These precious bright bursts of sunshine have a pretty bad rep as an annoying weed to be destroyed. But dandelions are in fact beautiful and nutritious, nutrient dense, wild plants that contain more vitamins and minerals than many of the foods we eat! In Dandelions 101 we will cover their health benefits & uses. Including some tasty recipes.
It’s often the case that the thing right under our noses, that we ignore and dismiss, is the very thing we should be paying attention to…
Dandelion is one of the most useful medicinal plants & is both safe and effective for everyday use. In your Dandelions 101 guide I’ll walk you through all of their properties & uses. Including some simple recipes and herbal remedies.
Last year I created a foraging guide per season. But this year I wanted to go into more detail about some of my favourite wild plants and all their capabilities. If you want you can still get access to all the Foraging Guides.
Now lets get into Dandelions 101:
Dandelion myths & folklore
The first recorded use of dandelion was in the 10th century. It’s name comes from the French dent de lion meaning lions tooth. Due to the shape of its leaves.
Folklore says that blowing the seeds off a dandelion is said to carry your thoughts and dreams to your loved one. It has also been told that you can tell the time with a dandelion. The number of breaths it take a to blow off all the seeds = the hour of the day.
Your common dandelion has even been written about in literature, fairytales and poetry.
Because the humble dandelion has so many positive health benefits there have been a lot of positive positive myths surrounding them. They are considered symbols of hope, summer, childhood, and woven into a wedding bouquet they are said to bring good luck.
Because dandelions are so full of nutrients they have many, many health benefits. Its leaves are high in potassium and are a potent diuretic. Meaning they help your body detox naturally through your kidneys and urine and increase the amount you pee. This makes them good for treating water retention, high blood pressure, and swollen ankles.
The dandelion roots are bitter to taste. Bitter herbs such as dandelion root are good to stimulate your liver and will work to release enzymes through your digestive tract & expel them via your stool.
Dandelion flowers are sweet, and can be used for skin conditions amongst other things. You can use them to treat and relieve acne as well as eczema and psoriasis. They also make a wonderful skin healing oil infusion.
Foraging for Dandelions 101
Dandelions grow pretty much all year round, but start flowering from March. The same plant can flower more than once throughout the year.
Dandelions thrive in grassy places. As you will know from them sprouting up in your lawn! Meadows waste ground and grass verges are all good places to find them too.
Roots of the dandelion plants are best harvested in either early spring or autumn when the plant is dormant and all its nutrients are still stored in the root.￼￼
To get the best of the plant, fresh leaves are the most potent.
Flowers and leaves can be picked all throughout March to November.
Wear gloves well you are harvesting to avoid the sap staining your skin.
Make sure to forage in areas that you are sure won’t have been contaminated with pesticides or weedkillers!￼
Using your Dandelion Root, Leaves & Flowers
Once you have collected enough of the plant you can start making things. You can use all parts of the dandelion plant – roots, leaves, and flowers.
Infused oils can be made into salves, soaps, and balms, they can be used in baking, for making pesto… In fact you can simply use the fresh leaves and flowers to eat in salads or sauteed as you would fresh spinach leaves and eaten in any recipe you fancy.
Making teas (or infusions as they are known herbally) is your easiest option for using dandelion. Flowers and leaves can be dried. Once dried the plants can be kept for a long time. Take 1-2 teaspoons of the dried plants in a cup, pour over your hot water & leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Then drink.
Making time: dry for 2 weeks or so. Once dried 10-15 mins infusion time.
While making tinctures is more advanced herbalism it is not impossible. However I will not go into details here. If you are more advanced in your herbal learning you can search out the method on your own. Tincture making can take a few weeks to a month. But the mixture produced in more concentrate, and that means you can take a smaller amount. Tinctures can be made from both dry and fresh plant.
Making time: 2 weeks to 1 month.
Dandelion honey is yummy and really simple to make. Dandelion flowers can be heated in water, combined with sugar and lemon juice and the resulting dandelion honey drizzled on yogurt, desserts, used to sweeten your tea and coffee, or taken by the spoonful.
Making time: 2-3 hours.
Dandelion wine is light and delicious, but takes a little time and commitment. Your dandelion flowers are soaked overnight in water, strained, then mixed fruits, sugar water, and wine yeast added to your dandelion infused liquid. This mixture needs to be left for 15 days, then, with a few final steps you can strain and drink.
Making time: 15 days. Plus a couple of hours either side.
Recipe for dandelion Shortbread
This recipe is for the dandelion flowers, which you need to separate from their green parts. Here’s the ingredients you’ll need and how to make them:
.128g of butter, softened
.64g of coconut sugar
.128g dandelion petals
.250g of oat flour
.pinch of salt (optional)
1.Heat oven to 165c
2.Mix butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3.Add in your dandelion petals and beat to incorporate.
4.Gradually add in your flour, beat to incorporate fully. The dough will be crumbly at first, but will start to come together as you go.
5.Once all the flour in added keep beating for another minute or so, then knead gently with your hands until the dough comes together.
6.Roll out the dough and cut out your cookies with a cookie cutter.
7.Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until cookies begin to brown on their bottom & look fully cooked on top.
8.Remove and allow to cool on a cooling rack before eating.