One of my favorite Springtime activities is foraging for dandelions! Dandelion can be used so many different ways, from teas to salves to salads! This disrespected herb is one of the most versatile and potent “weeds” available, so let’s dig into this with “Dandelion: The Wonder Herb for the Homestead”.
I remember when we first moved to our farm 10 years ago.
Spring had just arrived, and one day, as I went out to feed and water the animals, I couldn’t believe my eyes! Across our pastures, there were thousands of gorgeous dandelions that seemed to appear overnight!
It was like a massive carpet of dandelion!
Once I caught my breath, I had to wonder what purpose all of these flowers could serve, besides being the bee’s first food in the Spring.
I like to ask myself what my grandmothers would have done, and unfortunately, both of them have passed. But surely our elders would have used these for food, medicine or both. So, I did some research.
What our grandparents knew was that dandelion is full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants!
Vitamins that are in dandelion include Vitamin A, C and K, plus minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron!
Before the days of “weed control” spraying, it was common for children to pick dandelions and bring them home to mother, to use for meals.
Where Can You Forage for Dandelion?
Dandelion, or Taraxacum Officinal, is a wild, edible and nutritious source of free food!
It’s such a shame that so many Americans go out of their way to kill as much of it as possible each Spring, especially when it holds so much healing power and nutrition!
Our grandparents harvested and ate dandelions regularly, and lucky for them at that time, very few people were using toxic chemicals on their lawns!
Today, we must give some thought to where we forage from. Wherever you acquire food, you want to make sure it’s clean and chemical-free.
Your own backyard is the best place to start because you know what is on it.
If you use herbicides and pesticides on your yard, do not forage for edibles there.
You can read the safety labels on the products you use, but I’ve got to be honest, I don’t really trust them.
Organic yard or don’t eat it.
Some parks do little or no spraying, others spray heavily.
One indication is to observe how well-groomed the property is.
Look for weeds in the grass. If you see lots of weeds, chances are that they aren’t spraying there, but do your homework.
Many rural parks have a “no spray” policy to keep it as natural as possible.
There are a number of beautiful hiking trails/parks in our town that do not spray and allow responsible foraging. Look for those in your town when foraging for dandelion.
Avoid high-traffic roadsides and parking lots when foraging.
Car exhaust can be absorbed by the entire plant, including roots, leaves and all.
However, if you can forage at least 100 feet away from a busy roadside, that would be encouraged. You won’t need to go as far on a less traveled road. Land headed uphill will be less contaminated by fumes, etc.
Look for undisturbed meadows and fields in which to forage. Always ask permission if it’s private property.
When foraging, bring a basket to carry your findings in, and at least bring a small shovel and maybe even some small clippers.
You’ll be able to pluck the part of the dandelion above the ground by hand, but if you choose to harvest the roots, you’ll be glad that you brought the shovel.
All Parts of the Plant Can Be Used
All parts of the dandelion can be used, but part will serve different purposes.
Did you know that you can use dandelion is all sorts of recipes?
One of the benefits of foraging for dandelion is the incredible nutritional benefits!
Dandelion greens nutritional value are off the charts!
Dandelion greens contain Vitamin A, Vitamin K, potassium, calcium and fiber! Greens are best harvested in the early spring, before the flowers bloom. After that, the leaves get bitter.
Greens can be used raw in salads or gently sauteed with some olive oil, salt and pepper! How easy is that?
Dandelion roots are a wonderfully gently cleanser of the liver and kidneys.
Roots are easy to consume in a coffee or tea form. Dig roots from large plants by going deep into rich soil. Scrub them well and then cut into 4″ pieces and split them lengthwise and dehydrate, using the “herbs” setting on your dehydrator.
When the roots are fully dried, you can chop them up into small pieces and make tea with them, or make your own dandelion root capsules!
There is just so much that can be done with this fabulous herb! Try a couple of ideas this year, and build on that knowledge next year when they come back into season!