I don't have to seek out fields, pastures, or lawns (untreated with poison chemicals) to gather a trove of golden dandelion blossoms! I...much to the shock and awe of my neighbors and friends...happily grow them in my own gardens.
I don't allow dandelions to grow in the lawn or the many pathways on the property. If they do - and very few do invade these spaces - I simply harvest them - root and tops - for medicinal teas. I wash them thoroughly, particularly the soil-laden roots, and spread them on a waxed paper-covered cookie sheet to dry. When dried completely I chop them up and store them in a canning jar in my tea cupboard. I use this tea for digestive woes, colds, flu, and as a tonic, detoxifying beverage.
Right now, I'm gathering several pints of dandelion blossoms to make dandelion wine. It takes gathering the flowers each day for a week, or so, to get enough flowers to make a lightly colored, herbaceous-flavored, tonic wine. It was traditional to allow the wine to age until the Winter Solstice when it was then uncorked and sipped as part of the ancient solar-based celebration. The wine's best aged for a year or more.
To make sure the flowers stay fresh over the gathering period, I freeze them. I gather, freeze, gather, freeze until a quart-sized baggy is full, but not stuffed. A quart-size baggy holds about one full pint of blossoms. The baggy is stored, along with several others until I have the requisite amount of flowers needed to make my wine. I will reveal my not-so-secret recipe in a future post after I've gathered enough blossoms to make a gallon of wine. Cheers!
In addition to gathering the blossoms, and the entirety of those few rebellious enough to invade my lawn and pathways, I also gather the leaves for salads and cooking in soups and pasta dishes. Fresh dandelion leaves are great mixed into - or as - salads. Dress them with a garlicky, mustardy, vinaigrette!
Steamed and dressed with oil, lemon juice, and a dash of Tabasco, dandelion greens are nutritious and tasty. Whip sauteed dandelion greens into mashed, garlicky, butter-redolent potatoes for a treat (I'll have that recipe in my next post).
Dandelions are not just food, but medicine, too! They are rich in calcium and potassium, Vitamin C, A, B, and D. Dandelions are also a gentle diuretic (their old English name is...um, no delicate way to put this....is...ah..."piss-a-beds"). And, as a diuretic, won't flush valuable potassium out of your body!
Eating and drinking dandelions (the root, especially) and their juice (from leaves) will help to heal ulcers and sooth digestive upsets.
Dandelions are one of the prime detoxification herbs and have a cleansing, healing effect on the liver and gallbladder - even dissolving gallstones (the leaf is most effective for this). They stimulate the kidneys to flush out toxins from infections and pollution. As a diuretic they relieve high blood pressure by reducing the volume of fluids in the body. Do you love them yet?
Dandelions are healing medicine in such conditions as acne, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, gout, and osteoporosis. And, they taste good! Aren't you just feeling the love?
Popular wisdom states that one should eat tender dandelion leaves before they blossom. After blossoming they - as do many greens - go bitter. I eat them before and and after blossoming. I happen to like their bitterness. Cooking does sweeten them for those who dislike bitter flavors.
Dandelions are good for your garden! They bring up nitrogen and other nutrients which benefits the plants growing nearby. They shade the soil with their leaves preventing moisture evaporation and weeds. Dandelions really are quite attractive with their bright, sunny flowers and their ephemeral seed heads, good for a wish or two!
So...since dandelions are so tasty, nutritious, pretty, and healing, perhaps it's time to re-think the wholesale war on them. Use them for food and medicine and you won't have so many in your lawn or have to purchase and use harsh, possibly dangerous-to-humans-and-pets chemicals! Maybe dandelions are so persistent simply because they are trying to get our attention! And, help us to be healthier. And...thereby, happier.
* * * *