**Have you been following A Year of Herbs? Learn more about common herbs and ways that you can use them as simple remedies in your own home.**
I joked last year about how my husband was trying to convince me to view the yearly explosion of dandelions in our yard as a "harvest season".
Ahem. Last week the members of our church small group came over to our home and my dehydrator was busily whirring away in the background. A friend asked what I had going in there. Face reddened, I admitted that I was drying dandelions.
I'm already known as the kooky, health extremist in my church. I think I just sealed my fate, and will forever be known as "the one who eats all sorts of really weird stuff".
What are the benefits of dandelions?
They are nutritive.
This is a fancy way of saying that they have lots of great nutrients in them, such as beta-carotene, Vitamins C, E and K, as well as many B vitamins (1, 2, 6, 12), and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur and zinc. They may also contain vital trace minerals such as copper, cobalt, boron and molybdenum.
They have many uses in natural healing.
- Supporting liver and gallbladder function
- Cleansing the bloodstream
- Can be used as a diuretic (for fluid retention)
- Aids in digestion, and the function of the pancreas, spleen and stomach
- Helpful for skin disorders, including eczema and acne
- May help to protect from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and diabetes
- High iron levels are useful for treating anemia
- Aid in bowel function, and can be equally useful for both constipation and diarrhea
- White sap from root/stem may be used as a topical remedy for warts
- Can provide relief from menstrual cramps and menopause symptoms
They are abundant and free!
Never thought you would be happy to see them rear their yellow heads each spring? Now you can enjoy going out to your yard and picking them with relish. Instant weed control AND a way to gather medicinal herbs, all in one. Beautiful, right?
Foraging for wild foods like dandelions is definitely a frugal food option and a valuable way to add a nutrient-dense ingredient to your kitchen.
How to use dandelions
I am not yet an expert as this is my first year to actually take advantage of the harvest right outside my back door. So far, I have dried many leaves for the purpose of using in homemade herbal teas.
- Use fresh, tender, spring leaves in salads
- Fresh leaves can also be used in juicing (minimally, though, as they do have a diuretic effect- add a small handful of leaves in with other fruits and veggies)
- Steam or saute them
- Dry them to use in teas
- Dandelion Flower Fritters (this looks so interesting, I think my kids will love these!)
- Dandelion Wine (I discovered this last year in The Backyard Homestead)
- Easy Dandelion Flower Cookies (pictured above- image from this recipe)
- Dandelion Jelly
- Fresh in salads
The main trick is to make sure you pull off just the flower and not any of the green stem, because that is where the bitterness begins. If you pop off just the flower top, there should be no bitter taste.
- Harvest in fall (try to find large, well-established plants). Roots can be dried and roasted then ground up to be used as a coffee substitute. They are a common ingredient in many herbal/grain coffee substitutes in health food stores.
- Can also be boiled to make a nutritious tea
- Add them to soup broth for added nutrients