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How to Eat Dandelions and Why Give Them a Try

by | May 19, 2021 | Fantastic Food | 0 comments

Finding out how to eat dandelions was never a thing I thought I would be investigating. They’re weeds, right? Not exactly a part of a healthy diet from a veggie garden? You pick them out of the lawn and hope they never come back (even though they always do). Springtime and later in the summer used to be a constant war between my mom and these little yellow flowers.  This year, I decided to finally listen to some of my friends who have been insisting that I stop thinking about them as weeds and start thinking about them as a healthy crop.

Here’s What I Know About How to Eat Dandelions

To start, the first thing you need to know about how to eat dandelions is that you can’t consume just any of them. If you’re walking down the street and see one coming up through the sidewalk or on someone’s lawn, it’s not an idea to snatch it up and start chewing. The issue is that while they’re nutritious, hardy little maniacs in the plant world, they’ll also absorb whatever they come in contact with. That includes lawn fertilizers and pesticides and whatever has drained out of someone’s car, auto emissions, road dust, gas lawnmower drippings, or that spilled when it was dropped on the sidewalk.

If you want them, make sure you’re getting them from your own un-sprayed, clean lawn or from another source you know you can trust to be clean and toxin-free. They’ll become one of the first things you’ll be able to eat from your garden, and you don’t even need any skill to grow them.  The worse your green thumb, the better!

What to Do Once You Have Them

The ones I like best are the “young” plants that are just about to flower or have just flowered.  Once they go to seed and grow “wishes”, the leaves become bitter – too bitter for my taste.  So, you’ll want to start scouting your lawn early if you want to know how to eat dandelions that don’t flip your face inside out. If you missed the spring crop, don’t worry, there’s another one in the summer.

My next best tip for how to eat dandelions is to eat them quickly after you pick them. Ideally on the same day that you pick them. They go limp and pathetic very quickly after you pick them. Once I get them inside, I like to lay them on a plate, then place a paper towel over them, then spritz the paper towel with water until it’s just damp, but not soaking. This helps to keep them until later when I’m ready to use them.

How to Eat the Parts of the Dandelion

Petals

These are the yellow petals, not the fluffy seeds. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch the petals and rip them all away from the green part at once. If you need them all to be un-crushed for some reason, snip them with scissors instead.  They taste bittersweet and can be used in:

  • Dandelion wine
  • Jelly
  • Tea
  • Fritters
  • Sorbet

Full disclosure: I’ve only ever made the tea.

Leaves

If you want maximum nutrients from how you eat dandelions, eat the leaves raw. Freshly picked from young plants are your best option for getting all the nutrients out of them. If you do get older plants and you find that they’re bitter (they’re seriously bitter!), dunk them into hot water then cold water (blanch them) and it takes the bitterness down. Dandelion leaves are great in:

  • Salads
  • Pesto
  • Sautéed
  • Instead of (or with) other greens on your sandwiches

I’ve tried every single one of those and they’re amazing.

Roots

Dandelions have a tough tap root. Grab the plant by the base and gently yank it out, and you’ll get a good chunk of the root if not the whole thing. Apparently, they’re good boiled or ground up and tossed into coffee to stretch your grounds.

I’ve never personally tried either of those because it seemed like more work than it was worth. I still thought I’d share in case you’re not as lazy as I am!

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