How To Eat And Love This Spring Green Found In Everyone's Yard

Do you know what plant I'm talking about? Or are you skeptical?

Yes, I guarantee you that this spring green can be found in your yard.

In fact, they can be found on every continent in the world, except for Antarctica.

Traditionally they have been valued for their edible and medicinal properties.

But today they are often widely disparaged as incorrigible, tenacious, stubborn. Some even curse them because they invade lawns, fields, and even between cracks in pavement despite human's efforts to poison, pull them up, mow them away, and stifle them with all sorts of mulch.

Did you guess it?

They are dandelions!

(Taraxacum officinale)



But, they're so bitter?

Why, oh, why would you eat them?


Friend or foe? Reasons to eat dandelions

Reason #1:  Because they are nutritious!

Did you know that every part of the plant, leaves, flowers and root, is edible, raw or cooked? Thanks to that tenacious tap root that reaches down deep to bring up the valuable nutrition, dandelions are rich in potassium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, sodium, copper, choline, calcium, iron, fiber; and vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, B12, C, D, and E.

Reason #2:  Because bitter foods have health benefits!

The bitter taste of foods help you digest your food and have better absorption and balance of minerals. This action is often because the bitterness stimulates the stomach acidity necessary for proper digestion.

Reason #3:  Because they are veggies that are free and everywhere!

That dandelions are ubiquitous is an understatement. Everywhere you go there are dandelions and often in a substantial amount to contribute to a meal!

Eat your veggies doesn't get cheaper than this!  No garden necessary :)  Or just weed them out of the garden, because who doesn't have them in places they don't want them!?

Reason #4:  Because they are delicious!

They're actually our favorite green.  But maybe that's because it doesn't take any work to grow them, haha.  But seriously the taste is delicious.  Try it out for yourself.


Here are some of our family's tips to help you find ways to love dandelions.



How to eat and love dandelion greens: Our favorite way!

As I mentioned above, besides being much maligned for being impossible to eradicate, dandelion greens are also bitter in taste which doesn't appeal to everyone. Here is our favorite way for eating dandelion greens in springtime, reducing the bitterness!


How to identify dandelion greens

It's easy to identify a dandelion plant in flower, right? But if you're going for the leaves, you need to be able to find them.

They grow in a rosette on the ground, low to the ground with the leaves lying flat. There are no leaves growing on the stem. Only the flower comes out of the stem.

They have jagged hairless leaves that can be somewhat variable. Here's a picture;



When to pick dandelion greens

Dandelion greens are the best BEFORE the flower stalks start shooting up. So pick them in early springtime before you see the yellow flowers.  See photo above for what to look for.


How to pick dandelion greens

Take a sharp straight or serrated knife and cut under the basal rosette to get a whole “plant”. Rather than picking the leaves, this is a faster and easier way to harvest them. You can also just pick the leaves, but you won't get as much weight from the same plant.

Here's a picture of a harvested dandelion greens top:



How to clean dandelion greens

Rinse, rinse, rinse well! Rinse under running water in a colander until water runs clean. Or soak in a bowl then rinse in a colander. Little stones can find their way under the leaves, so clean them well before eating.


How to cook dandelion greens

  1. Put clean dandelion greens into a pot.
  2. Cover them with water.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Drain once to lessen bitter taste (optional).
  5. Cover the dandelion greens with water again.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Simmer until very tender, approximately 20 minutes.
  8. Drain well and top with butter, salt, pepper, and your choice of vinegar.


When not to eat dandelion greens

While dandelion greens are edible anytime of year, they are much more bitter and tough after they flower. So if you wait until they flower, you may not like them as much. But don't worry, you can move on to eating the flowers!



Other ways to eat dandelions


Dandelion greens raw in salads

While dandelion leaves can be bitter, they can be successfully added into salads in small amounts with other greens. Try it!

Kinda like radicchio or other bitter greens. Try it with a balsamic dressing :)


Dandelion flower fritters

We love to do this when the flowers are pretty and plentiful on the farm! The kids like them, too!

  1. Pick as many dandelion flowers as you want fritters. 
  2. Dredge each one in beaten egg and then in cornmeal with a little salt and pepper mixed into it. 
  3. Then fry them in oil in a hot skillet until crispy and golden brown on both sides, flipping halfway through. 
  4. Serve hot as tasty little single blossom treats!  Yum!



Roasted dandelion roots for tea/coffee substitute

  1. Harvest the roots from a big-sized plant found in your lawn or better yet in your garden when you're doing fall clean up.
  2. Remove the greens and wash the roots well.
  3. Slice the root crosswise and slow-roast it in the oven until it darkens and is dried, about 30 minutes at 350°F (175°C).
  4. Let it cool, and then stow it away in pieces. I use approximately 1.5 TBLS per 2 cups water, boiled for 15-20 min. Or grind it up to use like coffee grounds.



Ideas for using dandelions medicinally

With all of the above uses you get dandelions' general tonic and blood cleansing properties. 

But, there are many ways to use dandelions medicinally for specific treatment applications. 

Here are some of the ways we have used dandelions medicinally for you to check out:

  • root tincture
  • flowers infused in oil
  • root tea
  • and many other medicinal uses that we have yet to try!


And finally if you do nothing else, please let the dandelions be! They are great for pollinators like bees and other insects especially because they are one of the first food sources in the springtime.



What is your favorite way to use dandelions? Or have you not tried them before but will after reading this?

Let me know what you think in a comment below.


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Comments (4)

Thank you!! My morning routine includes a cup of dandelion tea. And I’ve enjoyed dandelion salads but never from my own kitchen. May have to try this!

I think I will give this a go this spring. Thanks

If you haven’t made dandelion jelly, give that a go. It looks and tastes like honey.

Had a teacher in middle school who showed us how to harvest and eat dandelion greens. Never forgotten that. Very tasty!