Uses For Dandelions: What To Do With Dandelions

Uses For Dandelions: What To Do With Dandelions

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Dandelionsare considered weedy pests to many people, but these flowers are actuallyuseful. Not only are they edible and nutritious, but they play an importantrole in ecosystems as well. In your lawn they nourish ladybugs, which in turneat aphids, and they aerate and add nutrients to the soil. Consider all theuses for dandelions before dismissing this common weed.

Medicinal Dandelion Uses

Knowing how to use dandelion for medicinal purposes datesback millennia. Always check with your doctor before using an herbal or naturalmedicine, but generally dandelions are considered safe to consume.

Traditionally, dandelions have been used as a diuretic oreven a laxative. The leaves may have a slight laxative effect and may alsoimprove digestion. The roots of the dandelion may be used to treat issuesassociated with the liver, kidneys, and the gallbladder.

Dandelions may even be able to help manage diabetes. Thereis some evidence that both the roots and the leaves, when consumed, can lowerfasting blood glucose levels.

What to Do with Dandelions in the Kitchen

All parts of the dandelion are edible and nutritious. Mostcommonly eaten are the leaves. Dandeliongreens are rich in vitamins, A, B, C, E, and K. They also have iron,potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Polyphenols in the leaves fight inflammationin the body. Cook the leaves as you would any other greens, or enjoy the young,early leaves raw in salads.

The roots of the dandelion are a particularly good source offiber. You can eat them fresh, use them to make a tea, or dry them for futureuse. If drying, chop them up into smaller pieces when fresh and then dry them.

Use the vibrant yellow flowers of the dandelion to makewine, to infuse vinegar, oils, and honey, or to make tea. You can pull thepetals off—the green parts are too bitter—and use them in desserts, likecookies, cakes, and frosting.

Harvesting Dandelions

There are so many ways to use dandelion plants, this often hatedweed, but never harvest or use plants from lawns where pesticides andherbicides have been used. You can cultivate your own dandelions, or simplyavoid using chemicals on your lawn and use the flowers that crop up in thegrass.

The leaves are best harvested early, before the flowers haveemerged. This is when they are milder in flavor. If you do harvest the oldergreens, they are best cooked, not eaten raw.

My husband and I have never been vigilant about keeping a perfectly green, manicured lawn. It’s not environmentally friendly to do so, and we have a lot of shade that encourages moss over grass in some spots.

We don’t worry too much about dandelions in the grass. They’re cheerful and bright and break up the green, after all. True, the leaves left over after the blooms are spent are not the most attractive, but at least they’re green.

Most of all I like dandelion because it isn’t bindweed. I have one major bed overrun by this insidious weed that resists every attempt to control it. The vines climb up and twist around my daylilies and Hosta plants. At least dandelions stay low to the ground and don’t overtake everything.

Dandelion Recipes

Dandelions are so abundant that they’re easy to harvest! And most of the plant can be used—flowers, leaves, and roots. Yes, even the flowers can be eaten!

Eat Your Greens

As with most greens, the plant leaves are best when they are young and tender. Ideally, gather dandelion leaves before the plant blooms as they will become increasingly bitter and tough.

Young dandelion leaves make an excellent addition to salads, bring a sharp taste to the mix.

Or, the young leaves can be looked ike spinach, sautéed in oil and garlic like many leafy greens.

Try one of these recipes with your next summer dinner:

Photo: Quanthem/Shutterstock

Eat Your Flowers!

One of our favorite recipes is a Dandelion Syrup (also called Dandelion Honey) which you make from the flowers. (See photo at the top of this page.)
It’s great over over pancakes and waffles or mixed with oatmeal. Or stir into tea or a carbonated drink which is an old-style European favorite!

Pick newly yellow dandelion heads (ones on short stems) and try these yummy Fried Dandelion Blossoms

Photo: Lyudmila Mikhailovskaya/shutterstock

For something spreadable, try Dandelion Jelly! Harvest 1 quart of bright, fresh dandelion blossoms!

Dandelion Jelly. Photo by minadezhda/Shutterstock.

Dandelion Drinks

To wash those down, try a “spirit” of spring, like Pink Dandelion Wine or Dent-De-Lion Wine. Dandelions have been used to make these brandy-like drinks for centuries.

Photo: Vuk Saric/shutterstock

Even the dandelion roots can be used for making a caffeine-free coffee-like drink. For a refreshingly different brew in the morning, try Dandelion Root Coffee.

A couple safety notes: Obviously, only eat dandelions from areas that don’t use chemical weedkillers we’d also avoid public areas where dogs may have peed on them. If you are foraging on public land, it’s harvest sparingly do you don’t disturb the plant population and leave plenty for the pollinators! Learn more about safety harvesting dandelions.

Do you eat your weeds? Ever made food or drink with dandelions? Share your recipes or comments below! We’d love to hear from you.

Dandelion Benefits

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.

Dandelion Nutrition

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]

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]

More medicine from your yard, means less from the pharmacy. ‘Let thy food be thy medicine.’

Dandelion for the Home

Dandelion isn’t used for cleaning products or as an essential oil like many other multi-tasking herbs. However it has many uses in the home for children and adults alike.

Compost: Dandelion helps put natural copper in the soil (book source), making it an ideal addition to compost and compost teas.

Dye: The flowers make a delightful dye for yarn and cloth.

Toys: Weave the flowers together for crowns and even garland for creative play.

Wish Jar: Collect the dandelion seed heads in a jar and use them for wishes on a bad day.

Harvesting Dandelions Tender leaves can be picked throughout the growing season. If you are harvesting the blossoms, pick the flowers when they are bright yellow and young. Use them fresh, making sure to remove all of the stems.

If you haven’t noticed, dandelion leaves are bitter. The American diet centers around sweet and salty tastes so many people haven’t developed a palate for bitter foods. You can chop dandelion greens up small enough to mix it into your salad and not even know it is there.

Watch the video: Benefits of Dandelion


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