I took advantage of the lovely spring weather in February and did a lot of digging. Before I start a digging session I usually go over the ground and harvest any useful “weeds” so that they don’t get trampled. One plant I seem to have been blessed with an abundance of this year is the lovely dandelion. I find it very hard to throw a single plant away.
Dandelions are especially known for their liver and kidney benefits, but there are numerous other health benefits(1) in addition to the plant’s usefulness as a pot herb.
Over the years, as well as cooking and eating dandelions, I have preserved dandelions in numerous ways:
- Dandelion leaf vinegar
- Dandelion root bitters
- Dried roots
- Dried leaves
- Dandelion root coffee
- Dandelion flower wine
- Dandelion flower essence
- Dandelion flower infused oil
The two favourites are dandelion leaf vinegar and dandelion coffee. The first time I tried the vinegar it reminded me slightly of salt and vinegar crisps and I couldn’t get enough of it.
I have found a failsafe recipe online(2) for dandelion coffee and now automatically choose this as my preferred method of preserving the roots if I have harvested enough. The only difference I make is that I chop up the roots much smaller and skip the dehydrator phase so I have a delicious beverage in less than an hour.
My steps are as follows:
- Scrub roots
- Chop in food processor
- Roast at 200°C for 30mins (turning halfway because my oven is not an even cooker)
- Return to (clean) processor
- Return to oven for 5-10 mins at 180°C
- An optional further whizz in the processor (although if it is going to be drunk from a tea infuser rather than a cafetiere, it doesn’t want to be too powdery)
I will be honest in that it is not as good tasting as real coffee, but as I am trying to reduce my caffeine intake and increase beneficial foods, it is an acceptable alternative.
Up until a week ago I had no idea that the stems were edible, I had made this assumption based on the fact I had seen the sap from the stems recommended for the treatment of warts, plus the green caylxes at the base of the stems tend to get discarded when wine making. However, I came across an article(3) which suggested using them as an alternative to noodles. This intrigued me and following a quick Google search I found references (on more than one site)(4) to the fact that all parts of the dandelion plant are edible. This is something novel that I might attempt to try next month when the flowers are blooming. I have already started collecting recipes for the flowers so it would be a shame to waste the stems.
Dandelions can cause problems if consumed in excess due to the oxalic acid content and it is a potential allergen in some people. The reference below(5) explores this in more depth.
- Such as this https://www.fix.com/blog/dandelion-health-benefits/