I'm always looking for edible/medicinal plants where I live. At the moment I'm harvesting dandelions. These beautiful, sunny yellow plants grow wild in my garden and neighbourhood every year.
All parts of the dandelion are edible: flowers, leaves and roots. Spring is the best time for picking dandelions, the leaves are more tender and the taste is a lot less bitter.
The dandelion is a true all rounder in terms of medicinal benefits. Its botanical name is Taraxacum officinale, which means the "Official Remedy for Disorders." When I investigated this amazing plant's properties and nutrients, I understood how it could help support so many conditions.
- Rich in antioxidants like betacarotene, vitamin C and E which prevent free-radical damage to the cells
- Source of the B-complex vitamins
- Source of many minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and zinc
- Contains fibre
- Contains vitamin K
- Source of essential fatty acids and lecithin
- A source of many phytonutrients
Some Health Benefits
- Promotes digestion
- Supports liver, detoxification and promotes the flow of bile
- Supports kidney/adrenal functioning and can help to balance blood pressure
- Supports blood sugar management
- Anti-inflammatory, promotes wound healing
- Supports nerve and muscle functioning
Dandelion as Food
If you want to harvest dandelions, make sure that no pesticides/fertilisers have been sprayed over them. Also avoid picking dandelions from busy roadsides or industrial wasteland where they will pick up pollution.
When harvesting dandelion leaves pick the younger inner leaves rather than the older more bitter outer leaves. The best tasting leaves are from dandelions which have not yet flowered.
Cut dandelion flower heads from the base. When using the flowers, try to separate them from the green base which can be quite bitter tasting.
To maximise nutrition, add raw leaves and flower petals to salads, juices and smoothies. Stems and leaves may be cooked or blended into soups at the last moment.
Dandelion roots can also be cooked and incorporated into dishes or they may be roasted and ground into a powder. The roasted dandelion root powder may be added to smoothies or add to hot water to make dandelion root coffee. Looks like coffee but has its own unique taste.
Dandelions may also be dried to make refreshing teas, which may be drunk hot, cold. Try adding cooled dandelion tea to a juice or smoothie.
By harvesting and drying dandelions, you can still reap the health benefits even when the dandelion season is over.