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I am honored and excited to tell you that today’s foraging post is brought to us by the extraordinary Sara at PolkaDots & Plaid Blog. A woman dedicated to the simple country life and sharing her rustic adventures. Be sure to check out her blog for more tales of the simple joys in life.
Herbs and plants have an interesting way of evoking strong memories. Lavender reminds me of my mom, whereas chamomile is inextricably linked to my Maw Maw. Do you have an herb or plant that reminds you of someone? Tell US a story below in the comments and share your experience.
When going over the details of our Foraging: a 28-Day Comprehensive Guide for the Modern Pioneer, Sara had an immediate connection to Dandelions. …I’ll let her tell the story ==>
Foraging for Dandelions
We have unfortunately classified dandelions as a weed, instead of the SECRET super food that they are. Yes, you read correctly, I said super food! I very fondly remember my Grandma making us fried dandelion flowers when we were young. I recall them tasting very similar to fried mushrooms the way she did them. If you are seeking to find a nutritious food that you can forage in abundance, dandelions should be at the top of your list. Despite their typical look and small size, dandelions pack a HUGE nutritional punch, and are very versatile, as you will see throughout this post. They are also simple to use/cook with AND loaded with essential vitamins that we all need to maintain a healthy life.
Where to Forage Dandelions
Dandelions can be found in all locations of the northern temperate zone. They grow best in areas that are sunny and moist. Dandelions are likely native to Asia and Europe, but can also be found in Turkey, Italy, Poland, India, and the United States. Since they grow well in a lot of different places and the seeds are easily dispersed by the wind, they are not easily controlled once they are established. This is GREAT for those of us who want to forage them for food and drink!
To maintain the healthiest lifestyle, it would be best to forage dandelions away from places where they use chemicals on fields or the like. I know sometimes this is not an option, but try to stay away from as many chemicals as possible. Gardens, forests, or other secluded areas are best for foraging. If dandelions are in abundance in your yard (as they are mine) and you are not treating your yard or surrounded by chemicals, these would be okay to forage.
When to Forage Dandelions
You can find dandelions throughout the warm months of the year where they grow. However, it is best to forage in the early spring or early fall. This will give you the least bitter dandelion greens if you are using the greens. You can blanch the greens (twice is good) if you plan to use them in salads, smoothies or the like. This will take out some of the bitter flavor that dandelion greens are known for. I foraged some greens for a salad not too long ago, and they were a little bitter for my taste. I did not blanch them so I plan to do that when using the greens in a salad next time. Also, it was a bit late to use the greens (due to that bitter flavor), but you can still use them anytime if that doesn’t bother you.
How to Use Dandelions
Surprisingly, there are many great uses for dandelions both as food and drink! You can use the greens raw in your salad or smoothie, or use them any way that you would use other greens such as spinach or chard. As I noted earlier, it is a good idea to blanch your greens if you want to get rid of some of the bitter flavor (especially if you are foraging them any other time besides early spring or early fall). You can blanch them twice if you prefer. Regina at The Kitchn shows us 10 interesting ways you can use dandelion greens in your cooking. Check out her incredible list HERE! I love that there are so many uses for these “weeds” that offer so many health benefits and tasty options.
Dandelion Coffee, Anyone?
Another interesting way dandelions can be used is as a coffee substitute! #WIN!! In order to do this, you actually use the roots! You can see how to make Dandelion Root Coffee simply, here at Wild Blessings. I have not personally made or tried Dandelion Root Coffee, but after reading how simple it is and how much it tastes like coffee, I will be giving this a try soon! Not only is it healthy, but a great excuse to go pull some of those dandelions out by the roots. DOUBLE WIN! HA!
Frying the opened flowers of the dandelions is a great way to use them. As I mentioned before, I recall my Grandma doing this when I was a child. I LOVE mushrooms, and since dandelion flowers have a similar taste when fried, they are considered tasty in my book! These are a great little appetizer, used as a salad topper, or just as a healthy snack. The Daily Spud, has a great recipe to try if you plan to fry up some dandelion flowers. There is also a great recipe there to try if you are interested in making some dandelion tea, which is also another great use for the dandelion. I like tea, so I think I’ll be giving that a try soon as well. What a great way to get some more vitamins into your diet through foraging for dandelions.
Benefits of Eating/Drinking Dandelions
There are many health benefits of eating and/or drinking dandelions. They are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium, and fiber, along with other essential vitamins. Consuming dandelions can produce many health benefits in these areas: bone health, liver disorders, diabetes, urinary disorders, skin care, acne, weight loss, cancer, jaundice, gall bladder disorders, constipation, anemia, and high blood pressure, just to name some. Dandelions contain the vitamins listed above, plus antioxidants (cancer-fighting) like luteolin. They are also natural diuretics, which can help with many issues as well. The sap of the dandelions is highly alkaline and has germicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal properties. This has proven to be great for use in skin care. Please note, you should be careful while using this sap though, and avoid any contact with the eyes.
Dandelions contain the vitamins listed above, plus antioxidants (cancer-fighting) like luteolin. They are also natural diuretics, which can help with many issues as well. The sap of the dandelions is highly alkaline and has germicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal properties. This has proven to be great for use in skin care. Please note, you should be careful when using the sap and avoid any contact with the eyes.
Word of Caution
Dandelions can be helpful to diabetics by lowering blood sugar, but for patients already taking blood-sugar modulators, this can result in hypoglycemia, an equally dangerous condition. Consult your doctor before adding dandelion supplements in addition to your normal treatment.
The milk sap of dandelions has been known to cause itchiness, irritation, or allergic reactions on the skin, and should be kept away from the eyes. Finally, there is a rare type of fiber in dandelions called inulin, and some people have a predisposed sensitivity or allergy to it which can be quite severe. When first adding dandelion greens to your diet in any way, start small and closely monitor your body’s response.
Dandelion Foraging Summary
I hope that I have opened your eyes to something new today regarding dandelions. They are not just “weeds” that you need to get rid of in your yard. They actually have a high content of vitamins that can be very healthy for you. Along with many benefits, they can aid in fighting cancer, acne, diabetes, and many other issues.
There is a pretty plentiful supply in many areas of Dandelions, making them a GREAT option for foraging. The flowers are great for frying like you would a mushroom and taste very similar. This makes for a healthy tasty treat anytime. Along with that, the roots and leaves can be used to make a coffee substitute, and also used in smoothies or salads (to name just a few things). Dandelions have so much untapped potential. I hope you will dive in and take a look at some ways that you can use dandelions to make your life better!
Dandelion Products that will change your life!
My name is Sara Bryant. I am the author & owner of Polkadots & Plaid, a blog about my family’s simple country life. I love Jesus. Wife to Owen & mom to Joy, our rainbow baby girl. My hobbies include: spending time with my family, traveling, cooking, crafts, and shopping (to name just a few things…). I am honored to be sharing a guest post for Hannah about foraging for Dandelions. They are such an underrated flower that can be used in so many beneficial ways for our health as food, drink, and even skin care. Please drop by my blog at www.dotsandplaid.com and say “hello” anytime. I would love to hear from you!
Forage Like a Boss
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