Are Eating Dandelions Good for You? Tips on Harvesting and Usage
Updated: Aug 19
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Thanks for stopping by to read the post on Dandelion. In this blog post, we cover How to identify and harvest Dandelions, their medicinal benefits and a few of their uses. Dandelion has some great health benefits and is commonly used as a tea, vinegar and tincture.
Click below to check out our Freebie for a MYSTERY RECIPE – a must-try recipe that will leave you wanting more each time.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a perennial herb with yellow flowers that show up in early spring.
It has been used medicinally for thousands of years and was even mentioned in the Bible. Dandelion is both tenacious and generous. It will grow in the most desolate places (like in-between the cracks in a building), but it will also bring great healing to those who need it. Just eat some Dandelion flowers and greens every day and keep the doctors at bay (for a lot of common problems, we must say). So, let's learn about these amazing weeds, oh Herbs (sorry, out of Habit)…
What are Dandelions?
Dandelion is a common herb that most people consider a pesky weed. In reality, the Dandelion is the king of herbs. It has many health benefits and can be used for treating liver disease, kidney disease and diabetes. The leaves are rich in vitamins A, B6 and C and also contain antioxidants. Dandelion root contains many minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. The name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion, or "lion's tooth," referring to the jagged teeth on its leaves. Some people call them blow-balls because of their puffball-like seed heads that blow away with the wind, making them difficult to eradicate from lawns.
How to Identify edible Dandelion Plant
Dandelion plants are easy to spot because of their bright yellow tiny flowers on a single stalk that rises above the grass. Each of these flowers has a white center surrounded by yellow petals. The dandelion leaves are long, feathery, and light green with jagged edges. They grow in a rosette shape at the base of the stem.
The roots of the dandelion are long, white, and leafy with a milky juice that protects them from harm. They bloom from April until June with bright yellow flowers that form into little seed heads that look like parachutes when they're ready to blow away in the wind!
How to Harvest and Clean Dandelion
Dig the roots using a shovel or simply your hands. Use scissors or pruners to cut the leaves and flowers carefully without damaging the plant. Leave room for re-growth. Early morning is the best time to pick. Avoid industrial areas or high traffic zones. Wash the dandelions with cold water before use, repeatedly 4-5 times. You can also freeze dandelion greens for use later in the year. Simply wash and dry them thoroughly, then chop into pieces no larger than 1 inch wide by 1 inch long and place them into freezer bags or containers.
How to Harvest Dandelion Roots
The best time to harvest dandelion roots is during the early fall months when the plant has gone to seed but has not yet begun to die back completely. However, you can dig them all year round. The roots should be dug carefully to avoid damaging them because this affects their ability to regrow next year.
How to Harvest Dandelion Flowers
Harvest dandelion flowers when they are young and fresh, from mid-spring to summer. Pick them before the buds open completely, or the flower will be bitter tasting. The smaller the flower head, the sweeter it will taste. If a small amount is needed for immediate use, pick individual flowers one at a time; do not pick more than 10 percent of any one plant so as not to harm its future growth potential.
How to Harvest Dandelion Leaves
The best time to harvest leaves is early spring before they flower. You can simply pluck off a few leaves from the top of the plant (not from the base of the stem) or using scissors, cut off the base of each leaf at its junction with the stem. Harvest them in the early morning as soon as the dew has dried. If you wait until later in the day, the leaves will be bitter and tough. Wash them well in cold water before using them in your recipe.
What are the Health Benefits of Eating Dandelions?
1. Help in Regulating Blood Sugar 2. Anti-inflammatory
3. Aid in lowering Cholesterol levels 4. Reduce Cancer Risk and may help in Fighting Cancer 5. Aid in Digestion 6. Heal and Protect the Skin 7. Relieve muscle pains As you know from the above list, the health benefits of Dandelions are many, but let's discuss the two, common ones in-detail.
