The Much Maligned Dandelion

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.

Advertisements

Dandelions

Dandelions, dandelions and more dandelions! You can spray them; using approved chemicals, dig them out or create your own spray with directions gleaned on the internet. The yellow, happy heads sway in the breeze and taunt the fussy gardener. Their DNA allows them to duck when the lawn mower approaches. It is an ongoing battle between gardener and weed. Driving around a sub-division pristine, green lawns are bordered with bright yellow lawns. The homeowner with the dandelion populated lawn may choose to leave them undisturbed for various reasons. A lack of time in their busy days does not allow them to dig out the numerous weeds. They may not want to use any chemicals regardless of being approved by government rules; or they may simply lean towards the natural look.

It does not seem to matter the weather for these yellow demons to survive.  Dry, wet, hot or cold they thrive.  They pop up in sprawling lawns, fields, ditches, between the cracks of walkways and slip through fences.  These characteristics would be wonderful for food crops to develop.

SAM_1756

On the positive side dandelion greens can be used in a healthy salad or steamed to accompany a meal. Add wild leaks to the salad with an oil and vinegar dressing and you have a natural tasty treat. Speaking of wild leaks, my mother would ban us from the house when we returned from foraging the woods for them and having eaten a few on the way home. If you have not had the pleasure, wild leaks cause very pungent breathe but are so yummy.

Check on the internet for a recipe to make your own dandelion wine. I have never had the pleasure but some folks love this beverage.

Bottom line, dandelions are here to stay. They can be limited or embraced. Your choice.