The only difference between a flower and a weed is judgement.
- Wayne Dyer
Most people don't think much about the humble dandelion other than how to eradicate it from their yards. But allow me an attempt to convince you to think twice before spraying those drops of sunshine.
Herbalists will tell you that plants tend to show up when you need them. Do you think it is a coincidence that a well-known liver detoxifying herb tries to pop up near every home that allows it? I don't. We would all do well to take notice of what naturally grows outside our own doors.
Dandelions are magical in that they are able to grow almost anywhere - they certainly try to! They are also special in the fact that every part of the plant is usable - culinary and medicinally.
Listed below is a recipe utilizing each part of the plant. Hopefully once you've had a chance to become familiar with this talented, hardy herb and to try the recipes, you will look at the humble, powerful dandelion with new respect.
If you are going to harvest dandelions, be sure the area is away from roadways and that you know for sure the yard or field has not been sprayed within the last three years.
What exactly is in dandelions that makes them so good for you? For starters, they are a nutritional powerhouse. They are extremely high in vitamin A, potassium, calcium, B vitamins, beta-carotene, fiber, inulin, pectin, micronutrients and trace minerals.
Vitamin A is best known for helping with vision but it is also important for maintaining healthy epithelial cells all over the body. Potassium is useful for lowering blood pressure. Choline improves energy and brain and nerve function. Inulin is a soluble fiber that improves gut and bowel health.
Dandelion is used as a diuretic, laxative, anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory, blood purifier, and to calm nerves. Because dandelion also stimulates liver function, other benefits emerge - your digestion improves, your skin issues improve, and your allergies improve.
Collecting dandelion flowers is a very grounding exercise. Being outside in the sunshine, handling plants and dirt, feet on the ground, breathing in fresh air - it all has a way of renewing our spirits.
The properties of dandelion flowers can be infused into olive oil and then used to benefit the skin. It can be kept as an oil or turned into a salve like my Skin Savvy.
Here is a recipe for a delightful Dandelion Candy. The author uses them as a treat but says they work great as a cough drop too.
Author: Tessa at Homestead Lady
2 Cups dandelion tea*
2 Cups raw sugar
1 Cup honey
½ tsp powdered ginger
½ tsp turmeric
1 lemon squeeze and strain out the seeds
Mix all the ingredients in a medium to large, heavy-bottomed pot with handles. Stir once to combine.
Place on a burner with medium heat.
From this point on, don’t stir the contents of the pot. Using the handles, gently swish the contents of the pot as the mixture heats to prevent scorching.
Using a candy thermometer, heat to 300F/149C until hard crack stage. Watch carefully for signs of the sugar scorching or burning. Remove from heat to cool a bit if necessary. If you have a gas stovetop, it’s easier to control the flame and prevent burning. This process is much harder on an electric stove. Ask me how I know.
Remove immediately from heat and begin place by spoonful onto a silicone mat or buttered glass dish. You can also pour mixture into heat-proof silicone molds for fun shapes and sizes.
Wait at least ten minutes and remove the dandelion candy by carefully popping them up.
Coat in organic powdered sugar to prevent the dandelion candy from sticking together. Alternatively, you can use stevia powdered mix with cassava flour. You could use arrowroot powder, if you prefer, but I think it’s too bitter. This is candy, after all.
Dandelion Candy Notes
*To make dandelion tea, gather about three cups of dandelion blooms. Snip the green ends off and compost them. Place the blooms into heat-safe bowl and cover with at least 4 cups of boiling water. Let it sit for at least 4-6 hours. The longer you leave it, the darker and stronger the tea will get. Strain and compost the used dandelion.
**If you don’t have a candy thermometer, heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves. It takes roughly another half hour to get the heated mixture to 300F/149C. The mixture will start to bubble (boil) and separate when it’s hot enough. You can drop a bit of the mixture into a glass of cold water; if it hardens quickly, it’s ready. You can also drop a bit onto a silicone mat to see if it hardens, which it should start to do quickly.
The leaves of the dandelion can be found bundled in most grocery stores in the produce section. They make a great addition to any salad. This recipe goes beyond general salad and takes dandelion leaves to a whole new level - Vegan Dandelion Pesto.
Note: As a Foot Zonology practitioner, I would recommend NOT adding the optional nutritional yeast as indicated in the recipe. You can read more about why I say that HERE.
Dandelion Walnut Pesto
Author: Katie at WHOLELOVELYLIFE.COM
Serves: 6-8 servings
1 bunch dandelion greens
¼ cup basil leaves
½ cup raw walnuts
½ cup olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
juice from ½ lemon
2 garlic cloves
Optional: 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
Wash dandelion greens and remove leaves from stems.
Place dandelion greens, basil leaves, walnuts, olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, garlic cloves and optional nutritional yeast in a food processor and process on high to desired consistency. Less time will give you a chunkier pesto, more time will give you a smoother pesto.
If you are nervous to venture out digging up roots, don't worry. People have done it for you. You can purchase already cleaned, cut, and dried dandelion root here.
Now, what to do with it? Dandelion root is a common substitute for those trying to steer away from coffee and its caffeine. To make it more reminiscent of coffee, simply roast the roots before simmering them. You can use the roots dried as they are to make a tea, roasting just brings out a different flavor. Both are great, it just depends on what taste you are looking for.
To make Dandelion root tea, use 1 tsp of the root per 1 cup of hot water. You can either pour the hot water over the root and cover it and let steep for about 15 minutes or you can simmer the root and water for 20 minutes. Sweeten with a bit of raw honey, if preferred.
“If you see a dandelion as a weed, you’ll spray it. If you see it as a flower, you’ll draw it close, turn it this way and that, and become lost in the colossal burst of slender golden petals that spew sunshine into the darkest of souls. And so, how many things have we sprayed that could have illuminated our souls if we would have let them be more than what we let them be?”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough
written by Cassi Carnes
Cassi is a Master Herbalist and FootZonology practitioner
and Instructor. She loves designing herbal tea blends and salves.
You can find her homemade products at wilddaisywellness.com
or @wilddaisywellness on IG and Facebook.