Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring is Here, It's Dandelion Season!

All winter I wait eagerly for this day: the first day of the year that I will eat dandelions.

Many people think of dandelions as weeds and try to get them out of their yards. According to some accounts, dandelions are not native to American soil, but were purposely grown as a food crop. Things got out of hand, and they spread all over the place and now we can't get rid of them. Lucky me.

Dandelions are edible from flowertop to root.
Early in spring, before the flowers bloom, the leaves are tender and delicious. They are bitter, but not unbearably so at least to a palate not spoiled by excessive sugar and salt. I pick a few handfuls right before I prepare my salad so they are still very fresh. I make sure to avoid any areas frequented by dog walkers or the stray cats, and to be safe I clean them very well before eating them. I mix with other greens if I have them around, but dandelions make a nice salad alone. I add a bit of cheese, some onion, a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of apple cider or balsamic vinegar. Oh my. They are also delicious steamed with onion and bacon or sauteed in a bit of bacon grease.

Then comes flower season. I love the sight of all of those bright yellow blossoms studding my yard. I pick the flowers and remove as much of the greenery as I can while keeping the flowers intact. I make a basic batter, dip the flowers in top down and twirl. I pan fry them in corn oil and eat them while they are still hot. They are great with mustard, mayo or sweet chili sauce.

Dandelion roots cleaned for making
dandelion root "coffee".
Dandelion "coffee", dandelion bud soup and blossom jelly are other ideas to use this free food.

Dandelion is not just free, but it's nutritious. According to, dandelion contains 2.1 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 147 mg of calcium, 25 mg of magnesium, 18.9 mg of vitamin C, and 2.6 mg of vitamin E in just one cup of wilted dandelion leaves. The root contains vitamins A, B, C and D as well as magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, and potassium. It is used by many as a liver tonic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory.


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