- Food and Cooking
Harvesting and Eating Dandelions
They grow everywhere or so it seems. You do not have to tend them, water them or feed them. All you need to do is appreciate them and harvest them, then enjoy them as wine, tea, in a salad or deep fried as fritters.
What I am I going on about, well dandelions, the most misunderstood and under-appreciated “weed’ in the world, well that may be a bit over the top, but you get my drift.
This is urban food foraging at its most basic. You may not even have to leave your own property to gather this most versatile plant. If you are a home owner and have a lawn, the odds are good you have a handy supply of dandelions.
Now you may have spent hours, each summer, in vain attempts to make the dandelion go away, but somehow, no matter what you do it keeps coming back.
Now you can give up the struggle and start reaping the rewards that nature has been putting in front of you for all those years and rather than doing battle, go and get some supper.
Dandelion greens are one of the season’s first edible arrivals and the ragged leaves add a distinctive appearance to the meal. They are best picked when young. Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A in the form of antioxidant carotenoid and vitamin C.
It is not necessary to be a gardener to take advantage of this useful plant. All you need is a lawn that has not been sprayed with poison in an attempt to control the weeds and it is quite likely that you will have dandelions in sufficient supply.
You can harvest the root, the flower and the green, so the whole plant, pretty much, is useful. The root can be ground and used as a coffee substitute, something like chicory, in case you are looking for something a little different in the morning.
You may find it faster to collect the dandelions if you work with at least one other person that is if you are planning to harvest the whole plant.
Have one person cut the flower and another dug out the root using a dandelion weeding tool. The tools often destroy the flowers.
Now, because dandelions are so plentiful in many lawns you can do an early harvest and take the young leaves and leave the root in the ground to grow back and then come back for the flower and root.
Or you can harvest the whole plant when young making sure to leave a few growing so that you can harvest the flowers if you want them. There are options which makes this even more fun.
So first step is to decide what you are going to use the dandelion for, salads, coffee, wine fritters and so on and then collect the plant accordingly.
If you do not have a lawn you may want to visit your neighbours and ask them if you can harvest their dandelions. Do this in early spring before the dandelion is bloom.
Tell them what you want the dandelion for and that you will remove all the dandelions from their front lawn. Unless you really love dandelion coffee or wine, there is a limit to how many plants you will need to harvest.
Friends and family many be happy to have your drop by and visit while weeding their lawn.
It is possible that people will look at you funny and whisper behind your back but hey you are getting some great exercise outdoors, providing food for the family, that costs nothing but your labour, and maybe encouraging others to step forward and stop poisoning the community and eat the weeds.
- Dandelion: Loved and Hated
Tidbits and tips for growing and using dandelions.
- winemaking: dandelion wines
Two recipes for making wine from the common dandelion flower.