Dandelions are a common “weed” here in Canada. Mother Nature knows best and she provided us with not only a beautiful yellow flower, but also a superfood that grows almost everywhere and spreads like wildfire.
I grew up pulling them out of my mom’s garden. There were hard to pull out because the taproots run really deep, especially if they have been growing for a few years. If only I had known, they are more than a just a weed to be pulled out.
Dandelions are completely edible (flowers, roots, stems and leaves) and packed full of nutrients including choline, potassium, iron, calcium, vitamin A, C, K and B-6.
Dandelion is a diuretic, which basically means it makes you pee. This, combined with its high antioxidant content make them a powerful cleanser. One of the usual complaints of diuretics is a side effect of potassium loss and dehydration, luckily dandelions are naturally high in potassium which makes it safe to use.
Dandelions have a distinct bitter taste to them which stimulates digestion and therefore increases your metabolism. Dandelions can help you lose weight!
There are currently studies being done in Windsor Ontario to test the effects of dandelion root extracts on cancer cells. According to researchers, tests done prior the clinical trial showed that dandelion tea, containing dandelion root extract, killed cancer cells in a lab.
How to eat them?
The entire plant can be eaten. Leaves can be added to salads or smoothies. Although there is no harm in eating them at any time, the leaves will be more bitter the older they are. Young leaves are much more suitable for salads, whereas older leaves can be used for cooking i.e. soups.
The roots can be cooked and eaten with other root vegetables, but most commonly they are turned into tea. Roasted dandelion root tea has a taste similar to coffee. It is often used as a caffeine free coffee alternative as it does not have any of the ill effects on the nerves that coffee and tea have.
The yellow flowered heads can be used to make tea, eaten in salads or even made into wine. The easiest way to intake dandelions is to make tea. Simply pour boiling water over the dandelion and steep for a few minutes before drinking. You can use all parts of the plant for the tea.
If you are feeling more adventurous, try the wine recipe below.
For the wine you will need:
- 1L dandelion flowers. Taking the petals out of the flower will help give a sweeter taste to your wine.
- 4L water
- 1 tablespoon of brewer’s yeast
- 4 cups of sugar
- ½ lemon sliced
- ½ orange sliced
Boil the dandelion flowers in water and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain the flowers out and let the liquid cool to room temperature.
Stir in the yeast, sugar, orange and lemons.
Place the mixture in a jar, in a perfect world with a fermentation lid.
Let the liquid sit at room temperature. As the yeast eats the sugar, bubbles will be visible. Once you can no longer see the bubbles, your wine is ready! Drink with care!
Next time you go to pull the dandelions out of your garden, think twice.