Dandelions, you love ‘em or you hate ‘em. I don’t intend on changing your mind in one day, however, take the time to read this post and you may find out why those of who love them, really love them.
Dandelions, Taraxacum officinale, is most certainly an invasive species that will spring up most anywhere that it can find just enough soil to root in. It really likes to find itself in what we like to call, distrubed habitats.
These are places where the soil or other strata tend to get turned up, messed up, turned over other wise disturbed.
Dandelions, along with cattails, are what I like to refer to as nature’s little supermarket. This is because all portions of the dandelions are edible, or otherwise useful. For those that do not know or are a bit unsure of what dandelions are, here are some helpful hints to help you positively identify them.
To eat the leaves of the plant you need to harvest them in early spring before the flower comes out. If you are already seeing the flower, the leaves will be bitter. I am not saying that bitter is bad for you, bitter foods in your diet is a good thing. They will often help spur on some of the goings-on of your digestive tract.
The flowers can be harvested and eaten as well, simply help yourself out by removing the bitter, green sepals on the flower. The flower heads are quite tasty on their own.
The roots prove to be almost too bitter for this weed-eater’s palate. However, they are fibrous, so if you are looking for fiber it would be a free choice from your yard.
So how best does one go about preparing dandelions to eat? Well the obvious answer from a survival perspective is to simply eat it raw. No preparation needed. Often times when I am teaching survival classes, I take some balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. I like to gather some dandelion leaves, stalks, a flower head or two if available, and whatever other edible ‘weeds’ I can find and make a nice salad for dinner. Beyond that you can sautee’ them nicely. I have read of a not-so-few, weed-eating experts suggest dipping them in pancake batter and deep-frying them. Although that is fun and tasty, I believe it to eliminate some of the benefits of eating them, and that is certainly not a survival methodology.
So there you have it for dandelions, as far as an edible plant. We are going to do a series of edible plants for you first and then we will be doing a series on medicinal plants as well. So expect us to come back and take a look at dandelions again then. The medicinal qualities of dandelions are worth a post all their own.
Until next time. I hope to see you on, or off the trail!