Dandelions are not just edible – they are delicious! They may not look like much, but dandelions are more than a simple plant. Dandelion greens, roots, and flowers can all be eaten in a variety of ways. So read on for everything you need to know about how to eat dandelions.
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Dandelions Are Edible
The fact that dandelions are edible can be surprising for many people. For a plant that is technically a weed and considered a garden annoyance by many, it has a lot of secret potential. Throughout history, many cultures have utilized dandelion for a variety of different recipes. They even ate them back in Roman times! And now, it’s your turn to join in on the fun!
Dandelions are very nutrient-rich and can be a great addition to your healthy greens such as lettuce and spinach. They are full of calcium and antioxidants, which protect you from heart disease and other illnesses. Dandelions are also good sources of Vitamins A, K, and C which makes them great for all age groups. Add in the fact that dandelions are classified as a diuretic that can help lower blood pressure, and it is clear to see why this could be your next favorite superfood!
To sweeten the deal, every single part of the dandelion is edible. The leaves, roots, and even the flowers and petals can all be prepared in so many ways. Each part of the dandelion plant can be utilized for different recipes and benefits. Consider it a blessing when these tenacious little plants pop up in your yard; they present the ability to connect to centuries of tradition surrounding consuming the common dandelion.
What Do Dandelions Taste Like?
Now that you know dandelion is edible, a common question is what does dandelion taste like? It’s natural to want to know more about the end taste before you embark on your journey of preparing your first dandelion dish.
Dandelions are broken into three categories: greens, flowers, and roots. Each part has a different taste that I will be breaking down for you.
The Taste of Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens are very popular for their freshness and ability to be easily added to a dish as a topping or in a salad. People describe the taste of dandelion greens as earthy and somewhat bitter, like arugula or kale. Dandelion leaves grow more bitter with age, so if you dislike the taste then picking them young is a good idea. Just like with other bitter greens, there are recipes to cover or remove the bitter flavor. However, some people prefer it and embrace it.
The Taste of Dandelion Flowers
In contrast to the greens, dandelion flowers are mildly sweet. They have a crunchy texture and can be battered, fried, or mashed for jam or syrup. Dandelion wine is also possible to make, although it takes a large number of flowers. Young and tender dandelions have the sweetest flowers.
The Taste of Dandelion Roots
Dandelion roots are famous for their positive impact on the digestive system and for cleansing the body of toxins. Roots are often steeped for tea or boiled to soften. The taste is described as bitter, somewhat similar to coffee but without the aftertaste. The taste makes the roots an ideal source of tea or other slightly bitter drink, although there are many edible recipes for the roots as well.
Can You Eat Dandelion Greens Raw?
While dandelion greens are similar to other bitter greens, the question remains if they can be consumed raw. Dandelion greens can be eaten either raw or cooked.
If you are planning on foraging for dandelions then you will need to exercise a certain amount of caution. Only pick dandelions from places where you are certain there have been no pesticides or insecticides used, as these can settle into the plant easily. And stay away from places like public parks or roads, where there is a lot of both automobile, foot traffic, and visiting dogs – need I say more!
The very best place to harvest dandelions is from your own garden. Growing your own dandelion means you can be assured they are chemical-free.
Once you are sure the dandelions are clean, they can certainly be eaten raw.
Salads and sandwiches are some of the most popular ways to eat raw dandelion greens. Separate the greens from the flowers and the roots after the leaves have been thoroughly washed. Then chop them up or mix them into a garden salad.
The slightly bitter flavor of dandelion greens can be a bit overpowering at times coming from a wildflower. So keep that in mind before consuming large amounts until you are sure you like the taste of the raw dandelion greens.
How Do You Prepare Dandelions to Eat?
- To prepare your dandelions for eating, make sure they are from a clean area and wash them thoroughly in cold water.
- Next, you can prepare your dandelions to cook by separating them into their three main sections: greens, flowers, and roots.
- You can remove the head of the dandelion at the base and set the flowers aside in a separate bowl. The area of the dandelion that will require the most care is the root, as they will have been plucked from underground and will be dirtier.
- Cut off the roots from the green of the dandelion with scissors or a sharp knife, and proceed to soak them in water. Remove them and rub them gently with a paper towel to remove the water and dirt. Repeat this soaking and rubbing process, replacing the water each time, until the roots are completely clean.
- Like the root, greens and flowers must be washed thoroughly. Soak them rather than use running water to avoid damaging the petals and leaves.
- Clean the leaves in a similar process to the roots.
This is the main process of preparation. Afterwards, you can cut the roots and leaves into smaller pieces to be more manageable for cooking.
How to Eat Dandelions
Of course, the most exciting part of eating dandelions is trying out new ways to cook them! We will go through some delicious recipes and experiences for each part of the dandelion plant.
How to Eat Dandelion Flowers
As mentioned, dandelion flowers have a sweeter taste and crunchy texture. A popular way to eat dandelion flowers is to batter and fry them.
You might like to try this recipe here for Fried dandelion blossoms. The batter is made like any other, consisting of eggs, milk and flour. You can use a deep fryer or fry in a pot of oil until lightly browned. It’s a fast and delicious treat!
Keep in mind that for things like syrup and jam, you’ll need large quantities of flowers. It’s a good activity for a reunion or picnic with lots of people to help harvest.
How to Eat Dandelion Greens
The bitter dandelion green is typically paired well with salads or as a side dish to more hearty fare. To combat the bitterness, many recipes recommend boiling the greens until tender in lightly salted water. Dandelion greens are excellent when sauteed like this recipe with olive oil, and other add-ins like garlic and onions.
Dandelion greens also go well raw in a salad or as a topping on a sandwich after being thoroughly washed – no cooking required! You can also try your hand at using dandelion greens to add a special kick to pesto like in this recipe. It’s truly a versatile ingredient for most any dish.
How to Eat Dandelion Roots:
Dandelion roots are excellent ways to try out new tea and coffee recipes. Many people who practice detoxing or cleansing can’t get enough of dandelion root. Some tea recipes such as this one, recommend roasting the roots in the oven before chopping and crushing them with a tea infuser. Steep into a tea with a variety of flavor combinations like mint and honey.
Roots can be used to make coffee such as in this recipe as well, with a similar technique including roasting and grinding the roots before making them into your dandelion coffee.
When it comes to cooking and trying new things, dandelions are an adventure! Each time dandelions come back for the season you can experiment with a variety of recipes and techniques.
Dandelions have an undeserved reputation, especially when they are so full of nutrients and flavor. Don’t be afraid to spread the news about dandelions to your fellow gardeners – the more you have to help harvest, the merrier! Whether you grow them, forage yourself or head to the store, get ready to add dandelions to your diet.
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