Dandelion as a Digestive Aid
Dandelion extract has been used for centuries as a digestive aid because it stimulates bile production in the liver, which helps us break down fats more easily for better absorption of nutrients from our food sources. Dandelion also promotes healthy bowel movements by relieving constipation and diarrhea associated with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn's disease. In fact, a study on mice found that Dandelion can reduce the effect of carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) -induced hepatic liver fibrosis.(1) In another study, this medicinal plant showed a reduction in excess fat levels in the liver and prevents oxidative stress. (2)
Dandelion can help reduce Cancer and may help in Fighting Cancer
Dandelion is rich in beta-carotene, iron, potassium and vitamin C. Dandelion can be used as a natural treatment for cancer patients and for those who have been diagnosed with cancer. Several studies have been conducted in this regard. One study found it to demonstrate anti-cancerous effects against Leukemia(3), while another study found that it may reduce the growth of cancer cells in the stomach(4). And a lesser known fact is that the University of Windsor in Canada has started The Dandelion Root Project (2009) which as stated by the University, "Dandelion Root Project is aimed at showcasing scientific evidence for the safe and effective use of dandelion root extract and other natural health products for cancer therapy." The University also added, "We are working on identifying the anticancer components of dandelion root extract and investigating the mechanism of action." Furthermore, they are working on 14 different natural extracts that have similar potential.
How to Use Dandelion plant
The dandelion leaves can be used in salads or cooked like spinach. The roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute, or dried and ground into flour for breads or pastries. Dandelion flowers can be eaten raw, steamed or boiled like broccoli or cauliflower. They can also be used to make wine or tea (or used to make our Mystery recipe)
1/2 cup dandelion flower heads 1/2 cup white wine vinegar (5% acidity)
Steps to make Dandelion Vinegar –
1. Wash the flowers thoroughly, 3-4 times 2. Put them into a Mason jar 3. Pour vinegar over them 4. Seal the Mason jar with parchment paper (because the vinegar will react with both metal and plastic) 5. Let this sit for a month in a dark place. Tip - Vinegar is a medicinal preparation. You can use it in salads as it's full of antioxidants and beta-carotene, which is good for deeper cell regeneration.
Ingredients: 1 tbsp of sesame or olive oil 2 cups of dandelion leaves (finely chopped) 1/2 cup of mushroom (chopped) 1/2 cup of Zucchini (chopped) 1/2 of a medium onion, chopped 1 clove of garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.) 2 tbsp of Teriyaki (for smokiness) 2 tbsp Hoisin (sweetness) Note – Adjust the sauces as per your taste.
Steps to make Dandelion Stir-fry:
1. Clean dandelion leaves before finely chopping them.
In a saucepan, add Onions, garlic, mushrooms, zucchini, and then the leaves. Stick to this order of the veggies.
Next, add sauces and salt and pepper to taste.
Voila, a bowl of Dandelion stir-fry! Tip – Leaves taste bitter in salads, so a stir-fry with sauces can make them flavourful. Because eating the greens, keeps the body clean!
Baked Dandelion Roots
Ingredients: 1 cup of Dandelion roots 1 tbsp of Olive Oil Salt and pepper to taste Steps to make Baked Dandelion Roots:
1. Clean the roots with water 2. Put them on a tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper 3. Bake at 350 for 10-20mins, flipping it halfway through
And that's a wrap on Dandelions. So, with the ongoing Dandelion Flower season, it's time you roll up your sleeves and reap the health benefits of Dandelion all year round.
Click below to download our Dandelion mystery recipe. Sources of Information: 1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874110003661?utm_campaign=11-health-benefits-of-dandelion-leaves-and-dandelion-root&utm_medium=sw&utm_source=link&via%3Dihub 2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33804908/ 3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22363452/ 4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28724210/ Disclaimer: Dirt Magicians and its materials are not intended for medical advice, treatment, cure or diagnosis. All material on the DirtMagicians website is provided for educational purposes only. We advise you to always talk to your physician or your healthcare advisor for any consultation and usage of any products listed or mentioned on the site. In case of any questions regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet or any health-related programs, please consult a health practitioner.