urination should avoid its use. Additionally, avoid if you have active gallstones. Some people are allergic to the milky latex of the dandelion flowers and stems. If a rash should develop upon use of this latex, just discontinue the treatment.
Wash whole dandelion plants (leaf to root), chop them up and loosely fill a jar. Add apple cider vinegar to the top, cap tightly, label and date. Let sit for 4 – 6 weeks, and then strain off vinegar from dandelion material. Use over salads or steamed greens as you would any vinegar.
Dandelion Root Coffee
Cut off the leaves and scrub the roots.
Prior to decocting the dandelion root, roast the dried chopped root in a cast iron pan until it is fragrant and has changed color from being off-white to light and dark brown. Or lay the roots on a baking sheet with the oven turned to its lowest setting and the door ajar. It may take
3-4 hours until the roots are shriveled and snap easily. They are done when the insides of the roots are dark brown.
For each 8 oz of water you are making, use 1-2 teaspoons of the roasted root. Add the root to simmering water and continue to simmer while covered for 7–15 minutes.
The resulting brew will be darkly colored. I enjoy my dandelion coffee with cream, and many people enjoy adding honey as well. Enjoy!
Susun Weed in Healing Wise reminds us that dandelion blossoms steeped as tea can help relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, backaches, stomach aches and even depression. So, not only will this dandelion recipe be a tasty treat, it will be another way to access the healing properties of these beautiful sunny yellow flowers.
Dandelion Flower Fritters
A basket of dandelion flowers
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
Bring your basket of flowers inside, find a bowl, and mix together one egg and one cup of milk. Stir in a cup of flour and your fritter batter is ready to go. (If you like your fritters sweet you can add a little maple syrup or honey.)
Now, prepare a skillet on the stove with gently warmed olive oil – keep it over medium heat.
Take one of the flowers and hold it by the greens at the base of the flower petals. Dip the petals into the batter and twirl until the flower is covered.
Drop it into the skillet, flower side down. Continue dipping and dropping flowers, checking the first ones every once in a while to see if they are brown. When they’ve lightly browned, flip them over and brown them on the other side.
When they’re brown on both sides remove them from the skillet and drain the excess oil on paper towel.