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Harvesting and Eating Dandelions

Author:

Bob is a grden writer and a permaculture designer. His ebook, From My Garden, is widely available.

Dandelions


They grow everywhere or so it seems. You do not have to tend them, water them or feed them. All you need to do is appreciate them and harvest them, then enjoy them as wine, tea, in a salad or deep fried as fritters.


What I am I going on about, well dandelions, the most misunderstood and under-appreciated “weed’ in the world, well that may be a bit over the top, but you get my drift.


This is urban food foraging at its most basic. You may not even have to leave your own property to gather this most versatile plant. If you are a home owner and have a lawn, the odds are good you have a handy supply of dandelions.


Now you may have spent hours, each summer, in vain attempts to make the dandelion go away, but somehow, no matter what you do it keeps coming back.


Now you can give up the struggle and start reaping the rewards that nature has been putting in front of you for all those years and rather than doing battle, go and get some supper.


Dandelion greens are one of the season’s first edible arrivals and the ragged leaves add a distinctive appearance to the meal. They are best picked when young. Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A in the form of antioxidant carotenoid and vitamin C.


It is not necessary to be a gardener to take advantage of this useful plant. All you need is a lawn that has not been sprayed with poison in an attempt to control the weeds and it is quite likely that you will have dandelions in sufficient supply.


You can harvest the root, the flower and the green, so the whole plant, pretty much, is useful. The root can be ground and used as a coffee substitute, something like chicory, in case you are looking for something a little different in the morning.


You may find it faster to collect the dandelions if you work with at least one other person that is if you are planning to harvest the whole plant.


Have one person cut the flower and another dug out the root using a dandelion weeding tool. The tools often destroy the flowers.


Now, because dandelions are so plentiful in many lawns you can do an early harvest and take the young leaves and leave the root in the ground to grow back and then come back for the flower and root.


Or you can harvest the whole plant when young making sure to leave a few growing so that you can harvest the flowers if you want them. There are options which makes this even more fun.


So first step is to decide what you are going to use the dandelion for, salads, coffee, wine fritters and so on and then collect the plant accordingly.


If you do not have a lawn you may want to visit your neighbours and ask them if you can harvest their dandelions. Do this in early spring before the dandelion is bloom.


Tell them what you want the dandelion for and that you will remove all the dandelions from their front lawn. Unless you really love dandelion coffee or wine, there is a limit to how many plants you will need to harvest.


Friends and family many be happy to have your drop by and visit while weeding their lawn.


It is possible that people will look at you funny and whisper behind your back but hey you are getting some great exercise outdoors, providing food for the family, that costs nothing but your labour, and maybe encouraging others to step forward and stop poisoning the community and eat the weeds.


dandelions

courtesy- Per Ola Wiberg/flickr

courtesy- Per Ola Wiberg/flickr

Wild Greens

coffee

wine

Comments

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on October 13, 2011:

It does seem late indeed.

Joseph on October 13, 2011:

I saw a few flowers here in Vermont today. Shouldn't dandelions be long gone by October ?

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on August 21, 2011:

MrN got a source, it is possible but not been my experience.

MrNellie2200 on August 21, 2011:

Apparently the make you urinate a lot.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on April 14, 2010:

Here in Northern Nb they are not yet out.

Karen on April 14, 2010:

Timely article, since leaves are still tender in most climates. Many people don't realize how simple it is to substitute dandelion greens for spinach or arugula in salads and regular cooking. I just posted about this the other day!

http://thedailygrindchopandfry.com

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on April 09, 2010:

Have a good season, for more http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Dan...

Imhotep on April 09, 2010:

This is my first season harvesting dandilion and yes the young leaf is sweet and tasty. This is a short season after it flowers the leaf becomes very bitter and the flower is okay. Can the root be dried and used as a tea

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on January 02, 2010:

Thanks, too many people take plants for granted or simply ignore them. Thanks for dropping by.

BeksGardenPatch from Queensland, Australia on January 02, 2010:

Great Hub-there are so many underappreciated wonderful plants-Dandelions especially, you have brought fresh interest with a very interesting hub =)

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on December 27, 2009:

Good name, thanks for dropping by.

scourtney on December 27, 2009:

Definitely a keeper article, thanks for writing! I remember seeing people in France along roadsides collecting basket fulls of dandelions. The French call them Pissenlit (English = pee the bed) since they are a diuretic..LOL!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on April 23, 2009:

It sounds like a good time, enjoy.

Hoggy on April 23, 2009:

We live in Ohio and they have a dandelion festival every year in Dover, OH. It is the first weekend in May. This will be our first year going. Supposedly there will be all kinds of food there made from dandelions and of course the Wine :) which I like. I have also had the dandelion jelly which was very good also. Looking forward to it.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on March 20, 2009:

Thanks, the dandelion is a perfect plant it provides so much and asks so little.

Mayra Mejia on March 20, 2009:

Great hub Bob! Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. And dandelion are used as a natural diuretic.  

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on July 01, 2008:

Thanks Peter, stinging nettle surprises many people.

