Dandelions: Friend or Foe?

Everything you never knew about the lowly dandelion.

How can those pesty weeds that you work so hard to get rid of be good for anything? Think again before you consider the dandelion your garden enemy! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, dandelions are more nutritious than broccoli or spinach, contain more cancer-fighting beta-carotene than carrots, and are a rich source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, lecithin, and dietary fiber!

All parts of the dandelion;  leaves, flowers and roots are edible, each in their own season.

The young, tender leaves of dandelions can be eaten as cooked greens, used in salads, gravies or in a variety of baked dishes. Pick the tender leaves before flowers bud or else they will become bitter.

Dandelion flowers, from which the bitter stem and green parts need to be removed before using, can be dipped in batter and fried to make fritters or boiled for jellies as well as used in muffins and wines.

Harvest dandelion roots during the fall and winter months. Cleaned, roasted and ground up, dandelion roots make a coffee-flavor, caffeine-free base for hot or cold beverages.

Dandy Facts:

  • Growing dandelion greens for market generates millions of dollars a year in the U.S.
  • Many popular herbal teas, weight-loss products and organic vitamin supplements contain dandelions. Check the ingredients.
  • Fifty five tons of coffee substitutes made from roasted dandelion roots are sold each year in England, Australia, and Canada.
  • Recipes using dandelions appear in one of every four general cookbooks in the U.S.
  • Dandelions are a favorite food of hogs, poultry, deer, silkworms, purple finches and gerbils.
  • Make liquid fertilizer by immersing a handful of dandelion leaves in a pint of water, bring it to a boil, cover and allow it to cool. After it is cooled, strain the liquid off, dilute with four parts of water. For a leaf spray, add one teaspoon of liquid soap (not detergent)

Feeling adventurous? Try this delicious recipe for soup!

Cream of Dandelion Soup

  • 8 ounces                fresh Dandelion greens (12 cups loosely packed)
  • 2 Tablespoons       butter or margarine
  • 1                            small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cups                    chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon           salt (optional if broth is salty)
  • 2 cups                    milk
  • 3 tablespoons          all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup                    half and half or light cream
  • Garnishes                Dairy sour cream, chopped hard-cooked egg or crumbled crisp cook bacon.

Cook the dandelion greens, covered in 2 quarts salted water for 10 minutes. Drain well.

Melt butter or margarine in a large saucepan. Add onion, cook until tender. Add chicken broth. Stir in dandelion greens and let simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Blend or process one-fourth of the chicken broth/dandelion green mixture at a time in blender or food processor. Return to saucepan.

Combine milk and flour. Add milk mixture and cream to the soup puree in the saucepan. Cook and stir on medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook one minute more. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with sour cream chopped egg or bacon, and a few drops of lemon juice. Makes 6 servings