Friday, April 21, 2017

Dandelions: Free, Highly Nutritious, Abundant Food!

Dandelions are plentiful throughout most of the United States.
Dandelions are some of the first fresh greens available in the spring.
Collecting dandelions is usually very easy.
I love foraging for wild greens, especially, in the spring while I wait for my lettuce and spinach to grow.
My lettuce sprouts.

This spring I have been eating a lot of dandelions.
A bowlful of dandelion greens, while not pretty, very appetizing.
We have them all over our yard.
Dandelions all-over our yard.

I use a spade and dig up the whole plant.
Preparing the whole plant for cooking.
It is really easy. I push the spade into the dirt right at the base of the dandelion with my foot, then tilt it back. You can feel the root go, "Pop!" Then I pull the plant out, brush off the dirt and remove any bad leaves.
Discarding the less than vibrant leaves.

I like to get as much root as possible because they are so nutrient dense. I wash and pare them before cooking. I hope to learn how to prepare them for medicinal teas in the future.
Preparing dandelion roots for cooking.
When I have  harvested dandelions I throw them in a sink full of water. I add a splash of white vinegar and soak them for 20+ minutes.
Washing dandelion greens.
I swish them around to loosen up any dirt. Once washed, I cut off the root ends and chop the greens. I discard any opened up flowers. They are to fuzzy for my liking. But, I keep the closed buds. They are pretty tasty.
Chopped dandelion greens.
I bring a large pot of water to a boil. When it comes to a boil I throw the prepared dandelions in the water. I boil them for about 5 minutes.
Boiling dandelion greens to remove the bitter compounds.
Then I pour out the water and drain the greens. This step gets rid of the bitter chemicals in the leaves. I know that it must also be diminishing the vitamins and minerals somewhat, but I can hardly tolerate the bitterness in non-boiled dandelions.
Draining the boiled dandelion greens.
After this point I like to eat the dandelion greens a number of ways. I fix them like I would spinach or other greens, sauteing them with some onions, garlic, and salt.

They make a good wilted salad with bacon grease, apple cider vinegar, and a little sugar (I have used chicken fat, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke, and molasses).
They are great in soup, also.
Dandelion soup.
Especially when combined with spring onions and some type of fish.
I made a large batch of dandelion soup with beef bone broth.
When I eat dandelion greens raw I put them into a salad with lettuce and other greens to help dilute the bitterness.
Salad with dandelion greens, narrowleaf plantain, garlic mustard greens, violet blossoms, shredded carrot, cucumber, and lettuce.
Dandelions are high in vitamin A and vitamin K. 1 cup of chopped, raw dandelion greens contains over 200% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A and over 500% of the daily recommended value of vitamin K.

Dandelion greens are also high in vitamin C, Potassium, and Iron.

Dandelions are, also, said to be very good for kidney and liver health.

If you follow this link you can read a comprehensive analysis of the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals contained in dandelions. The chart also compares dandelions side by side with kale and collard greens.

A word of caution: dandelions are a diuretic and a laxitve, so be careful about eating them in huge quantities. :)

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