One of the more startling cultural divides between Europeans remains their respective views on the dandelion. The dandelion was brought to market in England in the 19th century when lettuce and endive were scarce, yet many still regard the plants mostly as pests and only want to kill them. Italian, French and Greeks, however, prefer to eat them.
Dandelion may be reviled by lawn manicurists but their greens are tasty things. If you like the contrast of bitter greens like rocket in your salad, take the ‘if you can’t beat them, eat them’ approach.
Toss the leaves with tender lettuces and tomatoes with a homemade dressing that’s not too sharp, add a little cheese or nuts for extra protein, or serve sautéed with a bit of olive oil and lemon, as they are served in Greece. The lipids in oil, cheese and nuts balance the bitter leaves, making a nice contrast.
Pick only the leaves of dandelions that haven’t yedt flowered, the green colouring of the dandelion leaves changes from pale lime green to a darker green as the plant ages and the older leaves will be bitter. Flowers and root are also edible.
The stems of the dandelion flower are hollow and are crowned with a single yellow flower, which after a few days turns into a ghostly globe of delicate feathery seeds or, as they're correctly called in the world of botany 'achenes'.
Like Burdock, dandelions are one of the most esteemed herbs in healing. The benefits are endless, from digestive disorders to skin complaints. The dandelion family were first mentioned in China in the Tang Materia Medica back in the 7th century and has featured in just about every herbal written throughout the world since. The leaves contain more iron than spinach and are a excellent source of vitamins. Just two fresh-picked leaves give a full day’s supply of vitamin C.
Perhaps an alliance with dandelion might be a realistic alternative to constant warfare
Sowing: Sow in Spring or Autumn at around 13 to 20°C (55 to 68°F).
You can get a head start by sowing in early spring in a cold frame or indoors. Sow the seeds on the soil surface and keep moist. Most should germinate in ten days, but germination can occasionally be erratic.
Transplant the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Use a pot deep enough to accommodate the tap root. Plant out in early summer.
Space the plants six to nine inches apart in rows twelve inches apart.
It's essential to pick the flower heads, not only to keep the plant's energy going to root and leaf production, but also to spare yourself future weeding. Your crop should be ready in 85 to 95 days.
Dandelion is a virtual pharmacological wonder, With properties to treat blood and skin disorders. A cup of dandelion root tea or coffee a day, or the consumption of the leaves, is recommended for anyone with liver complaints. Unlike pill diuretics which leach potassium from your body, dandelion supplies potassium while acting as a diuretic. The leaves are a valuable alkali for the body; they assist in the reduction of excess acid. It has been found to sooth the digestive tract, absorb toxins, help friendly flora to thrive and stem the production of unfriendly bacteria.
For more information on its use in home herbal medicine, see “Making Plant Medicine.” by Richard A. Cech ISBN: 9780970031204
The young raw leaves can be used in salads or cooked as a vegetable like spinach. Dandelion blossoms add a hot, sunny flavour to salads.
The leaves make a good tonic tea, whilst the roots make a rather nice, caffeine free coffee substitute. In Catalonia pheasant or duck is often prepared with dandelions, (el faisà o l'ànec amb queixals de vella) and in Macedonia Radíkia Me Rízi Tis Kyrías Agápis is a dish of dandelion and chicory cooked with rice and pine nuts.
Do not feed Rabbits any form of lettuce as this can make a rabbit very ill. If a rabbit goes off their food, more often than not they will eat the Dandelion leaf which will stimulate their appetite. The flower acts as a good tonic. The leaves can have a laxative affect, so feed in moderation
The root of the Dandelion gives various shades of red, while the flower will give shades of wheat and yellow.
Dandelion is the perfect partner to Burdock in that classic drink dandelion and burdock. If you’re reluctant to eat the blossoms, try the following Dandelion Cordial recipe, serving this on ice with lemon, or mix with hot water and honey to soothe coughs.
Harvest 2 to 3 cups dandelion blossoms, 2/3 cup sugar, rind of ½ lemon, 1 quart vodka. Cut off green bottoms of unwashed blossoms. Mix all ingredients and put in a jar, capping and storing in a dark place. Shake daily to dissolve sugar. After two weeks, strain through filter paper and store in a bottle with a tight fitting cap.
For a Dandelion & Burdock recipe please click Here
There are some 250 species of Taraxacum on record in the British Isles alone. Added to those are the White Flowered Dandelion (Taraxacum albidum), native to Japan, and the Japanese Dandelion (Taraxacum japonicum). There is also the Red Seeded Dandelion (Taraxacum laevigatum), which is found in places around the UK.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 1,200 Seeds Common Name Dandelion, Clockflower, Tell-The-Time, Blowball, Puffball, Priests Crown Family Asteraceae Genus Taraxacum Species officinale Hardiness Hardy Perennial Time to Sow Sow in Spring or Autumn at around 13-20°C (55-68°F). Germination Most germinate in ten days, but germination can occasionally be erratic. Time to Harvest 85 to 95 days.