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You have heard the expression “You are what you eat” and in this case, I wouldn’t mind it. Who doesnt love a beautiful yellow flower? The Dandelion, also thought of as the common yard weed, is a valuable herb with many culinary and medicinal uses. Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc.

Stop! Don’t Pull it!

The Dandelion plant is a Beneficial Weed for your garden.

The dandelion plant is a beneficial weed, with a wide range of uses, and is even a good companion plant for gardening. Its taproot will bring up nutrients for shallower-rooting plants, and add minerals and nitrogen to soil. It is also known to attract pollinating insects and release ethylene gas which helps fruit to ripen

Cullanary Uses: Salad from my yard!

Every part of the dandelion plant is edible, from the flower to the root! Dandelion greens are wonderful in salads, sauteed or steamed. They taste like chicory and endive, with an intense heartiness overlying a bitter tinge.

Collect dandelion leaves in early spring, when they’re the tastiest, before the flowers appear. Harvest again in late fall. If you harvest year around, blanch to remove bitterness and  make leaves more palatable.  The leaves are higher in beta-carotene than carrots and have more iron and calcium than spinach.

You can also eat dandelion flowers, or use them to make wine. Collect them in a sunny meadow, just before mid-spring, when the most flowers bloom. Some continue to flower right into the fall. Use only the flowerís yellow parts. The green sepals at the flowerís base are bitter. The flowers add color, texture, and an unusual bittersweet flavor to salads. You can also sautÈ them, dip them in batter and fry them into fritters, or steam them with other vegetables. They have a meaty texture that contrasts with other lighter vegetables in a stir-fry dish or a casserole.
The taproot is edible all year, but is best from late fall to early spring. Use it as a cooked vegetable, especially in soups. Pre-boiling and changing the water, or long, slow simmering mellows this root. Sweet vegetables best complement dandelion roots. Sauteing the roots in olive oil also improves them, creating a robust flavor.

Medicinal Uses:

The Dandelion plant provides you with many vitamins: B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.

Dandelion may be used for a wide range of conditions requiring mild diuretic treatment, such as poor digestion, liver disorders, and high blood pressure. Dandelion root is one of the safest and most popular herbal remedies.

The decoction is a traditional tonic. Using this will strengthen the entire body, especially the liver and gallbladder. It helps promote the flow of bile, reduces inflammation of the bile duct, and helps get rid of gall stones. It’s good for chronic hepatitis, it reduces liver swelling and jaundice, and it helps indigestion caused by insufficient bile. The root and leaf tea act on the kidneys as a gentle diuretic, increasing urine production by promoting the excretion of salts and water from the kidney and improving the way they cleanse the blood and recycle nutrients.

The root‘s inulin is a sugar that doesn’t bring out the rapid production of insulin, as refined sugars do. It helps mature-onset diabetes, by normalize blood sugar levels and improve lipid profiles. The root is also believed to have mild laxative effects and is often used to improve digestion. Research suggests that dandelion root may improve the health and function of natural bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Studies have also reported that dandelion root may help improve liver and gallbladder function.

Dandelion leaf infusion also good a good accompaniment to your evenings. All the digestive glands and organs respond to this herb’s stimulation and encourage the production of proper levels of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes. Even after the plant gets bitter, a strong infusion, is rich in vitamins and minerals, and helps people who are run-down.

Fresh or dried dandelion herb is also used as a mild appetite stimulant and to improve upset stomach

There are no poisonous look-alikes, however, some may develop an allergic reaction when in contact with the Dandelion. If you have an allergy to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine, you should avoid dandelion.

A few of our favorite dandelion recipes…

Dandelion coffee aka dandelion tea, is an infusion or herbal tea, and coffee substitute, made from the root of the dandelion plant. It is an excellent caffeine free coffee substitute that tastes very similar to regular coffee known to be high in anti-oxidants.

