Dandelion grows wild in backyards and open land around many parts of the world and offers us free food that is nutritious and delicious and sustainable. All of the plant parts can be used for food and medicine. The leaves are edible and a great springtime bitter green to add to salads, add to stir frys, sauté as a pizza topping, and addition to juice. The flowers can be made into a tea. Gather a handful and place into a cup. Fill to the top with boiling water and let them steep for about 10 minutes. Strain off the flower tops and enjoy this natural potassium-rich diuretic tea. As a Medicinal Herbalist we use the root to improve Liver health and as a digestive tonic. A popular tea I make is Calendula Morning Tea with Dandelion root, Calendula Flowers and Peppermint. Especially if you tend to have morning depression, combining a root herb with a mint uplifts your energy making it a great tea to start the day. This blend also stimulates the digestion and can ease cranky constipation. Even the milky substance in the stem can be applied to the skin to reduce warts. Wow medicine.
My dandelion stories
When I learned that dandelions made their way to North America from my Pilgrim Ancestors on the Mayflower, I sensed a circle of completion as well as a new beginning of honoring myself as an Herbalist. Dandelion was one of the plants brought to the new world by early settlers because it grows easily and the whole plant can be used for food or medicine.
Dandelion became naturalized and embedded in most communities even growing through the cracks in city sidewalk. What a strong impulse dandelion has to survive and live. I often begin my edible and medicinal weed walks with dandelion because it is one of the most recognizable weeds in north America. Large companies were made in an attempt to eradicate this nutritious plant.
The summer of my tenth year, my family moved from Ohio back to New England following a promotion for my Father’s work. That summer my sisters and I uprooted more than seven hundred dandelion plants that previously spotted the front and back yard of our new home in Paxton Massachusetts. In an effort to be frugal, my father decided to pay his three young daughters to dig the dandelions instead of killing them with Turf Builder Plus yard treatment. My father paid my 2 sisters and I a penny a piece to rid the lawn of these bright yellow flowers that dotted the sea of green grass. We separated them out in piles of 10 scattered around the yard. He could not believe how many we had dug up…but he still paid us the $7.00.
My Gram, Vera Etta Twitchel Kingsbury lived in Keene N.H. where I was born. As I child I played in the flower gardens and woods at her home. When I was a young adult and told her that I was working with herbs and creating an herb business, she offered her love and support by telling me a story about her Aunts gathering dandelions and wrapping pieces of the root in bread for liver pills in the spring.
Gram loved the dandelion greens for supper. I recently asked my Father more about that and he said “My mother would go out in the spring just when they were popping up. She had her own way of cutting them from the ground and processing them like spinach. I’d like a little vinegar on them. Boy they were bitter. My mother said Early in the spring they are not as bitter. We used to use those right from the front yard. She’d leave the root in the ground because she wanted more. She would just cut the tops and hopefully it would grow a second crop for her.” Gram lived to a ripe age of 94. Could foraging wild edibles be the next longevity craze?
Grandma Elsie Maxwell Barker said as a child she used to gather pails of the fresh greens and sell them for a nickel. Later when she was married and had 4 daughters, she gathered the yearly dandelion greens from the same field where she ate the dandelion greens as a child. My mother, Kathryn Louise Barker Kingsbury remembers going into that field where generations of women from her family gathered the dandelion greens. She says,“We’d clean the dirt off in a bucket of water, then cut off the root, and wash them in a sieve. Then my mother would boil them in water. We ate them with butter. She said, “I didn’t like taste very much, it as bitter”. They were just there in the beginning of the year, not all the time. We liked the yellow flowers too. We’d put the flowers in a little black vase and have them on a corner table.
What would our world be like if everyone ate their dandelions instead of killing them?
Dandelion greens are the most versatile part of the plant for cooking. Even though some people believe they can only be gathered and used in cooking before they flower, I enjoy them as long as they are growing. Simply gather, wash, and chop into small bits to add flavor to sandwich spreads such as hummus and tuna fish. Dandelion leaves fresh or dried add a wild flavor to a baked potato or summer potato salad. Quiche, pizza dough, meat balls, and lasagna are brought to life with chopped bits of this versatile green. Use your imagination. The possibilities are endless.
Black bean soup topped with dandelion petals. Dandelion flower biscuits.
Dandelion flower biscuits. Dandelion Cocktail.
Dandelion pesto: Blend in a food processor or blender until smooth: 1 cup of fresh dandelion greens, 1 cup of fresh parsley, and 1 cup of fresh Oregano leaves, 1/2 c. olive oil, 1/2 c. pine nuts or green pumpkin seeds, 3 cloves fresh chopped garlic, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional). Yummy on bread or tossed with your favorite pasta.
Dandelion Vinegar: A simple method is to chop fresh clean dandelion greens straight into a 3/4 full bottle of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. Let sit for a few weeks. Add 1-2 tsp. to warm water before a meal to reduce digestive upset and restore natural digestive ph.
Dandelion Flower Biscuits/aka Dandy Dog Biscuits: Blend together 1 3/4 c. gluten-free flour , 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt. Mix in 2 Tbls. butter with your hands until the dough is crumbly. Blend in 1/4 c. dandelion petals (or greens for more flavor) and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Add 3/4 c. milk and 2 Tbls. agave nectar. Stir until it holds together well. Form into a ball then place on a rolling surface ( I like the Tupperware rollup mat) dusted with corn flour. Roll to about 1/4″ thick with a rolling pin. Cut shapes with a glass or biscuit cutter. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes. Brush with olive oil for the last-minute. Enjoy. Sasha, my Siberian husky loves them as a treat.
Dandelion cocktail: Juice a handful of Dandelion greens, 3 celery stalks, and 6 Carrots. Make variations with the fresh fruits and vegetables that you have on hand. Add an apple for more sweetness and Ginger root to boost energy. Support your local Farmer’s market and exchange with neighbors.
Dandelion Veggie Burgers: Mix together in order listed 1/4 c. spelt flour, 1/4 cup corn flour, 1/4 cup cooked rice, 2 tbls. flax seeds ground, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, 1/2 c. chopped and dried dandelion greens, 1/4 c. chopped sweet onion, 1/4 c. milk. Form into patties and fry in oil until golden brown. You can add tuna or salmon for extra protein.
View my first YouTube video: Video 1: Dr. Linda Digs Dandelions. Kind of funny to watch it now, but the information is valid. Time to get over feeling embarrassed.
The Spiritual Properties of Dandelion is that is support our Earth Connection. Nourishing the first chakra located at the base of the spine, helps us restore a sense of belonging and connection as Earth Children in the Light. Regular use of Dandelion can help to ease our emotional and mental frustrations as we learn and grow. I blend Dandelion root tincture with peony flower essence, and garnet gem elixir for Chakra #1 Elixir.
Visit SpiritHerbs.com to learn more about Chakra Tea Elixirs.
Visit IdahoHerbs.com to learn more about Calendula Morning Tea.
What is your Dandelion story?