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Dandelion for Food, Tea, Wine and Health

A favorite, nutrient-packed edible weed.

Would you poison your food or throw away good medicine? No, of course not!

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.1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_jump The buffalo were not intelligent enough to question following the herd off the cliff to certain death.

But we are.

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, it’s time to rethink it and adjust course.

It’s 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, so we can save the lawn that we then have to serve. And sure…

To mow a lawn takes less effort than tending a garden of the same size.

But you can’t eat it.

Derek Markham writes on TreeHugger.com:
“Part of the resistance to eating plants that we believe to be weeds, in my opinion, is that we are conditioned to only consider the items we find in the grocery store as food, and not things that the rest of the neighborhood sees as unwelcome invaders in lawns and gardens. And unless we’ve been exposed to eating plants that are seen as common garden weeds, and had them prepared for us, we’re probably not likely to try to eat them on our own. Once in a while, we might come across dandelion greens or purslane for sale in the produce section of the grocery store, or the farmers market, but for the most part, many common edible garden weeds aren’t available anywhere else except for our lawns or garden beds. And that’s a shame.”2)http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/eat-dandelions-9-edible-garden-weeds.html

We agree. Remember, we are conditioned to eat what’s readily available for mass production and that 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.

Produce in grocery stores is but a fraction of the wonderful foods available to us from nature’s bounty.

No we’re not against lovely lawns.3)https://gardensall.com/go-organic-for-lovely-lawns/

We love grass beneath our toes as much as anyone, and the sweet summer fragrance of fresh-cut grass is wonderful. We’re just offering one perspective toward bringing these things back into better balance.

For us that means it’s time to start planting our values into plants that sustain us. It’s time to grow plants that produce food and health. 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”… that is a lion of an herb!

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 next.

The Delightful Dandelion is Another Superfood

Dandelion greens are one of the most nutritious greens available.

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.

One dandelion salad, or, just one cup of raw greens has a whopping:

  • 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.

Additional Uses

Dandelion leaves are also a good source of beta carotene, lutein, vitamin H, which has been proven to help weight loss, and over two dozen other nutrients. Dandelion greens add color and texture to salads, stir-fry, and soups. The greens are the leaves. It is best to harvest them in early spring, well before the last frost is expected. They need to be gathered before the flowers bloom or they will be bitter. The best time is when the leaves have just emerged.

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 negative side effects, or dried root for a 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. 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.

Or… to have a place in the garden for the early spring plants to grow and then harvest them for roots, flowers, leaves and stems when it’s time to plant the first crop of the season.

The flowers are used for making dandelion wine, dandelion tea, sprinkled in salads and cosmetics. Dandelion flowers are good for the antioxidant luteolin, which is found in them.

There’s not much money to be poured into studying weed plants for medicinal benefits, so much of what is known on the healing properties of dandelion is passed down through the ages. Some would call this folklore. Perhaps some of it is. However, since the nutritional and chemical profile of dandelion is known, and the health benefits of many of these nutrients are known, certain conclusions have been naturally drawn.(http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/Dandelion.html))

The bottom line? If you had a multivitamin supplement that contained 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.

Here’s a 30-60 day supply of a multivitamin that has most of what dandelion has, currently selling for $41, and you can probably find some with close approximate nutrients from $15 and up.

Here’s a packet of 500 dandelion seeds for under $10. Makes sense to grow some doesn’t it!?

Benefits of the Dandelion Herb

Excerpted from NaturalRemedies.org4)http://www.naturalremedies.org/dandelion/

Weightloss… liver detox… skin ailments…

The dandelion weed or herb has been associated with improving liver function and liver diseases such as hepatitis and jaundice. It is a strong diuretic that does not deplete potassium in the body. It has been shown to improve both constipation and diarrhea. It purifies the blood, cleanses the digestive system, removes heavy metals from body tissues, and can help dissolve kidney stones. It has been shown to help weight loss, cure acne, lower high blood pressure, cure anemia, lower serum cholesterol levels, reduce acid indigestion and gas, improve some cancers, and help control diabetes all with no negative side effects.