  1. Harvest the Dandelion: Cut the roots off the bunch with a knife. (If you choose bunches with lots of dandelion greens, you’ll be sure to get larger, better quality roots.) Save the leaves to use in cooked dishes and dandelion salad recipes, or for making dandelion wine.
  2. Prepare the Root: Start by cutting the roots into chunks and soaking batches of them in water repeatedly until the water runs clear when drained. Place the root pieces into a food processor and grind them up to resemble coarse meal.
  3. Roasting the Root: Spread these ground root pieces evenly on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 250 degrees F for about 2 hours. Stirring the roots periodically during the roasting period will help them cook evenly and ensure they don’t burn. (May leave the door open so any extra moisture can escape)
  4. Coffee Time: When they’ve cooled a bit after roasting, grind the dandelion roots in a coffee grinder or food processor to the texture of regular coffee for use in your automatic coffee maker.

Dandelion Pesto

  • 1 bunch of freshly harvested dandelions
  • ½ cup of pine nuts
  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (or salt to taste)

Blend all ingredients in food processor until thoroughly mixed. Serve like you would any pesto, with crackers, veggies, etc.

Dandelion-Infused Honey

  • 1 cup freshly picked dandelion flowers
  • 1 cup raw honey

Rinse off flowers and trim excess stems. Place honey and flowers in a jar and mix thoroughly. Let the flowers soak up honey for three or more days. Use as jam. Spread on bread, crackers, etc.

Dandelion Syrup

  • Dandelion flowers (taraxacum)
  • Mineral water
  • Sugar
  • Lemon

Quantities depend on how many flowers you gather and prepare. Gather as many dandelion flowers as you’ll have the courage to prepare, at least 100 flowers. The exact quantity is not important as you will adjust the quantity of water anyway. The syrup can be prepared in various ways, the idea being to infuse water with the flowers and to add enough sugar for the syrup to be sterile but still soluble.

  1. Washing & Preparing: Start by washing the flowers and cut their base to help detach the yellow petals from the green leaves. We only use the petals. You can also do this entirely by hand but the knife speeds it up.
  2. Infuse: In a saucepan, cover the dandelion petals with water. Mix well until all petals are covered.  Bring to a boil, cover and let infuse in the fridge overnight.
  3. Filter: Pour the mixture through a fine sieve and press with a spoon to extract all juice from the boiled petals. Add a little lemon juice to the taste.
  4. Sweetness: Weigh the liquid. For each gram or pound of liquid, take 0.95 gram or pound sugar. (Too much sugar will prevent the syrup from diluting properly. Too little and it might become contaminated by bacteria.)
  5. Mix & Store: Mix well and heat slowly until all sugar is dissolved. Filter again and store in a bottle.

Some people use more sugar, add a little pectin and cook it a bit longer to turn this syrup into a Dandelion flower jam.

Morning Zing Smoothie (from Raw Family)

  • ½ bunch dandelion greens
  • 2 stalks celery
  • ½ inch fresh ginger root
  • 2 peaches
  • ½ pineapple
  • 2 cups water

Blend in blender until smooth! Enjoy!

Dandelion Flower Fritters

  • 1 egg
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 c flour
  • handful of dandelion flowers
  • *optional –if you like your fritters sweet, add a little maple syrup or honey

Mix together the egg and milk, adding the flour to create the batter. Dredge each dandelion flower in the batter Drop each one, flower side down,  into a skillet with oil and fry. When they’ve lightly browned, flip them over and brown them on the other side.

For a sweet treat, drizzle them with maple syrup, honey, jam, or powdered sugar.  For savory fritters try dipping in mustard or adding some savory herbs to the batter.

Dandelion Cooking Tips & Tricks

  1. One way to kill the bitterness is to blend them with fruit in a green smoothie.
  2. The other way is to process them with some sort of fat, i.e. nuts, oils, and avocados.
  3. Although edible all season, picking dandelion leaves in the early spring or late fall (after the first frost) will get you greens that are less bitter.

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