It’s time to make use of your unwanted dandelions!
As the sun finally makes its grand appearance the dandelions soon follow suit. Though the former brings more joy than the latter, these bountiful yellow flowers can have you smiling all the same! At least if you know what you can do with them this time.
These nutrient-rich herbs are freely sprouting wherever they possibly can, likely in more places than you would prefer. As long as you harvest from pesticide/herbicide-free areas the entirety of the herb can be used. Not to mention it is one of the easiest plants to harvest making it a great excuse to get the kids in on helping out on yard work. *Hint hint*
Dandelions in flavor are refreshing, earthy, slightly bitter, and chicory-esque. As well as a unique ingredient it has been used medicinally in many different cultures, as they do grow across the globe. Dandelions are a great way to detoxify the bladder, kidneys, and liver as they are a source of vitamin A, C, K, B, magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium, and choline. They have also been used for lactation support, blood sugar regulation, fluid retention, and a quick pinch for an upset tummy. To think something so nutritious could be so hated! Here are 4 easy ideas of what to do with your new yellow best friends.
Tea is the best way to capitalize on the dandelion’s detoxifying properties. The tea can be made hot for a soothing tonic or made cold to refresh you on those sunny days.
To prepare the tea, gather one dandelion flower head for every ounce of water you wish to use. Boil water on the stovetop and remove from the heat or use a tea infuser and let the flowers steep for around 20 minutes. The tea pairs wonderfully with any of your favorite sweeteners.
To make an iced version repeat this process but triple the amount of flower heads used for every ounce of water. Let steep for 20 minutes in boiled water and remove the pedals. Add ice and stir until chilled. I like to add lime juice to taste but any citrus is sure to make a delightful refreshment.
If you love the taste of chicory, you’ll love the taste of dandelion root. It makes a perfect substitute for a hot dark cup of a pick-me-up in the mornings. To start, harvest your roots with a small shovel and give them a good wash. Set the oven to 250° and cut into inch-long-sized chunks. Place onto a cooking tray and allow to dry for around 2 hours. You will want to keep the oven door slightly ajar to let the moisture escape and to stir frequently to prevent burning. Once the roots are completely cooled they can be stored in a container, such as a mason jar.
You will only need 1tsp of your dried roots for every mug you wish to brew. Steep in boiled water for at least 15 minutes et voilà! Add hot oat milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, or anything else your heart desires.
The leaves of the dandelion can be prepared fresh for an extra bite in your salads. They can also be sautéed along with garlic and pepper flakes for a perfect substitute to any leafy greens that may be missing from your pantry. Consider blanching the leaves first if you find them too bitter.
The flower heads can be used as a natural yellow dye alternative. The more blooms you pick the more saturated color will result. Add the flowers to a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and allow to “cook” for at least 2 hours. Strain the leaves and you’re ready to start dying! You’ll want to add a mordant to your dye if you wish for your fabric to absorb the vivid color.
These 4 ways to use dandelions are pretty easy after all. Pretty nifty for just being some weeds, eh? Just don’t get too eager and pick them all. Consider keeping a patch in your yard to encourage bee population, as well as to keep your stock full. Learn to make peace with your lil yellow enemies and they will always be there when you’re least expecting.
Written by Drew Valentine