You don’t have to look far, dandelions are everywhere. Their bright yellow flower heads shine out from grass, hedges and they even pop up through paths.
People all over Europe have eaten dandelions for centuries. Now, they are widely considered a weed that ruins a well preened lawn, but dandelions are in fact a delicious and healthy green that we should all be eating more of.
Dandelions are one of the earliest spring flowers to grow. All parts of a dandelion plant are edible – flowers, leaves, stem and roots.
Health benefits of Dandelion
Dandelion is a cleansing plant, in that it helps the liver to metabolise fat. It has a diuretic action that helps to rid the kidneys of impurities. Dandelions are also a good source of antioxidants, vitamins A and C, plus a host of minerals such as potassium and zinc.
Are dandelions a weed? No, they are a super-food!
Identifying Dandelion plants
Dandelions have long leaves with grooves starting from the edge. Lots of leaves grow from the centre to form a rosette.
The flowers are bright yellow with lots of small, long petals that give it a fluffy, or lion’s mane, appearance. Dandelions have a tap root, which is a single main root that grows straight down into the soil.
How to eat Dandelion
Dandelion roots have a bitter flavour which lends itself to brewing beverages, such as a caffeine free coffee alternative. They can be eaten either cooked or raw and added as a vegetable ingredient in a variety of dishes, but try a little first in case you do not enjoy the bitter taste.
Dandelion leave are excellent in salads, sautéed with butter, added to omelettes or as part of a sandwich filling. The young leaves have a milder flavour than the large ones. Cooking them also makes the leaves taste milder.
The leaves can be dried and made into tea.
Wine can be made from dandelion flowers. They are also delicious cooked in a stir fry or in a batter.
Considerations when Foraging for Dandelions
When foraging, do not pick dandelion anywhere that might have been sprayed with chemicals and avoid picking in areas where dogs might have had a wee.
Pick dandelions from places that are away from roads to avoid pollution from motors. A grass field, or you own garden is usually a good place to start. Wash dandelions before eating.
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