Dandelion is one of the most widespread plants on the planet. Some may consider it a weed but its uses are many and it should be celebrated rather than poisoned or pulled out. It has high nutrition content packing lots of calcium, potassium and vitamin C among others. Its medical benefits are numerous including; antioxidants, diuretic, bone health, liver health, digestive aid, skin health, weight loss and blood pressure regulator to name a few. In fact the second half of the latin name (officinale) translates to “with uses in medicine”. Dandelion has been a well known medicine for ages, in Chinese medicine an unhealthy liver correlates with anger so some would say the cure for our “angry” society is growing all around us. The whole plant is edible and I will go over my favorite uses.
Dandelion greens are best harvested in the spring when they are first emerging and can be used on salads, in smoothies or dried to make a potent green powder that can be added to anything. The leaves are bitter which I’ve come to love but if it is not something you enjoy cooking the greens in oil with garlic and onion can reduce some of the bitterness. A new recipe that I have recently tried is dandelion pesto and it is pretty incredible. The recipe can be found here
The dandelion has a long tap root that can be used as a tea fresh or dried as well as roasted and used as a tasty coffee substitute (my personal favorite). When gathering dandelion root it is best to harvest early spring or late fall when the beneficial compounds are at their highest levels.
The buds can be used to make a tasty pickled treat. It is best to pick the buds before they have opened into flowers in the early spring. The process can be found here at Ferment Works. They are a great addition to a meal or a nice sweet and sour snack.
The dandelion’s persistence is a testament to the power of nature and all of the good things it has to offer. Do you use dandelion? Let me know if you have any other ways to use this amazing plant.