Before you run off into someones yard for a light snack, remember that many people use pesticides on their laws to kill these ever growing weeds. If you happen to be one of those people that lets your dog pee on my lawn...eat up!
Dandelions are super foods and they’re rich in beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, B vitamins, and protein. All parts of the plant are edible but you may wish to eat them when the plant is younger as they are less bitter. They can be eaten raw or you can cook them, whichever you prefer.
Dandelion Flowers - Best time to harvest is mid-spring when they are in full bloom. Cut off the green base and they aren't bitter. You can eat the flower in a salad, steamed with other vegetables, fry them or put them in baked products.
Dandelion Greens - eat them fresh in a salad, sautee, steam or boil them and add other vegetables or spices as you desire. You may also use them to make tea.
Dandelion Root - best harvested in the late fall through early spring, when the plant is dormant because the levels of insoluble fiber are higher and fructose levels are lower. Medicinal properties lie in the sap so don't wash it away. You may use them right away or dry them for long term storage.
To extract the medicinal compounds for the roots, they must be decocted or tinctured. To make a tincture, place dandelion root in a jar and cover with 80 proof (40%) vodka. Cover tightly and allow to steep 4-6 weeks, shaking daily. Strain out plant material and store in a dark glass bottle. Label and date.
To make a decoction, place one ounce of dried roots or two ounces fresh roots (by weight) in a pan with one pint of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and compost the spent roots. Root decoctions can be used to make simple healing teas. You can also chop, dry and roast them to make a coffee substitute.
Other ways to utilize the root is to add it to soup stock, or steam it with other vegetables.
Some of the health benefits of Dandelion…
- Antiviral – the roots possess strong antiviral properties
- Blood Sugar – may help stabilize blood sugar levels
- Digestion – the root acts as an appetite stimulant, helps promote digestion and gastrointestinal health, encourages the growth of healthy bacteria
- Gallbladder -cleansing and healing to the gallbladder.
- Heart – may help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL)
- Kidneys – the leaves support kidney function and act as a diuretic
- Liver – the roots promote liver detoxification
- Menstruation/PMS – alleviates the bloating associated with PMS