Spring is past, but alas, I wanted very much to share the marvels of new spring growth. So, I rekindled this blog post and refreshed it. It takes some serious waiting and fidgeting but indeed the heralders of the changing seasons will unfurl their buds, burst up new shoots and unveil those long-awaited-for Spring greens. Among these early gifts are my favorites….Dandelions.
The whole plant is edible and so packed with nutrition that it’s truly one of God’s greatest wild blessings. It is the ultimate health food!
Nutritionally, it is high in Protein and Potassium (regulates water balance which is important for the nervous system) and high in Calcium: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron. The USDA daily recommended daily allowance for Calcium is 800 mg. Here is an interesting comparison: 1 cup of Spinach has 102 mg 1 cup of Kale has 206 mg 1 cup of Dandelion has 4,000 mg How is that for a super food!
Medicinally, it’s herbal actions are: Diuretic, Hepatic, Bitter, Cholagogue, Anti rheumatic, Anti spasmodic, Aperient, Digestive, Laxative, Tonic, Nutritive, Galactagogue, Lithotriptic
Anyone want to say their apologies for the many attempts to kill Dandelion over the years?
Dandelion is indeed the King of the weeds! The botanical name for Dandelion is Taraxicum offinicale. The ‘officinale’ means that Dandelion used to be consider an official remedy for disorders. European immigrants carried Dandelion seeds to the New World because they could not imagine doing ‘life’ without this powerful plant.
Be careful though where you harvest it, for it’s taproot will draw up whatever toxins have been sprayed in it’s vicinity. Follow basic wild crafting guidelines. As for sustainability you can not over harvest this plant for it is bent on taking over your yard and has many ingenious ways to survive and thrive.
Dandelions are edible year round but they are the choicest in the early Spring. Consuming them is a wise way to do internal Spring Cleaning so I challenged myself to eat Dandelion every day in a plethora of wildly delicious recipes. I’ve taken pictures of the process from field to fork and hyperlink to the recipes in my Wild Blessings cooking section. This has been a delightful wild venture and I can feel the difference.
I will write about my Taraxicum adventures and culinary exploits from the ROOTS up. The whole plant is edible and medicinal. “The Dandelion tap root can drill to a depth of 15 feet”!
Fall Dandelion roots are high in inulin and are particularly healthful for diabetics as they help to stabilize blood sugar, Spring roots stimulate bile production with their high concentration of taraxican. Either way they are infamous as a liver cleanser and thus help to clear up skin issues. The roots are tasty roasted and ground into an extremely nutritious coffee and thus used in anyway coffee would be used or roasted / boiled as a root vegetable. Being a perennial plant Dandelion roots just get bigger with the passing of time. Unless you remove it completely, it will regenerate. If you break off more pieces than you unearth, the Dandelion wins. “what’s a Dandelion digger for?” a Dandelion asked. “It’s a human invention to help us reproduce.” another Dandelion replied. (Green Deane)
My favorite place to harvest wild roots is at an organic farm where the soil is already pliable and the weeds are not welcome by the farmers.
Dandelion root coffee can be made to fit your preferences, just use a Starbucks menu as an idea booster. Sometimes I love it with cinnamon and raw milk, other days I love it plain and black, while often the chocolate drive urges me to use cocoa powder. It is easy to do. Instructions for digging, cleaning, roasting and grinding are here.
A similar recipe to iced Dandelion root coffee can be found here.
I have COMPLETELY out done myself. This is by far the most nutritious and delicious cold drink that I have ever concocted! Dandelion Root Coffee with a touch of vanilla and cocoa powder melted in. Coconut Milk to take the edge off and add even more nutrition and then sweetened with a tonic Austin Button made the other day with freshly dug Yellowdock root and molasses. Refrigerated till iced cold! Who needs Red Bull! Seriously! I am consuming the whole bottle myself.
One can pack a boat load of wild nutrition into an energy ball. Main ingredients are almonds, dates, oats, coconut oil, kelp (for salt) and then whatever wild thing strikes your fancy: Plantain seeds, Lambsquarter seeds, Amaranth seeds… and in this case roasted Dandelion roots (left over from a decoction) and Dandelion blossoms.
