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Eating Dandelions

Eating Dandelions

Pity the American dandelion. In countries across the world the dandelion is considered a delicious vegetable and is consumed with affection–and dandelion has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. In America, it is most often cursed as an irksome weed and is pulled, poisoned and otherwise generally maligned.

Fortunately, dandelions do have a small and very allegiant cadre of fans here in the States. Along with traditional eaters, a new group of greenmarket enthusiasts, and those interested in foraging and wild greens are taking a shine to dandelions. And for good reason. They are delicious, and hugely healthy.

Nutritionally, dandelion greens and roots are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are one of the most nutritionally dense greens you can eat. Along with the punch of nutrition, they have many medicinal qualities as well. They are potassium-rich and have a strong diuretic quality, as well as efficacy as a blood detoxifier and good for the liver. They have long been used to treat digestive disorders and to treat arthritis and eczema.

Dandelion greens have a reputation for bitterness, but they are nicely so, and the bitterness is balanced by a lovely spiciness similar to arugula. Mature greens can get pretty bitter, but this can be tamed by blanching them.

The time to harvest dandelion greens is early in the spring, when they are their youngest and before they flower. They can be harvested again in late fall as they loose some of their bitterness after a frost. Look for young dandelions growing in rich, moist soil, making sure not to forage close to roads (they can accumulate pollution) or from areas that have been treated with garden chemicals. For a special treat, get out early in spring and look for the crown, which is the cluster of new buds that sits above the taproot. These are the tenderest, sweetest parts of the plant.

Young dandelion greens are tender and delicious served raw in salads or sandwiches. If you use the greens that have been harvested after the plant has flowered, you can blanch them in water to remove the bitterness; dump the bitter water, and blanch them again. You will loose a lot of vitamins this way, but there are still plenty of beneficial nutrients left. Use sauteed or steamed dandelion greens as you would any other greens. Dandelion root can by ground and used as a substitute for coffee, and dandelion flowers can be used in recipes and for garnish.

The French have a well-known soup called creme de pissenlits (cream of dandelion soup), which is easy to make, as is Dandelion Syrup.

Read more: Basics, Diet & Nutrition, Food, Lawns & Gardens, Outdoor Activities, , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

416 comments

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2:47AM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

thank for sharing this picture

12:50AM PDT on Apr 11, 2014

Very Nice Place Loved it

12:29AM PDT on Apr 11, 2014

aamzing work thank you

4:42AM PDT on Apr 4, 2014

Love your work

6:41AM PST on Nov 11, 2013

Here in Greece we use to eat dandelion. In fact it is very appreciated as many herbs we can find in nature or cultivated

4:24PM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

It is amazing that a plant that we consider a weed has such amazing health benefits and is so delicious too! I just love to eat fresh dandelion greens raw in salads with carrots and tomatoes in a vinegrette dressing. Not only are they super nutritious for you, but also have medicinal qualities, able to detoxify both the blood and the liver! How much better is it to eat dandelion greens with all benefits than popping pills with all kinds of adverse side effects! Thank you for this super article.

4:09PM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

Mmmmm you just came up again ty for being here :)

12:06AM PDT on Jul 18, 2013

I am so glad that you can eat these in the late fall! I thought they were poisonous after blossoming, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I wish their was more information about dandelions though. Too anyone who want's to try these, they are really good in the spring and even better with a little vinegar, salt, and butter. :) You cook them in boiling water for 20 minutes. The broth in the early spring is the best though and not as bitter as people claim it to be. Give it a try!

12:55PM PDT on May 10, 2013

thanks, I have been wanting to try dandelion for some time now. Hard to find a clean place where they grow in a big city, though.

2:51AM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

awesome...seeing is how half of my lawn is sprouting with these buggers!

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