Pete Michner from Virginia on June 30, 2008:

Very interesting article! I also found "List of beneficial weeds" on Wikipedia and was surprised to see stinging nettle in the edible category :)

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 30, 2008:

Thanks, the tomato is a member of the nightshade family and the famly rep, rubbed off.

Debra Allen from West By God on June 30, 2008:

Great Hub! Did you all know that the Tomatoe was considered a weed and they used to pick it out of the garden and throw it away! The things you learn by reading! I never ate Dandelions, but am going to have to give them a try!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 30, 2008:

thanks for the all the comments, young would be before flower and when the stem si just growing, maybe 3-4 inch leaves.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 30, 2008:

thanks for the all the comments, young would be before flower and when the stem si just growing, maybe 3-4 inch leaves.

Rob Jundt from Midwest USA on June 30, 2008:

We ate some dandelion greens back in the day at scout camp survival training. I really didn't care for them much, but maybe my palate has changed a bit. We'll see. Nevertheless, I have a saying around our house that says the only living things able to survice nuclear war are roaches, crabgrass, and dandelions. I sure hope the shelled little monsters get a hankering for these soon. LOL! Great hub as usual.

GJCody from Pittsburgh on June 29, 2008:

We ate dandelions back when I was a kid and I won't tell you how long that was ...they are great. But I did not know you could eat the flower.  We ate the young ones before the flower came in bloom.  My mother always said they got tough after that.  Great in salads. 

Thank you so much for sharing and taking me back ...As times are going backwards again ...people growing gardens ...canning ....freezing and etc. ...I think it is a time to take a better look again at FREE. 

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on June 29, 2008:

I think I better check the local name for dandelions. :)

Isabella Snow on June 29, 2008:

Wow, I didn't know people ate these. Interesting!!

Shadesbreath from California on June 28, 2008:

This is great. Thanks for writing it. I only have one question... how do you know if it's young or whatever? If it doesn't have the yellow flower on it, I won't even know if it's a dandilion. How small are we talking here?

Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on June 28, 2008:

Bob, we think alike on this excellent herb and salad plant because I included dandelions in my thread on foraging here:

https://hubpages.com/hub/Free-foods-and-herbal-med...

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on June 28, 2008:

Great hub as always Bob!

regards Zsuzsy

Jerry G2 from Cedar Rapids, IA on June 28, 2008:

Great hub. I am personally a huge fan of dandelion wine. When it's made right, that brew is almost impossible to beat!

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on June 28, 2008:

Great ideas for dandelions and the fritters sound great! Thanks for the great hub!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 27, 2008:

Thanks for the comments, getting paid to pick a bonus; thanks C,S, for the testimony

cgull8m from North Carolina on June 27, 2008:

I would love to try this someday. One day my neighbor's kid plucked all the weed flowers, they looked incredible, so many colors in them.

kerryg from USA on June 27, 2008:

Very interesting! My mom used to pay us $0.01 per dandelion head we picked when we were little kids, because we don't do herbicides and we lived, at that time, in a suburban neighborhood that looked askance on them. It was a nice little addition to my college fund. :)

C.S.Alexis from NW Indiana on June 27, 2008:

Bob,

This was a rabbit out of the hat. Good write and I am here to tell you that deep fried dandelion flowers are excellent. Been eating them for years. Glad you shared this one! C.S.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 27, 2008:

the dandelions will come back and thanks for the comments.

cvaughn570 on June 27, 2008:

Very interesting. I never dreamed that these we were able to harvest Dandelions as food. Thank you for keeping us informed.

Dottie1 from MA, USA on June 27, 2008:

Now you write this hub! For 20 years my yard has been loaded with dandelions. This spring I killed the suckers. Who knew! Well anyway, now I know and I'm sure the dandelions will be back in the spring. Great informative hub Bob.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 27, 2008:

Only pick the young leaves the older ones, bigger, can be bitter.

rmr from Livonia, MI on June 27, 2008:

I've never eaten them. I do remember picking them by the bushel, for my grandfather's dandelion wine (which I was also known to sneak the occasional taste of, when no one was looking). They do seem to abound in my yard, so perhaps I'll try some greens.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 27, 2008:

Dandelions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dandelion

Thanks for the all kind words, there are many other edible foods out there, not all are tasty but will sustain you, the dandelion greens when young are quite good unless iceberg lettuce is your favourite. The fritters were delicious, I do not like the coffee and the wine is too sweet for my taste but other than that, yum.

In The Doghouse from California on June 27, 2008:

Bob,

I guess if you are hungry anything might taste good, but really now... are they nasty tasting?

stevemark122000 from Southern California on June 27, 2008:

Nice Job Bob! I've learned some great new uses for Dandelion.

marisuewrites from USA on June 27, 2008:

Wow, again, I learn so much from you!! Thanks Bob, I go to harvest...

Marlene_OnTheWall from Singapore on June 27, 2008:

Another really good hub, Bob. Very informative -- I never knew you could do so much with dandelions.

Christopher James Stone from Whitstable, UK on June 27, 2008:

Excellent hub. If only we all paid more attention to the free food supplies growing all around us.

Trsmd from India on June 27, 2008:

What is Dandelions?

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