Dandelions

I was eating some dandelions the other day. It wasn’t quite a whim. It’d begun with yard work.

We have lawns. We don’t pesticides or fertilizers on them, except some fertilizer from our compost barrels. We compost a lot of kitchen waste.

I used to pull the weeds from my lawn. We stopped doing that as we read about the bee decline and witnessed how the bees enjoyed our dandelions. Butterflies, too. But, for fire reasons, we cut the grass back to four inches high. That height also protects the roots so watering the lawn isn’t required often. In the even of drought or water shortages, of course, the first thing I do to save water is to stop watering the grass.

While I was doing the back yard cutting the other day, I was taking stock of all the dandelions we had. I knew that people used to eat dandelions as part of a basic diet and wondered about dandelions’ health impact and their taste. To the Google! Sites claim that dandelions are tremendously healthy. Here’s an excerpt from Nutrition-and-You.com:

  • Certain chemical compounds in fresh dandelion greens, flower tops, and roots are known to have antioxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
  • Fresh dandelion leaves carry 10,161 IU of vitamin-A per 100 g (about 338% of daily recommended intake), one of the highest source of vitamin-A among culinary herbs. Vitamin-A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant, required for maintaining healthy mucosa and skin.
  • Its leaves packed with numerous health benefiting flavonoids such as carotene-ß, carotene-α, lutein, cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids (carotenes) help the human body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. Zeaxanthin supposed to possess photo-filtering functions and therefore, may help protect the retina from harmful UV rays.
  • The herb is an ideal source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids which helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production.The human body uses manganese as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
  • It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folic acid, riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin, vitamin-E and vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Dandelion greens provide 58% of daily recommended levels of vitamin-C.
  • Dandelion is probably the richest herbal sources of vitamin-K; provides about 650% of DRI. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone strengthening by promoting osteoblastic activity in the bones. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.

Sounds impressive. Curious about how they taste, I went out in the morning, harvested some fresh dandelions from the yard, and chowed down on the raw leaves and flowers.

Turns out that they taste like mildly-bitter Romaine lettuce to me. Super, I thought. I liked being able to eat it because. It’s a great added bonus to helping the bees, and it helps reduce our yard waste. I guess I have a new pastime this year, harvesting dandelions and trying new recipes. Bet they’d be pretty tasty on a grilled pizza.

I’ll let you know.

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7 thoughts on “Dandelions

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  1. I ate dandelion greens for the first time in Greece, many years ago. A friend’s mother had gathered them for our dinner, and served them sauteed in olive oil with roasted garlic and lemon juice and they were heavenly. We don’t have nearly enough of them in our yard to serve the bees and us, but if we did, I would, like you, be gathering and consuming them, too. Isn’t it wonderful to know that something so beautiful, yet so reviled, is actually good for multiple species? It gives one pause. Many thanks for your post and reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for letting us know how they turned out.

    Now I’m curious if growth cycle affects the bitterness — i.e. Are young ones sweeter? What’s the difference of the greens between dandelion buds, dandelions in bloom, and dandelions gone to seed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, new, young leaves are less bitter and have a lighter flavor. The flowers have the lightest flavor. The stems emit a latex which is a natural laxative, so I avoid them. The buds, before the flowers open for the day are excellent. Dandelions gone to seed have older leaves, that I’ve seen, and are more bitter. People have ways of blanching the leaves or boiling them with vinegar (as some do with spinach) to alleviate the bitterness.

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