For the first time ever I woke up really fancying eating a dandelion. I think it came from seeing thousands of dandelions in a field yesterday and thinking, gee, if that was chocolate wouldn’t the world be good.
I did check out first if I might die eating dandelions. We are brought up believing that dandelions are BAD. They mess up the lawn, you wage war on them, you POISON them. But I want to redress the balance a bit, and tell the beautiful story of the entirely EDIBLE dandelion.
In France they are called dent de lion (teeth of lions), or round where we live, pis en lit, ‘pee the beds’. That’s because they are a diuretic so they can make you (if you eat loads), literally, pee the bed.
The dandelion is a native of Greece and is part of the sunflower family. There are about 100 species.
There are a couple of hundred individual seed pods called achenes in each “fairy”, each with their very own fluffy tuft to catch the wind and carry it further. Is this a dandelion too? It was massive and we camped beside loads of them in Greece.
The dandelion’s Latin name, taraxacum officinale, is likely to have come from the Greek words taraxos and akos meaning disorder and remedy. Their nutritional and medicinal qualities have been known about for hundreds of years. Our generation has, however, introduced it to RoundUp and see it more as a weed than the amazing wee plant it is. It’s ironic that the biggest (and one of the nastiest) weed killers is made by one of our biggest (and one of the nastiest) fruit, veg and cereal “manufacturers”, the lovely Monsanto.
So what’s so good about dandelion? Each part from the petals to the leaves, to the roots, to the milky liquid in the stems all have medicinal properties.
Here are just some of the things the humble dandelion can help with:
high blood pressure
You can make wine from them, eat the petals in a salad (the green bit can be a little bitter unless very young), or you can cook the whole flowers. The flowers contain antioxidants which is the good stuff. Here are a couple of recipes:
Wash and lay the flowers out to dry. Make a batter with a cup of plain flour (I added a spoonful of cornflour too), a cup of water, an egg, and if you want sweet, some honey or sugar.
Dip the whole head in batter and add to a medium hot frying pan, when golden flip over and squash down a bit to make pretty round flower pancakes. Dust with icing sugar if you want. They can be savoury with salt and pepper too, deep fried.
When I took some over to the neighbour, he gave me the recipe for dandelion honey (our neighbour just know everything about everything when it comes to foraging or mushrooms – he’s great).
Add about 120 washed flower heads (green bit cut off – doesn’t matter if some goes in) to a pan. Add 3 cups water and bring to the boil for a minute. Cover and leave overnight.
Next day, at 2.5 cups sugar, and melt it slowly on low heat. Once melted, bring to the boil and keep on the boil until it thickens. Fill a jar whilst it’s still hot. I let it thicken WAY too much and I ended up with boiled sweeties. Which were nice anyway. Will need to try again tomorrow.
Here are links to some more recipes:
What’s your favourite recipe? We’d love you to share it. There are so many dandelions in that field to get through.