I’m sitting at the computer this morning snacking on crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth delicious, dandelion leaves. In fact, dandelions are pretty much the only greens available in my garden in mid May. Yesterday I gathered fresh dandelion leaves, from plants that had not yet flowered. I prepared them by massaging a coconut oil, lemon – poppy seed dressing into the leaves, then I dried them in my dehydrator, as you would when making Kale chips. Now they are a melt-in-your-mouth delicious and highly nutritious snack.
Dandelion, an herb you should know
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a powerful diuretic. It stimulates kidney function, and is one of nature’s best sources of potassium. It is also one of the most beneficial general tonics. It is especially useful for cleansing the liver and gall bladder. It is specific for cases of congestive jaundice. It is also effective for treating muscular rheumatism. It is used in cases of fluid retention, and arthritis, as well.
Dandelion root tea for cancer treatments
You can harvest different parts of the plant throughout the whole growing season. Mild greens in early spring, flower buds a week or two later. Open flowers in mid summer, and then the root from fall through to the next spring.
The dandelion root is especially strong for improving liver and kidney function, our two most important toxin cleansing organs. Studies are being done that show its efficiency in cleansing the body of cancer cells, especially in cases of leukemia. The University of Windsor is testing Dandelion Root Tea as a possible treatment for leukemia, especially in cases where chemotherapy is not working. I wonder what would happen if leukemia patients tried the tea first, before damaging their liver and kidneys with chemotherapy and radiation. Other studies have been done on the efficacy of Dandelion root tea in the treatment of liver cancer, as well as its use in recovery from alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver. Clearly this is one herb that everyone should get to know.
All parts of the plant are used. In early spring before the flowers open, the leaves are mild and tender. Pick them for salads. Incorporate them in soups and stews. Chop them up to add to egg dishes. Coat them in herbs and spices and dehydrate them as a crunchy snack.
Snacking on Dandelions:
Like dehydrated Kale leaves, dandelion leaves are a nutritious snack food. Harvest only from clean, organic gardens. Avoid harvesting dandelions from fields where they may have been exposed to herbicides or roadside toxins.
Recipe: Dandelion Melt-in-your-mouth snack chips
Take 4 cups of washed fresh dandelion leaves, picked before the flowers open.
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
1/4 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. celtic sea salt
Soak poppy seeds in lemon juice for 2 hours. In a blender, mix poppy seeds, lemon juice, garlic, mustard and coconut oil. Blend until smooth and thickened. Pour over dandelion leaves and massage into leaves until they are well coated. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Place on dehydrator trays in a single layer. Dry on medium heat for 2 or 3 hours until dry and crisp. You can also dry this in your oven on very low heat, with the oven light on. It will take longer in an oven.
Eat this as a snack. Or crush the leaves and use as an herb, sprinkled on other foods.
Closed Dandelion Flowers
The closed flowers of the Dandelion plants are mild tasting and I’ve heard that the taste is similiar to mushrooms. They didn’t taste like that to me though. Gather the still closed flowers and saute with onions, in coconut oil. Serve in egg dishes, or as a side dish.
Open Dandelion Flowers
Gather the open flowers in the morning. The herbal goodness can be preserved as a wine or the flowers can be dried and used in tea. Some herbalists advise you to remove the green calyx before using the flowers, to lessen the bitterness of the herb. I have not found this to be necessary. Plus part of the goodness of the herb is in its bitterness. Flowers should be young and fresh, not already pollinated, or they will turn white and fluffy as they dry.
Dandelion Wine Recipe
Gather 1 gallon of young, open, dandelion flowers in the morning
In a large bucket, sterilized before hand, put the dandelion flowers. Cover with 2 gallons of boiled, still hot water. Cover the bucket with a cheese cloth and let sit for 3 days. Strain out the golden liquid. In a large pot, bring liquid to the simmer and add:
3 organic oranges, chopped, including skin, seeds, and juice
3 organic lemons, chopped, including skin, seeds, and juice
1 cup of organic raisins
6 cups of honey or white sugar
Dissolve honey or sugar completely, simmer for 30 min. Take off of heat. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Strain liquid. Add 2 packages of champagne yeast to 1 cup of liquid. Once dissolved and active, return to vat. Stir well. Add 1 package yeast nutrient and stir well. Bottle in 2 glass 1 gallon jugs. (I used glass jugs that apple cider comes in). Place wine fermentation lock. Allow to ferment for 4 weeks or until fermentation stops. Decant and bottle in clean, sterilized wine bottles. Cork. Store for 4 to 6 months before using.
This wine is a medicinal wine. Especially good for winter colds, flu, and general malaise. It is tonic, rich in vitamins, and detoxifying.
Dandelion Flower Infusion
You can also infuse the flowers in oil and use them as a skin moisturizer. Place 2 cups of freshly picked dandelion flowers in 2 cups of olive oil. Place on a sunny window sill and shake the contents once a day for 2 weeks. Use in first aid cream and skin preparations mixed with bees wax and coconut oil.
After flowering, the leaves of dandelion become bitter. They will set seed quickly, and you can start a new patch for greens by gathering the seed and planting in a prepared bed. Dandelion roots are the next part of the plant to harvest. Wait until mid to late fall, when the plants have had a season of strong sun. Pull up the plants by the roots. Cut off the tops and feed to livestock. Wash the roots carefully. Chop into 1/2 inch pieces or smaller, and dry in a dehydrator. Once dry, you can store them in a glass jar. To make tea, pour boiling water over the roots to make an infusion.
It was the Dandelion root tea that was used in the Windsor experiments for treatment of leukemia.
A coffee substitute can also be made from the dried roots. After they are dry, roast them in your oven until brown, like coffee beans but not burnt. Grind like coffee and perk.
Feeding dandelion to livestock
Livestock of all kinds love dandelions. The leaves, and young flowers are relished by chickens, goats, sheep, and rabbits. When an animal is lethargic, or weak, we will gather large handfuls of dandelion leaves and flowers at all stages of growth, and the animals often recover speedily with this being the only medicine. The plants are rich in potassium and tonic, strengthening the animals core.
Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family
Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman (find it in the used section on Amazon)
Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore
Find out more:
Learn more about herbal remedies and essential oils from an herbalist’s perspective in my new Book, The Beginners’ Book of Essential Oils, now available in paperback, in Kindle, or in a printable digital format.(pdf).