A favorite, nutrient-packed edible weed.
Dandelion benefits are numerous and profound. Don’t trample, poison or pull them. Instead, harvest and enjoy them for salads, greens, tea, wine, and health!
None of us would pull out our garden crops and toss it—or worse—poison it. Same thing for supplements. We eat the foods we’ve nurtured and it in turn nurtures us. Same thing with vitamins and supplements. We put them to good use for better health and wellness.
So just how did we get to this place where each year Americans spend billions to do just that?
In the early days of America, there were Native American tribes who “hunted” buffalo by driving herds off cliffs. This was called Buffalo Jump or Pishkin in Blackfoot. The buffalo were not intelligent enough to question following the herd off the cliff to certain death.1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_jump
But we are.
Lawns are Lovely… but What if…?
However it is that we got to this place… this monetary and ecological “cliff” of spending billions of dollars on manicured lawns, which we can’t even eat, perhaps it’s time to rethink and adjust course.
What if ~50% of today’s lawns were replaced with growing food via edible landscapes?
We’re not talking regulating or mandating this. We’re not campaigning in favor of having people doing things they don’t want to do.
But if you’re here, chances are you’re already into gardening and growing things for beauty and as well as for food. So we’re just fantasizing over what’s possible and how it might change things if more people grew more plants for beauty and for food.
The Economics of Growing Food Instead of Grass
But really… isn’t It time to stop spending millions to destroy “weed” plants like plantain and dandelion. Time to stop paying money to poison “weeds” provided by nature to be our food and medicine, to save a lawn that we then have to serve.
It’s interesting to contemplate isn’t it…? How much work goes into a nice lawn and you can’t even eat it. 🤔
To mow a lawn takes less effort than tending a garden of the same size.
But you can’t eat it.
Grocery Stores have Decided for Us
“Part of the resistance to eating plants that we believe to be weeds… is that we are conditioned to only consider the items we find in the grocery store as foods.
~Derek Markham writes on TreeHugger.com
We first bought dandelion greens from Whole Foods some years ago. Nowadays, we can occasionally find them at another of our local grocery store chains. But it’s rarely organic and you can’t count on them to be a staple item.
It just makes sense that we are conditioned to eat what’s readily available for mass production and that is often determined by what holds up to shipping and shelf life. Produce that’s in most North American grocery stores is but a small fraction of the wonderful foods available to us from nature’s bounty.
We’re not Casting Blame
No one is at fault here. It’s just a natural consequence of growing populations and mass food production. Some foods just don’t hold up as well. This is where the locavore farm-to-table approach is beneficial and economical.
This is also where market gardeners selling through venues like farmer’s markets is beneficial. Smaller growers can grow a wider variety and bring them directly to the end consumer, for easy access to fresh and less common foods.
For example, we’re growing pawpaws, and they’re a delicious little fruit, but they have a short shelf life and don’t travel well. You might find some mid August to late October from local sellers, but rarely in grocery stores.
Produce in grocery stores is but a fraction of the wonderful foods available to us from nature’s bounty.
We Love Lawns too…
So again, we’re not against lovely lawns.
We love the feel of grass beneath our toes as much as anyone, and the sweet summer fragrance of fresh cut grass is wonderful. We’re just offering another perspective toward restoring some healthy and practical traditions toward a better balance of nature and nurture.
We can create new habits and habitats by growing more plants that nurture people and nature.
It may be different for you. If you want lots of lawn, then go for it! But… either way, don’t forget to pay heed to the food and health value inherent in the “lowly dandelion”… a lion of an herb!
The “lowly dandelion” is a lion of an herb, packed with powerful nutrients and healing.
Which, for this article, brings us to the stalwart and faithful and ever so persistent, dandelion! Often considered a nuisance or a weed, dandelion actually has numerous culinary and medicinal uses with health benefits.
Okay! Now that we’ve covered some philosophy and opinions, to plead the case for our favorite herb, let’s look into why dandelion can be considered a superfood.
Health, wellness and ecology doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or radical. We can simply plant our values by planting more of the plants that sustain us.
My favorite salad is dandelion greens with roasted hazelnuts and a garlic balsamic dressing. For some, it may be too bitter, but keep trying it because plants vary in bitterness, and as with most plants, the younger leaves are less bitter.
But… if you still don’t care for it, blend in one cup dandelion greens with your favorite lettuce for a milder version with most of the nutritional benefit.
Dandelion greens are one of the most nutritious greens available.
One cup of raw dandelion greens contains:
- 112% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A
- 535% RDA of vitamin K
- 32% RDA of vitamin C
- 103 mg of calcium
- 1.7 mg of iron
- 218 mg of potassium.
