You Can Eat Dandelions!
Dandelions have a bad reputation among the bowling green lawn brigade for putting as blemish on their otherwise ‘perfect’ monoculture. The dandelion (Taraxacum sp.) is the quintessential lawn weed. They are also delicious! The plants flowers, roots and leaves are all edible either raw or cooked and the plant itself is extremely common, it can be found anywhere! Why aren’t dandelions a part of your diet?
Before we go just eating any random dandelion we find on the street it is important to go over the basic concerns. Has it been sprayed with chemicals that we don’t necessarily want in our bodies? Has it been peed on by that dog over there? Important questions! We all have our own thresholds for risk tolerance and management so that is all I will say on the matter. I will say that I don’t stress too much when picking my own dandelion salad.
Dandelion leaves can be harvested at any point in the growing season. Smaller, younger leaves are generally more palatable if eating raw by themselves or in a salad. The larger leaves can be a little bitter for some people and are best used in a stir-fry, soup or after steaming. Make sure not to overcook the leaves as a little will remove the bitterness but a lot will remove the flavour. Dried dandelion leaves can even be used to make a refreshing tea.
Dandelion flowers are crunchy and sweet. They can be eaten raw, fried, or even used to make dandelion wine. I am yet to make dandelion wine but it is on my to do list!
The dandelion root can be dried, roasted and used as a coffee substitute. They can also be added to any recipe that calls for a root vegetable. Personally I think this is a lot of work for the reward but dandelion ‘coffee’ in particular is worth trying at least once.
One Tough Plant
Dandelions can be found everywhere and there is a simple explanation for that. These plants are tough! They have deep tap roots that mine minerals and draw water from deep underground. This makes them a useful plant in the permaculture garden where they can help to break up compacted ground and start the soil building process. This is also why dandelions are at home in the turf monoculture, they thrive in poor conditions and damaged soils. Dandelions sound too good to be true. A low maintenance plant that tastes great, is full of nutrition and one that works for us in the garden. Why not forage your own today?