This paleo dessert was one of my best wild happenings all month. I followed a recipe for a chocolate mousse and added the richness of a strong Dandelion root decoction to give it a coffee flavor that is happy on the liver. Amazing.
This Dandelion root and leaf soup I simmered up last Summer. The broth was simply the ‘potliquor’ from decocting the roots and simmering the leaves (later in the process). To this I added miso and Parmesan cheese and Wild Seed Zest seasoning. I added a left over brown rice lasagna noodle from dinner the night before. The roots were removed and stir fried for a spell in roasted sesame oil and soy sauce then tossed back into the soup pan. The resulting bowl of SUPER nutrition was delicious. My liver had not been this happy in a long time.
Dandelion CROWNS are simply a must try! So crunchy and celery-like but not quite. They are delicious marinated or pickled or boiled as a side dish, they are surprisingly sweet and delectable. Just be sure to wash well between the stems.
This Thai dish was made spectacular with the addition of Dandelion crowns. Of all the veggies in this dish, the crowns held the sauce the best and added a fabulous wildness to everything. Of course a handful of Ramps in any recipe adds to a successful recipe. Unfortunately, I really didn’t follow a recipe for this masterpiece, just threw in a little of this and a little of that…but the cast of characters was: coconut milk, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, an assortment of veggies and wild goodies and just tasted a bunch till it was Thai-ish. Good look!
Wild roots are best harvested in the first year of biennials or in the Spring of said biennials before the energy shoots up into the flower stalk. Chop to desired size, toss with olive oil and seasonings of choice and roast till al dente. I added Dandelion crowns to the mix.
The Dandelion LEAF looks like lions teeth: Dent e Lion. They are at their best when they have just emerged in early Spring. There are many species of Taraxicum and the leaves vary in their toothiness but all Dandelion plants will have these traits in common: The blossoms grow individually on hollow flower stalks (other look-a-likes have several blossoms to one stalk), and they are all hairless. Fortunately, there are no look-a-likes to the Dandelion that are toxic but not all are palatable.
Now that Spring wild greens are abundant NO MORE PURCHASES of spinach or kale or lettuce…. Today’s breakfast, egg in a hole (gf bread), Dandelion greens sauteed and a dab of Beauty Berry jelly on the grilled bread circle and my daily mug of Dandelion root coffee. Dandelion leaves can be boiled in a soup, battered and baked for chips, chopped small into salads for their ‘liver’ factor, pureed in a food processor as wild hummus or a wild pesto and used as spinach in any recipe… Thankful.
The best time to eat the STEM is before the flowers bloom…makes sense because that’s where the energy is. They can be lightly boiled and eaten as ‘green beans’ with butter and seasonings. Here I marinated in lemon juice and egg, then tossed into corn meal and spices and fried in coconut oil. I mean really….good!
Dandelion BUDS, tightly bound, are a true delicacy. I boiled them for a few minutes in already boiling salted water and then coated them with an amazing bacon Ramp balsamic dressing with some feta and almond slices. A truly delightful and nutritious lunch. Be sure to gather the buds that are flowers to be and not the ones that are seeds to be. They look similar but one will have a nice chew factor and the other will taste like cotton. Here is a fabulous recipe for marinated Dandelion buds.
Each Dandelion BLOSSOM is a composite of about 150 flowers, each flower develops its own seed to be blown to the four winds…and start again. God makes sure that we have a bountiful supply of these golden blossoms because He knows what a gift they are! Pick blossoms that have not been pollinated and pick them RIGHT before cooking with them as they will close up and even go to seed if left for a bit on your counter or even in the refrigerator.
Dandelion blossoms make excellent fritters, they can be made to be savory or sweet depending on your taste demands. They can also be debracted and the flowers used to add nutrition and color to salads, pancakes, muffins, cookies, honeys, drinks, jellies, gummy candies, jello…
Wild syrups are so handy to have around as a base for jello or jellies or to pour on pancakes, as a base for a wild soda or to be an unusual sweetener for any number of fun reasons. I made a fabulous Dandelion Jelly that I then used for Stuffed French Toast.
