Dandelions For Dinner

Most people consider dandelions a nuisance. But to those in-the-know regarding foraging, the dandelion is a source of free food. Did you know that dandelions are edible??

Dandelions Are Everywhere Right Now!

Dandelions are probably the easiest plant to identify. They are quite widespread. If you look outside right now, you might even see some… or lots!

It’s the middle of May as I write this. The dandelions are in full bloom throughout all of the fields around here. There are lots of farms and hay fields in my area and it sure is a sea of beautiful orange-yellow!

I just snapped the picture above (Sampson sniffing the warm breeze while in obvious tranquil delight). And the one below of a picture-perfect dandelion cluster specimen. Purrrty…

Dandelions Are Edible

The entire dandelion is edible, from the root to the flower, and they can be found quite easily in many areas, even in early spring or late fall.

The dandelion flower can be eaten right off the plant. The young ones taste the best. As they grow bigger and more mature they will develop a slightly bitter taste.

The leaves can be eaten too. Young leaves taste best. As they mature, they develop a bitter taste. Boil them briefly to help remove any bitterness.

The roots can also be eaten, however it is advised that you boil them.

The water used from boiling can even be drunk as a tea afterward.

Tip: Olive oil will take away some of the bitterness.

Note: Know where your dandelions come from. Have they been sprayed with lawn chemicals? Then don’t eat them!

Lots Of Ways To Use Dandelions

To the Native North American Indian, there was no such thing as a ‘weed’. Every living plant had a purpose.

said ‘DeepSouth’

As a child our grand mother would have all of the grand children picking the dandelions. She would use them in so many ways,

said ‘Otarn’

Dandelions used by ‘common folk’ of Europe for centuries

Dandelions are a good opening for a very serious topic. These common, boring “lawn weeds” were actually plants that had been used by the common folk of Europe for centuries.

The thing that’s out of place isn’t that Europeans accidentally brought these “weeds” to America, it’s the recent introduction of the lawn. Almost every weed brought here from overseas over a hundred years ago was intentionally brought. You can think of them as part of some immigrant’s survival supplies. Plants like dandelions and plantain are sorta multipurpose tools.

said ‘Lake Oz’, a commenter here on the blog

Dandelion Wine

My great Grandma made dandelion wine from the sweet flower petals.

said ‘Stardust’

Years ago when I was making wine, my wife and I picked several pounds of dandelion flowers and used them to make about 2 gallons of wine. My wife still talks about it as the best wine she has ever tasted.

We have also used the small leaves right from the plant and added them to our salad for dinner.

said ‘Willy P6’

Dandelion Jelly

Dandelion jelly is what we make from these flowers, has a honey flavor. I prefer honeysuckle jelly (easier for me to gather).

said ‘Country Girl in SC’

Creamed Dandelion Leaves

My grandma made the dandelion leaves into a ‘creamed spinach’

said ‘Tango’

Baked Dandelion Flowers

I bake and cook the flowers on a skillet. Put them on a cookie sheet, hit with oil, and add your favorite season salt or put some olive oil in the skillet, fry up and season how you like.

I can’t keep my kids out of the baked ones. They’ll eat a whole cookie sheets worth if I let them.

said ‘Chamele0n’

Dandelions are loaded with vitamins and anti-oxidants and are one of nature’s richest green vegetable sources of beta-carotene, from which vitamin A is created (14,000 units/100 g leaf).

They also are a very good source of Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Manganese.

Who knew??

Foraging Books on amzn:

The Forager’s Harvest
A Field Guide To Edible Wild Plants

Foraging the Rocky Mountains
Northeast Foraging
Pacific Northwest Foraging
Southeast Foraging

I originally posted this many years ago. This season’s dandelions reminded me of it, so I thought I would freshen it up and repost. A perfect happy springtime preparedness tip. Foraging is an art in and of itself. One must be careful. However dandelions are blatantly obvious :)

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19 Comments

  1. Great article! Our group is just starting to get into this. (Yes, I’m a little behind the curve and have a lot to learn…) Give Sampson a hug from all of us here.

  2. I have tried battering and frying the flowers. They are ok. I don’t care much for dandelion leaves alone. Poke is my favorite greens. I will put some dandelion and plantain in with them. Cook this up with some bacon grease and hot pepper. It’s making me hungry just thinking about it.

  3. car guy
    you can put hot peppers and bacon grease on a hubcap and make it taste good. : )

  4. – It doesn’t have caffeine, but roasted dandelion root, ground and used like coffee grounds, tastes very much like coffee. Just to add one more use to a valuable plant.

    – Papa S.

    1. I boiled some dandelion root once after they were dried. I was told it was a good coffee substitute. The result tasted nothing like coffee although it did taste pretty good. That was done before I learned to roast the roots. Haven’t tried the roasted roots yet which most likely will make the difference.

  5. Not only are they good for us, but they are essential spring forage for the honey bee population. We try to let the lawn go as long as feasibly possible to let the bees have at it before I just have to go out there and chop them up. If you are out in the lawn in the dandelions you will see every kind of bee and insect. It is so much fun to watch the honey bees gathering on them, hoping from flower to flower, then zoom home. Only to see another arrive and continue the process!

    Thanks Ken!

  6. Many thanks to Papa Smurf for the roasting of dandelion root as a coffee substitute. I heard this suggestion years ago but my memory was fuzzy on the details. More specific instructions would be appreciated as I have a good crop of them and I use the greens at times for a forager’s salad or cooked greens. I agree about bacon making just about anything taste better. My dog is my kitchen helper whenever bacon hits the skillet.

  7. I never tried eating the flowers. I have eaten squash blossoms by coating with egg wash mix and bread crumbs in hot clean oil. This is a favorite thing to do in the summer time with summer squash.

    1. Cali
      Chive blossoms are also good, in the manner you do the summer squash blooms.
      I will have to give that a try…..I like the suggested bacon grease sort a thang.
      Even in a hubcap.

    2. Cali, if ya stuff the squash blossoms with a bit of herbed ricotta you will be in heaven!!
      PS, made your short ribs while we were on a fishing trip with family and friends. Gave recipe to all who ate and loved them!!
      Peace
      MadFab

  8. As Ken said,
    Be aware of chemicals that may have been used on lawns.
    Same goes with road ways.
    Calcium chloride brine, along with other brines are used on gravel roads, for dust control, here in my state.
    And various county used chemicals for brush kill off along roadsides.

  9. My dad made some dandelion wine years ago. It was awesome. There was a lot of picking involved of picking the gajillion flowers and then picking off the green the green base of the flower. The end result was worth the effort.

  10. – Pull and wash the roots; Put them in a slow oven (sorry, I was using a Dutch oven and campfire when I did this, I don’t have more accurate temperature) and roast them until they are dark brown, about the color of coffee grounds.

    When I did this, we broke the roots into smaller bits and put the crumbled roots through an old-fashioned hand coffee grinder. We put the result through a regular percolator on the campfire.

    To me, the result tasted rather like decaf instant Sanka. Not great, but not bad. It was an experiment, and a while ago.

    – Papa

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