Many people consider the dandelion to be a nuisance weed, but for me, they bring back childhood memories. Dandelions were the first sign of spring and lasted all through the summer. As children, JoAnne and I would play for hours outside, and one of the many games we played involved picking and playing with dandelions. We enjoyed popping the heads off of them while singing “Mama had a baby and it’s head POPPED off!” (I am not sure if all kids have this sick sense of humor, or just us). It was magical to pick them when they were going to seed and blow on them while making a wish or simply twirl them in the wind. Maybe we instinctively knew as children that dandelions have been used for ages to make wishes and tell fortunes.
This spring, I decided to do a little front yard foraging for dandelions :-). Since my front yard is full of them, I am sure my neighbors think I am either too cheap or too poor to spray my lawn. They were probably impressed to see me out there with a screwdriver popping up the dandelions in an effort to rid them from my lawn. Little did they know, I was planning on some creamed dandelion soup and drying dandelion root for tea. When we were children, JoAnne and I would collect the dandelion flower head, bread them and deep fry them (unsupervised I might add!). Again, maybe we instinctively knew that dandelions contain an impressive list of nutrients (or maybe we were just hungry!). The leaves are high in vitamins and minerals including Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and vitamins A, B and C. Dandelion is higher in vitamin A than any other garden plant. Roots contain inulin, mucilage, latex resin, and teraxacin.
This is the beginning stages of my dandelion soup. I linked to the recipe that I used above. I did not have carrots, so I substituted yellow squash. After simmering, adding cream and blending, I thought it was quite tasty and it felt good to know I was taking advantage of a seasonal treat while also getting nutrients I would not normally get.
I read that the dry root tea is nutritive, good for digestion and detoxifying, so I strung some up to dry with my witch’s ball (It made me feel “witchy”) The root medicinal properties vary a little from season to season. In spring, they are more bitter and have optimal medicine as a digestive stimulant. In the fall, they are sweeter and higher in a carbohydrate called inulin, which is excellent for diabetics.
To dry dandelion roots, dig up in spring through fall. Wash thoroughly. With a long piece of string, wrap each root a couple times, let out 6 inches of string and wrap another root, making a long dandelion chain. Hang until completely dry. Use clippers to cut into small pieces and store in a glass jar. Drying the roots whole prevents you from losing the white sap called inulin.
So the next time you see a dandelion, I hope you look at it as more than just a weed to get rid of. Maybe now you will even be inspired to try a recipe of your own or search the web for all of the many uses and folklore surrounding this incredible plant.
With alittle.love, judy
Photo Credit: Child blowing dandelion, naturewise.shamanicconnection.com