Dandelion Greens Benefits and Uses
Dandelion greens add color and texture to salads, stir-fry, and soups. Dandelion leaves contain over two dozen nutrients and are a good source of beta carotene, lutein, and vitamin H, which has been proven to help weight loss.
When to Harvest Dandelion Greens
Harvest fresh green dandelion leaves in early spring before they grow bigger and more bitter.
Dandelion Root Uses and Benefits
Dandelion root is also used for culinary purposes. It can be added to soups or ground up and roasted to make a drink similar to coffee without the caffeine, or dried for a powerful detox tea.
The root of the dandelion is full of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients, including inulin, which is helpful in controlling diabetes.
Drinking dandelion “coffee” made from the root, helps stimulate the digestive system.
When to Harvest Dandelion Roots
It is best to harvest the roots in early spring or late fall when most of the nutrients are stored there.
We prefer to harvest for roots in fall, so as to allow a full growing season and harvesting of the flowers and leaves first.
Dandelions are perennials, but take two years before first harvest. So if you want to grow for the roots, you could plan on harvesting for leaves and flowers in spring then for the roots after flowering and before going to seed.
GROWING DANDELION: Dandelion can be harvested in its 2nd year of growing.
Dandelion Flower Uses
Dandelion flowers, contain ~115 times more polyphenols than dandelion roots.
- Dandelion wine
- Dandelion tea
- Sprinkled in salads
- For cosmetics
- For medicinal salves and balms
- Antioxidant – luteolin
Dandelion Flowers and Greens Contain Luteolin – a naturally-occurring flavonoid, with potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, apoptosis-inducing and chemopreventive activities.
SOURCE: US Library of Medicine
DANDELIONS for ANTI-AGING: dandelion consumption encourages apoptosis toward anti-aging through cell death and regeneration of healthy cells.
The Real Hidden Treasure in Your Backyard
In the past, there were fewer studies on the treasure trove of nutrients and medicines in the backyard weeds because, well… who would benefit by funding such studies?
Sure… pharmaceutical companies can make drugs from these constituents—and they do. Aspirin, after all, comes from spiraea, salicylic acid, from a biological genus of shrubs, plants and trees, including willow bark.2)https://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/12/22/aspirin.history/index.html
But if everyone can grow their own remedies, then there’s less need for big pharma. If you’re growing your own medicine and supplements, then there’s less money to be poured into studying weed plants for medicinal benefits.
Subsequently, much of what is known on the healing properties of dandelion, weeds, shrubs and trees is passed down through the ages. Some would call this folklore. Perhaps some of it is. But consider this: “modern medicine has been around for a fraction of the time of indigenous and folk medicine.
Fortunately for us all, today, the nutritional and chemical profile of dandelion is widely known and used in pharmaceutical, supplements and over-the-counter healing remedies.3)https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/Dandelion.html
More medicine from your yard, means less from the pharmacy. ‘Let thy food be thy medicine.’
Dandelion Powerhouse of Nutrients
The bottom line?
If you had a multivitamin supplement that contained the vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals, such as iron, potassium, and zinc, would you try to get rid of it?
No, of course you wouldn’t! You’d recognize the value and make good use of it.
Save Lots of Money
The average 30-60 day supply of a multivitamin containing most of the vitamins and minerals contained in dandelion sells for around $45.
You can probably find others with close approximate nutrients from $15 and up. But…
You can buy packets of ~500 dandelion seeds for just $10!! It just makes sense to grow some doesn’t it!?
Dandelion Health Benefits – a King of a Plant
Excerpted from NaturalRemedies.org4)https://www.naturalremedies.org/dandelion/
- Weight loss
- Liver detox
- Skin ailments
- Hepatitis and jaundice
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Blood purifier
- Cleanses the digestive system
- Removes heavy metals from body tissues
- Helps dissolve kidney stones
- Weight loss
- Remedy acne
- Lower high blood pressure
- Cure anemia
- Lower serum cholesterol levels
- Reduce acid indigestion and gas
- Improves some cancers
- Help control diabetes
- Reduce the inflammation of the liver
- Helps fight cancers in the mouth and the lungs (vitamin A)
- May lower blood pressure
- Reduce the risk of stroke (potassium, along with magnesium)
- Dandelions are full of both potassium and magnesium.
- Healthy fiber – reduces:
- heart disease
- Builds strong bones and reduce high blood pressure (calcium content)
- Lowers stress (B vitamins)
WOW! Now that sturdy, determined and prolific dandelion is truly a king of a plant!
