10 Things You Can Do with Dandelions (Part 1)

 Golden Embrace

When you think of dandelions, does it evoke nostalgic childhood memories? Maybe it conjures thoughts of what a nuisance it can be for a 'well-maintained' lawn?

I don't know about you, but I happen to love when yards are blanketed with a thick sea of sunny  clusters, especially mine. However, dandelions can be viewed differently depending on who is asked. Some might see these ubiquitous yellow flowers as a pesky weed instead of a helpful herb. Truth be told, I'm new to the wonders of what a curious cook can do with a freshly harvested batch of wild weeds. And, like any recent discovery, I've spent too much time scouring the www for ideas on what to do with the plentiful bounty awaiting us.

I had no clue that so many different things could be done with dandelions. It was rather difficult to trim down my extensive list for this post. You'll be pleased to know that nothing in this mash-up is too complicated or time consuming.  I'm hoping that it will be a useful starting point for anyone who might be interested in putting these prevalent plants to good use.

Health Benefits of The Dandelion

  • Diuretic
  • Detoxifier
  • Dandelion is used for treatment of:
  • constipation
  • acne
  • eczema
  • psoriasis
  • arthritis
  • edema (swollen ankles)
  • osteoarthritis
  • gout
  • gallstones
  • high blood pressure
  • digestion problems

!WARNING! Dandelions should only be harvested from areas that you know haven't been contaminated by pesticides or fertilizers, since digesting those substances can be toxic or lethal! Gathering dandelions from busy roadsides is also not a good idea due to the fear of contamination, so it's better to avoid them altogether. The best place to harvest would be your own yard or that of a friend. 

1. Dandelion Green Salad
It's ideal to use tender young leaves for salads, but they can really be eaten at any time. However, the mature leaves will be a little more bitter. These would be a great addition to a salad with other leafy greens to add more variety.

2. Dandelion Tea

Simply simmer  1/2 ounce of dandelion root in 1 1/2 pints of water until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain. This will yield (2) ½ cup servings. This same recipe can also be used with the blossoms as well if you want something lighter.
3. Dandelion Oil & Dandelion Vinegar

Oil: Harvest a jar full of freshly picked flower heads and cover with almond, grapeseed or olive oil. Use a skewer or chopstick to eliminate the air bubbles. Cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth, coffee filter or another type of breathable lid. Put in a warm, sunny place to steep. In about 4 weeks (2 weeks minimum), the dandelion essence will have absorbed into the oil that will be a remedy for joint and muscle pain. This is said to also work for various skin problems as well.

For this tonic you can use both flowers and leaves. Once gathered, chop leaves and strip the stems from the flowers if still intact. Place in a jar of your choosing and cover with a bottle of cider vinegar (we use Bragg's). In 4 weeks, you will have a pretty mild vinegar to use in salads, for cooking, or as a tonic.

4. Dandelion Honey
  • 4 cups dandelion petals
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 (1/4-inch) thick lemon slices
  • ½ vanilla bean, split in half
  • 2-1/8 cups granulated white sugar
Select only those flower in full bloom during mid-day when the sun is brightest. Remove petals from the green bottoms by just pulling them apart, measure the petals only.

Place petals in heavy sauce pan along with water, lemon slices, and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 6 hours.

Strain the dandelion tea through cheesecloth and dispose of the organic matter. Place in a heavy saucepan and bring to a low boil. Gradually add sugar while stirring until dissolved. Lower heat and let simmer to desired consistency (may take up to 4 hours). Can be used in the same way as regular honey.

5. Dandelion Tincture
Collect as much dandelion root as you'd like, approximately 1 or 2 cups. Thoroughly clean the roots and thinly slice. Once you have selected a jar that your harvest will fit in, cover with 100 proof vodka. Set the jar in a cool, dark place. Within 8 weeks you will have a tincture that can be taken daily with water as a health tonic.

I know that what may be a beneficial weed to me is another man's nemesis, but there's not much we can do about them stubborn folks (sorry if that's you). However, maybe someone who is curious as to whether or not dandelions are edible or have a medicinal use will take away a recipe or two from this list. They are low on calories and provide a good source of Vitamins A, C and E, and contain healthy amounts of Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Folate, Dietary Fiber and Potassium. 
  If you noticed, this post was entitled, "10 Things You Can Do With Dandelions", but there are only 5 recipes listed! What gives?!? Well, you're just going to have to wait until Friday for the rest of them. Update: Part 2 has been posted, you can visit the rest of this post by clicking here: http://www.wayfaringwanderer.com/2010/04/10-things-you-can-do-with-dandelions_29.html

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    1. wow I never knew that! My yards clean folks come on over an pick em'

    2. I enjoyed your post. I will be checking back for Part II..I read somewhere of dandelion wine. :)

      ~Morri aka gypsy-heart

    3. thanks for that disclaimer. I think some people don't realize this. What makes dandelions so great is that they pull all kinds of minerals and goodies from the soil. including heavy metals etc.. Unfortunately, our yard is contaminated with lead, we live in an older urban neighborhood, and we can't eat our dandelions.

    4. How interesting! I'm going to have to try some of these dandelion recipes. Who knew you could do so many things with dandelions?! My father-in-law loves boiled dandelion greens (called "horta" in greek) with a bit of lemon and olive oil. Yum! By the way, thanks for stopping by our blog! I'm glad to have found yours....

    5. i wonder how they taste. i like what they can help with...sounds tempting in a way.

    6. have you tried any of these recipes? I haven't been on your blog in WAY too long. it looks great. love what yo have done to it.

    7. I remember reading somewhere about dandelion tea! thanks for the info!

    8. Funny you just posted this...I just sat down to the computer with my newly blended, spinach, green apple and dandelion smoothy. It's delicious, btw!