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In Season

What Can I Do With Dandelions?

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Dandelions are usually thought of as a weed that must be eliminated. But that’s not the case these days. These yellow blossoms and leaves happen to be edible and are in fact, very nutritious. But that being said, you must be careful where you pick your dandelions to eat. You need to make sure they weren’t sprayed with any pesticides or chemicals or you need to buy them from a very reliable source. Many of these plants are sprayed with a toxin, because most folks are trying to kill them like all other weeds. So be certain that your dandelions are not foraged from public places or friend’s yards without confirming that they have not been treated.

There are many ways to use dandelions to reap their benefits. Some recipes call for just the blossoms, while others just the leaves. Be sure to remove the sepals at the base before eating or cooking with the blossoms, as they taste bitter. Many cooks love the bitter, unique flavor that the green leaves provide. Dandelions are full of important vitamins and minerals including B complex, vitamins A, D and C, potassium, zinc and iron.

What can I do with dandelions?

Dandelions greens can be eaten raw as a beautiful salad. Most people mix them in with different lettuces because of the bitter flavor. Saute' them with olive oil, garlic and other ingredients for a warm side dish. You can also use them to make a great dandelion pesto. The most popular pesto is made with basil, but dandelion greens add a unique flavor twist. You can either use nuts, like in the traditional recipes, or replace the nuts with sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Dandelion root coffee is becoming more popular. This is made with the roots of the dandelion plant. The roots are washed, rough chopped and then dried. After that they are chopped small and roasted in a low temperature oven. After they’ve cooled, the root is finely ground and roasted a second time. Now they are ready to use to brew dandelion root coffee. Some of the benefits of drinking this beverage are reduced caffeine consumption, flushing toxins to improve gall bladder function, promote digestion with a gentle laxative effect, and they act as a diuretic by increasing urine production.

Wine can even be made from dandelions. Only the yellow petals are used the make wine. If the greens are used here, they will ruin the fermentation process, the wine will be bitter and you probably wouldn’t like the flavor. These wines are usually flavored with citrus and something sweet like raisins.

Dandelion jelly is another tasty treat. The jelly is also made with just the yellow petals. The petals are first steeped into a tea, then sugar, lemon juice and pectin are added. It’s a very simple process.

If you don't have access to "safe" dandelions, you can purchase them from Digger Jays Wild Edibles, located in the Shenandoah Valley. They are all grown locally and hand harvested. Their wild edibles are natural and not treated with herbicides.

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