  • The sodium in dandelions is thought to reduce the inflammation of the liver.
  • Vitamin A helps fight cancers in the mouth and the lungs.
  • Potassium, along with magnesium, has been shown to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Dandelions are full of both potassium and magnesium.
  • The fiber in dandelions lowers cholesterol, is beneficial to diabetes, and fights cancer and heart disease.
  • Calcium has been shown to build strong bones and reduce high blood pressure.
  • B vitamins lower the effects of stress.

Dandelion Wine

Dandelion wine sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It immediately brings to mind summer evenings and porch swings watching sunsets with family and friends. We’re going to try making some this year for the first time. But… we’d love to be able to make a version that doesn’t have so much sugar!! But this one, looks like a great place to start. Once we get good at it, we can tweak it. 🙂

We found some last year from a seller on Amazon and it was great. That seller ran out so we tried another dandelion wine seller on Amazon and we did not like that one at all. So we definitely do NOT recommend this one. If we come up with another good source, we’ll post it here. Meanwhile, you might try local festivals and Farmer’s Markets for some home grown, home made versions.

Of course you can make your own. It does take a lot of flowers and some time and patience. Please let us know if you do.

Delectable Dandelion Wine Recipe

By Jeannine Tidwell on TwinEagles.org

Ingredients

  • Half gallon dandelion flowers
  • Juice and thinly sliced peels of two oranges
  • Juice and thinly sliced peels of one half of a lemon
  • Small (approximately half inch) piece of ginger root
  • One and a half pounds sugar
  • Half ounce yeast

How to Make Dandelion Wine

On a spring or summer day when it is sunny, go out and gather a half gallon of dandelion flowers. Separate the yellow flower petals from the green sepals (the small green leaves under the flowers). The reason for this is because the green sepals are bitter in flavor and you don’t want to put that flavor into your wine.

Put flower petals in a one gallon crock and pour a half gallon of boiling water over them. Make sure that the dandelion flowers are fully covered and soaking in the boiling water. Cover and steep for three days.

After three days strain the flowers from the liquid and squeeze flowers to get all the juice from them. Pour into a cooking pot. At this stage in this dandelion wine recipe, add the ginger root, lemon and orange juice and peels to the liquid. Next add in sugar and gradually boil for 20 minutes.

Pour liquid back into crock and let cool. Now add the yeast. Pour into a fermenting jug snugly fitted with an airlock.

This will ferment anywhere from six days to three weeks while your liquid begins its’ process of magically transforming into wine.

When the fermentation stops, transfer to sterilized bottles with caps or tightly fitted corks. Let stand for six months. During this process your wine is going to season. This is when the true alchemy of this dandelion wine recipe comes to completion as it embodies its final full-bodied flavor in those months of summer and fall when you are out and about enjoying your time in nature.

This recipe can be found on TwinEagles.org 5)http://www.twineagles.org/dandelion-wine-recipe.html

And if you’re really into dandelion recipes, how about dandelion cookies?

Dandelion Flower Cookie Recipe

From Laurie Neverman on CommonSenseHome.com, who said: “I used a recipe from my friend Hannah at PreparingForOurChildrensFuture.com”

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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!

dandelion cookies
Dandelion Cookies – Image by Laurie Neverman of CommonSenseHome.com

We could go on and on about dandelion, but we’ll stop here for now. Please let us know your favorite dandelion recipes and uses. You can comment on the Gardens All Facebook Page or send an email.

Oh! AND… we just found this dandelion lemonade recipe from LearningHerbs.com! Looks yummy! Bookmarking for next spring.6)http://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/dandelion-recipe/

For are a couple helpful videos on harvesting dandelion.

VIDEO 1: Harvesting and how to use dandelion leaves, flowers and stems, by Dan McDonald of LifeRegenerator.

 

VIDEO 2: How to harvest dandelion roots – and the benefits of letting dandelions grow in your garden, by Heidi of Rain Country Homestead.


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 been interested in medicinal herbs and getting nutrition and healing from food over pharmacy. As a family we’re eager to dig more deeply into gardening and edible landscape for the love of fresh organic foods and self sustainability. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the creative ingenuity of the GardensAll community.

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