A warm, sunny day spent creating a chain from dandelion stems is a happy childhood memory for many. Who hasn’t held the yellow bloom close under a young friends chin, pretending to determine if they like butter, only to rub the flower on their skin leaving a yellow stain?
The much maligned dandelion is the enemy of many gardeners. Money and time is spent eradicating the yellow marauder. There is another side to this herb. All the parts of the plant can be consumed either for food, drink or medicinal purposes.
A truly resilient plant, dandelion’s grow in pastures, lawns, waste ground, sand, rocks and even pop up in the cracks of concrete. They are the first shot of colour to appear in the spring. Yellow is such a happy colour even if we consider the plant a weed.
Harvested from lawns or meadows that have not been sprayed the leaves, flowers or roots can be used for making tea, wine a coffee substitute or salad.
By washing flowers and leaves and steeping in hot water for 15-20 minutes a cup of dandelion tea can be made. To make tea from roots; thoroughly wash roots then chop into fine pieces, heat on high for approximately 2 hours and finally steep 1-2 teaspoons in hot water for 10 minutes.
Local health food stores may offer prepared dandelion root as a coffee substitute. To make your own coffee substitute, roast young dandelion roots to a dark brown colour. Steep roasted roots in hot water, strain and enjoy.
Another use of the yellow plant is the making of wine. They are best harvested between the end of March and beginning of May, using the fermented flowers.
Dandelion’s have more vitamins and minerals than most vegetables. The next time you feel like digging out or spraying dandelions on your lawn think about the great ways they can be used beneficially.