Dandelion wine sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It immediately brings to mind summer evenings and porch swings watching sunsets with family and friends.
If you like wine and have fields of dandelions, you may just want to try this.
Buying Dandelion Wine
We found some dandelion wine last year from a seller on Amazon and it was great. But that seller ran out so we tried another, that wasn’t good at all.
We have since confused which one was good and which wasn’t, so not naming them here. Besides, in fairness, some “years” of wine are better than others, so we may try them again.
We originally purchased our Elderberry wine and Dandelion wines through sellers on Amazon. However now it appears that Amazon is no longer selling wines.
Where to Buy Dandelion Wine
- Maple River Winery, ND
- Hidden Legend
- Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart from Australia
- Breitenbach Wine Cellars, in Dover, Ohio
If we try these or come up with other good sources, we’ll post it here. Meanwhile, you might try local festivals and Farmer’s Markets for some home grown, homemade versions.
If you make your own or try any of these, please let us know how it goes or how you like them.
Dandelion Wine Recipe
- 1/2 gallon dandelion flower pets
- 2 Oranges – washed and thinly sliced peels, including peels
- 1/2 Lemon – washed and thinly sliced peels, including peels
- 1/2″ piece ginger root – peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds sugar
- Half ounce of wine yeast
- Gather a half gallon of fresh dandelion flowers.
- Separate the yellow flower petals from the bitter green sepals (the small green leaves under the flowers).
- Break up flowers into petals. This takes time due to the tiny petals.
- Place flower petals in a one gallon crock and pour a half gallon of boiling water to cover completely.
- Cover and steep for three days.
- Strain steeped liquid into a pot.
- Squeeze the flowers to get all the juice from them; discarding flowers into compost.
- Add the ginger root, lemon and orange juice, peels and sugar to the liquid.
- Boil for 20 minutes.
- Cool liquid, then stir in yeast.
- Pour into a fermenting jug snugly fitted with an airlock.
Ferment for six days to three weeks. When the bubbles stop rising from bottom to top, your fermentation is complete.
FERMENTATION IS COMPLETE WHEN:
- No more bubbles rising from bottom to top or around edge of glass
- Liquid is not clouded
When the fermentation stops, transfer to sterilized bottles with caps or tightly fitted corks. Bottle and cork your fermented dandelion liquid.
Sorry. You’ll need to wait and let your dandelion wine age for at least six months, so set it and forget it. This is where the flavored dandelion water becomes wine.
But if you make this in spring… say April, you can be enjoying dandelion wine in celebration of your fall harvest in October!
This recipe can be found on TwinEagles.org
And if you’re really into dandelion recipes, how about dandelion cookies? This is also a fun thing to do with the kiddos.
Dandelion Flower Cookie Recipe
- 1⁄2 cup coconut oil
- 1⁄2 cup honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup unbleached, unbromated flour or gluten free flour mix
- 1 cup dry oatmeal
- 1⁄2 cup dandelion flower petals
1) Preheat the oven to 375.
2) Mix the oil and honey and then beat in the 2 eggs and vanilla.
3) Remove the yellow flower parts from the green parts (compost the green parts).
4) Stir in the flour, oatmeal, and dandelion flowers.
5) Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls onto an oiled cookie sheet.
6) Bake for 10-15 minutes.
7) Cool and enjoy!
SOURCE: Recipe from site that no longer exists: PreparingForOurChildrensFuture.com.
Enjoy the Mighty Dandelion!
We could go on and on about dandelion, but ending with dessert seems like a good place to stop for now.
For are a couple helpful videos on harvesting dandelion leaves, flowers and roots, we’re sharing some helpful videos by others, below here.
How to Harvest Dandelion Leaves and Flowers
VIDEO 1: Harvesting and how to use dandelion leaves, flowers and stems, by Dan McDonald of LifeRegenerator.
How to Harvest Dandelion Roots
VIDEO 2: How to harvest dandelion roots – and the benefits of letting dandelions grow in your garden, by Heidi of Rain Country Homestead.
Let’s keep on growing!
I’m LeAura Alderson, entrepreneur, ideator, media publisher, writer and editor of GardensAll.com. Pursuits in recent years have been more planting seeds of ideas for business growth more than gardening. However, I’ve always kept plants, been interested in medicinal herbs and nutrition and healing from food over pharmacy. I assist in our family gardening projects primarily (at present) through the sharing of information through our websites and newsletters.
As a family we’re steadily expanding our gardening, experimentation and knowledge around all things gardening, edible landscaping, fresh organic foods and self sustainability and hopefully, farming in our future. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the creative ingenuity of the GardensAll community. I also own and manage theiCreateDaily.com.
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