Dandelion: More than a Weed

The dandelion (Taraxacum officiale) has a bad reputation for being a nuisance and is often considered an undesirable plant in lawns. But, this common weed is edible, medicinal, and a valuable source of food for insects in the early spring.

Dandelions are truly one of my favorite plants and I get so excited when I see them starting to come up each year. I love our dandelion packed yard and I cringe when I see people mowing down or spraying big patches of dandelions. They are so useful! All parts of the plant can be utilized in making food and medicine.

Dandelion leaves are a delicious bitter green that are delicious in salads, soups, pizzas, pastas, stir fries, and more. They can also be used in teas and salves for medicinal purposes.

The roots of this plant are also edible and medicinal. They are best collected between June and August when they are the most bitter. Cut them in half before drying to speed the process. The leaves can be collected anytime. The roots also can be used to make tea. They are often roasted and then simmered to make a strong decoction that tastes a lot like coffee (but doesn’t have the same effect). I also enjoy adding fresh, chopped root to stir fries and soups.


The blossoms are my favorite part of the plant to use in the spring as they are plentiful and very cheery. They make lovely infused syrups and jellies. I also like using them in a unique veggie patty. Each year when the dandelions are in bloom, I harvest tons of flowers for different projects. This spring, I made dandelion blossom wine, fermented dandelion blossom relish, dandelion blossom kombucha, and dandelion blossom syrup.  I infused witch hazel extract with dandelions blossoms and other spring herbs for a lovely soothing, facial toner.

I have really enjoyed adding dandelion root and leaf to many different tea blends this season, including a wonderful kidney tonic tea.

Below are a few of the recipes I just mentioned:

 

Fermented Dandelion Blossom Relish

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups dandelion blossoms, packed
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly ground coriander
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 Tbsp salt (use a salt without additives like iodine, or anti-caking agents, like calcium silicate)

Equipment: 

  • 1 wide mouth pint jar with lid
  • 1 fermentation weight – we like these ones from Tamarack Stoneware. They’re very well made, pretty, and they work like a charm.

 

Directions:

Add the dandelion blossoms, garlic, and spices to a large bowl. Mix everything together roughly with your hands, shredding and smushing the dandelion blossoms.

Add salt and water and continue to scrunch and mush everything together with your hands until the blossoms are all broken up and the mixture is well blended.

Pack the blossom blend and brine into a quart jar (you may have a little brine left over). Push the solids down firmly so everything is well covered by brine. Place your fermentation weight on top to keep everything submerged (if things aren’t covered in brine they will get moldy). Cover jar with lid, but do not tighten down more than a half turn. You want the gases to be able to escape or it may bubble over (not that I would know…).

Set jar on a warm shelf out of direct sunlight and check it periodically. Give it a taste every so often to check how much it has fermented and once it has reached your desired level of tanginess, store it in the refrigerator to slow further fermentation. I let mine ferment for a month, but your taste might be a little bit different, so give it a taste sooner than that.

Enjoy this tasty fermented relish on veggie hot dogs, tempeh burgers, or with grilled pita. It’s a tangy, garlicky condiment that is as unique as it is delicious.

 

Dandelion Wine

I made an adapted version of this dandelion wine recipe that was published in Mother Earth News in 1978. I used honey instead of sugar and added grapefruit. This season was my first go at dandelion wine so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. This beverage takes about 2-3 weeks to ferment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hungry for more ways to enjoy this plant? Below are a lot more fantastic dandelion recipes for you to try this season:

Breakfast:

Dinner – Main Dishes & Sides:

Dressings & Condiments:

Dandelion Kombucha

Beverages:

Desserts:

 

In addition to being edible, dandelion is also has a variety of medicinal applications. It can be taken internally or used externally to treat many different conditions. It has been used traditionally to help treat liver & kidney problems, UTI’s, skin eruptions, eczema, anemia, and more. Dandelion tea can be drunk to help ease stomach aches. It is a nutritious herb that can be helpful for anemia. This plant helps to purify the blood. Dandelion also aids the heart and can decrease blood pressure. Dandelion leaf tea is a diuretic that can be helpful for fluid retention, weight loss, and cystitis.

Dandelion is great for your skin too! It is healing, soothing, and helps reduce inflammation. This makes it a  wonderful addition to salves, lip balms, and facial toners.

Dandelion, Violet & Cleaver Facial Toner

This facial toner is simple to make and is beneficial for all skin types. Witch hazel extract is produced from the leaves and bark of the Witch Hazel shrub  and is naturally astringent and anti-microbial. It helps to reduce bags and puffiness around the eyes. It can also shrink pores and help to heal blemishes. Infusing witch hazel extract with these skin soothing, spring herbs makes it a perfect cleansing, facial toner that can also be used to relieve skin irritations.

Ingredients:

Directions: 

Add herbs to a glass jar with a lid. You will want to fill the jar roughly 3/4 full (you want enough room for at least 1-2 inches of witch hazel on top of the herbs.) Don’t pack the herbs down in the jar too tightly as you want everything to be evenly submerged in liquid.

Pour the witch hazel extract over the herbs and put the lid on your jar. Place in a cool, dark place and let infuse for 2-4 weeks. Shake your jar daily (if you remember). The witch hazel will start to take on the color and scent of the herbs.

When your concoction has finished infusing, strain out the herbs with a cheese cloth. Store in a clean bottle or jar (be sure to label your jar!).

Pour a few drops of aloe vera gel into a 4 oz spray bottle, fill to the top with your infused witch hazel. Shake well and spritz on your face to tone and cleanse skin.
Below are some more delightful dandelion body care recipes to enjoy:

13310558_1729956513940045_5088574184601419208_nAs you can see, there’s no need to spray or mow your dandelions this year. Instead, you’ll surely have lots of ways you’ll want to use this cheery little plant for food, medicine, and skincare.
Do you have any favorite dandelion recipes? Let us know!
Other fun DIY dandelions ideas:

 

 

 

 

Resources:

A Modern Herbal: Volume I. M. Grieve. 249-254.

The Way of Herbs. Michael Tierra. 127-128.

The Herbal Handbook: A User’s Guide to Medical Herbalism. David Hoffman. 69-70.

Back to Eden. Jethro Kloss. 123-124.

“Dandelion: The Dandiest Weed of All.” Herbal Adcademy. https://theherbalacademy.com/dandelion-the-dandiest-weed-of-all/

“A Family Herb: Dandelion.” Herbal Academy. March 9, 2016. https://theherbalacademy.com/a-family-herb-dandelion/

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7 thoughts on “Dandelion: More than a Weed

  1. Amber Pixie June 3, 2016 / 4:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing my wine recipe on your lovely dandelion round-up post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kristine June 20, 2016 / 2:49 am

      Thank you! And thanks for posting the great recipe!

      Like

  2. Andrea Wyckoff August 5, 2016 / 2:33 am

    This is such a wonderfully informative post!

    Thanks so much for linking up to my Dandelion & Lemon Cupcakes.

    Cheers to dandelions, one of my most favorite flowers!! ♥

    Like

    • Kristine August 5, 2016 / 4:49 am

      Thanks Andrea! Glad you enjoyed the post and it’s always nice to find a fellow dandelion lover. I love your idea to use them in cupcakes! It was a pleasure to stumble upon your blog. I’m loving all of your creative wild food recipes.

      Happy foraging and cooking!

      Like

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