Dandelions - Weed, Food, or Child's Bouquet?
Sitting on the front porch, trying to enjoy an absolutely gorgeous day, and all I see is a yard full of little yellow flowers. You probably know them…. they’re called dandelions, and it seems that the more you pull or dig up, the faster they multiply. I remember Mother, who wanted the perfect lawn, spending hours digging and pulling trying to get them out, without leaving a hole a foot deep.
My Grandmother on the other hand, used them to make several of her home remedies. She tried, unsuccessfully, to explain to Mother how useful they were. Mother never listened that they might actually be beneficial… she was too focused on killing them.
Dandelions have been around a long time… there are reports of them being brought to Canada by the French in the 1700’s. The Dutch and German brought dandelion roots and seeds in their bags when they immigrated to Pennsylvania in the 1850’s.
The plants are packed with significant amounts of vitamins and minerals… vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, and K, folic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and zinc, as well as fiber and protein.
They’re also safe to eat… as long as they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers.
Consider eating them instead of killing them:
The leaves have the most nutrients and are the easiest for a dandelion “newbie” to use. You eat them the same way you eat lettuce, spinach, kale or any other type of greens. The smallest leaves have the most flavor. Once the flowers open, the leaves turn bitter. Just wash them good to get the dirt and bugs out, and toss them in a salad.
You can saute them in a pan with olive oil, minced garlic and chopped onions. Once they’re “wilted”, add some broth, enough to about 1/2 inch deep, cover and steam them until they’re tender and most of the liquid has cooked out. Add salt, pepper, and a splash of vinegar and you have a side dish.
The leaves also make a good tea. Put 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped leaves in a cup of hot water… steep for about 10 minutes, strain, add a little honey and drink up. Throw in a couple of mint leaves and you’ve got a little different flavor.
THE ROOTS –
The roots of the dandelion, like the leaves, are loaded with nutrients and make a good diuretic. The easiest way to use the roots is to drink it as a substitute for coffee. If you want something with more nutrition and less caffeine than coffee, give this a try.
The spring roots contain the most nutrients. After washing to get the dirt out, chop the roots into small chunks or slice them real thin, spread them out on a cookie sheet until they’re about 1/2 inch deep. Roast in a preheated oven about 250 degrees for 2 hours. Stir the roots often so that they are all roasted about the same.
Once the roots have cooled, use a blender or food processor until they’re about the same consistently as coffee grounds. Store in an airtight container.
When you’re ready for a cup, steep 1 tablespoon of the root grounds in a cup of hot water for 7-10 minutes.
THE FLOWERS –
The flowers can be used to make Dandelion Jelly and although I’ve never made it, I understand that it’s really good. This recipe makes about 4 cups and doesn’t have to be processed the same as normal jelly recipes:
4 cups water
4 cups flowers only (no leaves, stem, or flower base)
1/2 package SURE-JELL
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1. Bring water and flowers to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain into a measuring cup, pressing solids. Discard flowers. (You should have 3 cups of liquid; add water if necessary.)
2. Combine SURE-Jell and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Bring dandelion liquid and remaining 4 cups sugar to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Add the pectin mixture, stirring constantly to dissolve pectin and sugar. Add lemon juice, and boil for 1 minute. Spoon the foam off the top. Let cool slightly.
3. Pour mixture into an airtight container. Cover with a lid. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
Have you ever made or eaten dandelion jelly?