Spring has been teasing me along where I live and hasn’t fully expressed itself, but that hasn’t stopped the plants from sprouting. Dandelion is such an excellent Spring green to begin incorporating into your diet for three main reasons: 1) it grows in abundance everywhere, 2) none of the lookalikes are poisonous, and 3) it’s a great supplement for your Spring cleanse (like spring cleaning, but for your body!)
Dandelions are full of antioxidants, help to curb seasonal depression, and perhaps the most delicious fact of all is that all parts of the dandelion are edible: flower, leaves and root. After my partner and I’s foraging session today, we created a few different dandelion-derived goodies.
Dandelion leaves are incredibly rich in vitamins and minerals. They are a diuretic, which can aid in filtering toxins out of our body and helping to lower blood pressure. Just be sure to drink a healthy amount of water when consuming dandelion leaves to compensate for the water your will lose! Now, the leaves are dandelions are quite bitter, but there are a few methods to rectify this bitterness. The most simple method yet delicious method is to lightly sauté them with olive oil, pepper and salt. Perhaps I’ll share my recipe for Dandelion greens & risotto one of these days. A quick blanche always does the trick too.
The blossoms of dandelions remind me a bit of chamomile. They have that gentle sweetness, yet fresh floral quality to the taste. If you’re looking to both extend the shelf life of your herbs, but you still want to process them while their fresh, then a medicinal syrup might be the fix for you! This is really a matter of creating a simple syrup from a brewed dandelion tea.
Dandelion Simple Syrup
1 cup Dandelion Flowers
2 cups of Filtered, Distilled or Spring Water (thumbs up for fluoride-free!)
2 cups of raw or white sugar
Pour your water into your pot and toss in your gently washed dandelion flowers. Cover your pot and bring the pot to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, set it to a simmer and allow it to brew for half an hour. Strain your tea through some cheesecloth and put it back into the pan. Put it onto the stove at the same temperature as your simmer and add your sugar. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Transfer your syrup to a sterile mason jar, put a lid on it and allow it to cool. Store your Dandelion Simple Syrup in the fridge and add to teas, smoothies, and especially over your morning granola.
Dandelion Root is an excellent detoxifying material. Like Dandelion greens, the root is also a diuretic and helps the body to expel toxins through our urine. Because of this, dandelion root is a good addition for cleansing the liver. Dandelion root can also fight off infections within the body. And not only may it be helpful in riding the body of some cancers, but it’s also rich in antioxidants. After a thorough washing, you can brew it in water to make a tea, or you can slice it then dry the pieces to preserve them and make tea in the future. It can also be roasted and then brewed to make an energizing and detoxifying coffee substitute.
Learning how to harvest your own food and medicine can be so liberating! Dandelions are such an achievable forage-able and it truly is worth the effort. The best advice in harvesting dandelions is to be aware of the traffic on and near the land from which you harvest. Dandelions next to a busy city street or in a park where many of the plants are sprayed with pesticides are not going to be as beneficial as a those found in a forest or even in your own backyard. With all of this said, go out and make an adventure for yourself by hunting for your own medicine! You can do it!