This past month I have been in the soda making, wine making, jelly making, vinegar making DANDELION business. I’m experimenting with various healthy soda options: whey and ginger (ala Nourishing Traditions), water kefir grains (thanks to Marc N. Williams, lacto-fermented ginger root and dandelion root soda starter…
I attended Marc Williams wild foods fermentation class recently…this lost art is how our ancestors maximized shelf life and nutrition for eons. Fermenting foods encourages good flora to proliferate and rebuild our gut walls which is of extreme importance for digestion. It turns sodas into tonics that are not only nutrition but delicious and promotes energy and healing. Motivated by Marc’s talk I have been fermenting a lot. Dandelion wine and Dandelion soda are just two of my projects.
The Dandelion Wine recipe is Diana Houck’s grandmother’s recipe from way back when. On the recipe card she reports, “a cup a day of this wine will cure what ails ya but don’t hit it too heavy!”
Below is my wild soda line up. The Dandelion wine won’t be ready till the Winter solstice but these sodas are ready in a few days. They are healing tonics that will help gut flora, digestion and have a plus 10 happiness factor 🙂 I am also using wild roots as the soda culture starter, feeding them daily with sugar and more roots, currently I am using Burdock root and Dandelion roots but plan on using Sassafras roots next. The Winter roots have the bacteria lacto baccili in them to help them survive the Winter and that is the perfect bacteria to use for fermenting and getting that good flora.
Every day I prepare and drink a tonic which I call Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic. This month my vinegar has been Dandelion infused (the whole plant). The vinegar extracts the vitamins and minerals from the Dandelion and makes it more viable for my use. To this I add a plethora of other healing supplements that help to restore my bodies pH and mineral levels. Here is a video on how to make this tonic. https://wildblessings.com/resources/ To infuse a plant in vinegar simply cover the macerated plant material with organic unsulphured apple cider vinegar and stir daily. Cap with a plastic lid as vinegar and metal do not like each other.
We have explored the Dandelion roots, crowns, stems, buds, flowers…so what about the SEEDS? No, I do not have recipes for them…. and just common sense would dictate that they are more artistic and purposeful than they are edible. But there are some interesting folklore attached to these fluffy globes.
A common belief is that the number of seeds left after blowing on the globe is the time, this gave rise to the term Dandelion clock for the seed head. The Dandelion flower opens an hour after sunrise and closes at dusk giving rise to the belief that it is a ‘Shepherd’s clock’.
It is said that “the Dandelion is an excellent barometer, one of the commonest and most reliable. It is when the blooms have seeded and are in the fluffy, feathery conditions that its weather prophet facilities come to the fore. In fine weather the ball extends to the full, but when rain approaches, it shuts like an umbrella. If the weather is inclined to be showery it keeps shut all the time, only opening when the danger from the wet is past.”
And there are also claims that one can place their wishes in a Taraxicum seed head and blow them to the winds to find their fruition and birth. ‘
I personally can not pass a seed head by without ‘spreading the love’. Next time you blow on a Dandelion ball…watch the wind pick up these tiny seed parachutes to take them to their new homes far away.
Pale little Dandelion,
In her white shroud,
Heareth the angel-breeze
Call from the cloud;
Tiny plumes fluttering
Make no delay;
Little winged Dandelion
Helen Barron Bostwick 
There are so many more things to do with Dandelions. I’ve just scratched the surface. I’d like to make Dandelion gummy bears, Dandelion pancakes, Dandelion dye…
Next time I take the girls to a Dandelion dotted field I hope to make Dandelion crowns for our heads, and garlands for our necks.
It’s just possible that this lowly plant is why I am married to my wonderful husband. Jason’s mom was one of ten born to a Greek family in Lowell Mass during the depression. Athena, the mother, would harvest Dandelion greens every day at the park across the street from their one room apartment. She boiled them in their own broth and served Dandelion soup for most meals along with a slice of bread and if they were lucky a dab of butter. Athena lived to be almost 100 and most of her 10 children are still alive, Georgia, my mother in law, attributes their longevity to this tenacious plant.
The next time you see this green & gold gift…remember to celebrate the Dandelions.
“They all wait for You to give them their food in due season.
You give to them, they gather it up;
You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.
You send forth Your Spirit and they are created and …
You renew the face of the ground.”