Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are wild, abundant, extremely nutritious, free food!
5 Tips on Harvesting Your Own Dandelion Greens for Peak Flavor
- Pick dandelion greens before the plant flowers; after flowering the greens can have a bitter flavor. Harvest dandelion greens in early spring, before the flowers appear is when they’re the tenderest and least bitter.
- After the first frost in fall is another time when dandelion greens aren’t so bitter. Boiling them will further reduce their bitterness.
- If you wish to have dandelion greens during or after they flower be sure to select only the youngest leaves as they will not be nearly as bitter.
- This recipe calls for the green leafy part of the plant. Be certain to only harvest wild plants in areas that are quite free of chemical pollution and away from roadways and parking areas.
- I prefer to pick-my-own dandelion greens because I have more control over selecting the youngest, best tasting leaves; as compared to those sold in stores, those can be bitter and the texture isn’t so good either, companies just don’t care as much about the quality of my food as I do… so, pick your own for the best [least bitter] flavor!
Dandelion leaves are a well known ‘spring tonic’, used for centuries to cleanse the liver in the springtime after a long winter of eating hard-to-digest foods. Dandelions are one of the most nutritious plants on earth, far more nutritious than all fresh foods on the produce shelf of any store. For those seeking to eat locally, healthfully, and reduce their food miles, dandelions are an excellent addition to the kitchen and diet.
Foraging: Picking the Correct Plant
When foraging for your own wild foods it’s extremely important that you correctly identify the plant. The fact is, some plants can look like others to the novice. For instance, in the Southeast USA there’s a plant called False Dandelion (Pyrrhopappus carolinianus); note the Latin name, it’s completely different than Taraxacum officinale because it’s a different species. Here’s a link to False Dandelion and Common Dandelion (the plant described in this article for eating). Here’s another example, Asiatic Hawksbeard (Youngia japonica).
A good field guide for those new to identifying free wild foods is: Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Sauteed Dandelion Greens Recipe
- 1 pound dandelion greens
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 whole small dried hot chili pepper, seeds removed, crushed
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- salt and pepper
- Parmesan cheese (grated)
Wash dandelion greens well in salted water and cut leaves into 2-inch pieces.
Cook dandelion greens uncovered in small amount of salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Note: the addition of using salt water will cut some of the bitterness.
Sauté onion, garlic, and chili pepper in coconut oil.
Drain greens from the salt water if any water remains; add to onion garlic mixture.
Taste dandelion greens and season with salt and pepper.
Serve dandelion greens with grated Parmesan cheese.
Dandelion Greens: Free food, High in Nutrition
The Mayo Clinic suggests using dandelion leaves as a healthy alternative to iceberg lettuce in salads and sandwiches.
Scientists have found weeds can be good for your physical health. The University of Maryland Medical Center research found dandelions to be rich in vitamins A, B, C and E, and provide minerals such as iron, potassium and zinc.
University of Maryland Medical Center, dandelion roots and leaves have been used throughout the centuries to treat a variety of ailments. They’ve been used in traditional medicine to treat liver problems. Europeans used the plants to treat fever, boils, diarrhea, diabetes and eye problems. Native Americans used the plants to treat kidney disease, skin problems, heartburn and swelling. In China, the plants have been used to treat appendicitis and help breast-feeding mothers with their milk flow. Today, dandelion leaves are most commonly used as a natural diuretic to help the body get rid of excess water from bloating or swelling.
Nutrition Facts per One Cup Serving of Dandelion Leaves
Vitamin A – 5588 IU
Vitamin C – 19.3 mg
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol) – 1.9 mg
Vitamin K – 428 mcg
Thiamin – 0.4 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.1 mg
Folate – 14.9 mcg
Choline – 19.4 mg
Calcium – 103 mg
Iron – 1.7 mg
Phosphorus – 36.3 mg
Potassium – 218 mg
Sodium – 41.8 mg
Zinc – 0.2 mg
Copper – 0.1 mg
Manganese – 0.2 mg
Selenium 0.3 mg
Cholesterol – 0.0 mg
Omega 3 fatty acids – 24.2 mg
Omega 6 fatty acids – 144 mg
Protein – 1.5 g
Total Carbohydrates – 5.1 g
Dietary Fiber – 1.9 g
Eating Wild Food Safety
The University of Maryland Medical Center says that dandelion is generally considered safe, but rarely it may cause an upset stomach, diarrhea or allergic reaction. Dandelion leaves are generally considered safe, but some who have allergies to plants such as ragweed, marigolds and daisies should avoid dandelions because of the potential risk of allergic reactions. Dandelions may cause heartburn and increase stomach acid in some individuals, and the University of Maryland Medical Center notes that people with gallbladder problems and gallstones should talk to their doctors before eating dandelions. In addition, dandelions may interact with some prescription medications. Talk to your doctor before using if you are on medications such as lithium, quinolone antibiotics and antacids.
Articles on Dandelion and Other Wild Delectable’s
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