Dandelions are some of the first flowers we see in spring. Although most people consider dandelions weeds, the plant has been used as food and medicine for hundreds of years.
This spring, trade your weed killer for a 5 gallon bucket and shovel. Harvest dandelions to make homemade dandelion tea, fresh salads and soothing lotion bars.
*DO NOT consume dandelions from areas that have been chemically treated.
How to make dandelion tea
On a recent visit to the health food store, I was shocked to see dandelion tea priced above $4 a box! If there is a supply on the market, there must be a demand, even though most of us have a supply of dandelions free and available in our backyards. Homemade dandelion tea is simple to make.
- Dig dandelions and roots.
- Cover with water and soak for several hours to loosen dirt. Drain and rinse very well.
- Chop roots, foliage and flowers in a food processor.
- Rinse with clean water.
- Spread on dehydrator trays. Dry at 125 degrees F until completely dry, 12-18 hours.
- Place tea in airtight containers. Store in pantry.
- To brew, spoon tea into a steeper or make a tea bag with coffee filter or cheesecloth. Pour hot water over dandelion tea and allow several minutes steeping.
How to make dandelion salad
Dandelions are heavy feeders. They suck iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium and other vital nutrients out of the soil, leaving little food for surrounding flora. This is bad news for your garden, and the reason why dandelions are considered an unpleasant weed. But dandelions’ hearty appetite also offers nutritional potential. The large volume of nutrients dandelions absorb transfers to you when you eat them.
The entire dandelion plant is edible: roots, flowers and foliage. Greens make the best spring salad. I toss dandelion greens with early lettuce and spinach. Dandelion greens have a slightly bitter aftertaste similar to mesclun. If their bitter taste turns you off, try young greens (before blossom) or sauté dandelion greens to reduce tang.
How to make soothing dandelion lotion bars
If you have ever broken dandelion stems and leaves and noticed the goo leaves your skin feeling silky-soft, you have witnessed their healing power first hand. Dandelions have a high level of beta-carotene to repair cellular damage. Quick fix: apply fresh dandelion foliage goo to scratches and bug bites in the field.
Supplies: dandelion blossoms, sweet almond oil, vitamin E oil, shea butter, natural beeswax pellets, greased molds (soap molds or any containers will work).
- Wash dandelion blossoms. Spread on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate 8-12 hours to remove some moisture.
- Place slightly dried dandelions in a double boiler. Cover with sweet almond oil. Add up to 1 tsp vitamin E oil.
- Fill bottom of boiler with water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cover with lid and allow the oil to infuse for about 2 hours. Oil will turn deep yellow.
- Strain oil. Discard dandelions.
- Combine 1 part infused oil, 1 part shea butter and 2 parts beeswax in double boiler. Fill bottom of boiler with water and bring to boil. Reduce heat. Stir until melted.
- Pour into greased molds. Cool completely before removing from molds.