Foraging For Dandelions
Most are familiar with that pesky yellow weed that grows in the lawn every year. Dandelions can grow from spring through fall and are recognizable to almost all. But before you bring out the weed killer this year, consider another option: foraging.
You may not know this, but dandelions are edible and full of nutrients. If you or someone you know is interested in foraging, these are the right natural ingredients to begin on. Dandelions are some of the most abundant and recognizable foraging targets out there, which make them ideal for beginners.
Dandelions make a great plant to eat because they are incredibly nutritious. Each plant contains a massive number of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For example, one half a cup contains more calcium than a glass of milk and more iron than spinach. Dandelions also contain more vitamin A than carrots and are also a natural diuretic, which means it helps clean your body of toxins.
When harvesting dandelions, make sure to look in an area that has not been contaminated with weedkiller or pesticides. Avoid sides of roads and farmland as these areas are more likely to pick up some of these toxins along the way.
When harvesting, the three main targets are the leaves, the flower, and the roots. The leaves are the great greens to substitute into a salad. The newer leaves on the inside of the plant are sweeter while the larger and older leaves are usually more bitter. The best time for you to harvest the leaves is before the dandelion has flowered.
The flower is the sweetest part of the plant. When you pick the flower, be sure to separate it from the green base afterward. This part is quite bitter and is the last thing you want to bite into when you’re trying to enjoy the sweetest bit of the dandelion.
The roots are the most nutritious part of the plant because this is where the energy is stored in the winter months. Interestingly enough, dandelion roots can be used to make healthier versions of coffee and tea.
In our next installment, we’ll be going over some simple recipes to use with your freshly harvested dandelions! In the meantime, be sure to visit us at our Minnesota Homecooking board on Pinterest to see what dishes you can substitute dandelions into and create a unique dish of your own.
Happy foraging, friends!