Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!
Now that spring is in full bloom, we wanted to take a moment to discuss the humble dandelion. Most homeowners probably think of this little yellow flower as an annoying weed to be controlled. It’s true that dandelions do grow everywhere and can kill a nicely manicured lawn. However, dandelions have many under appreciated properties that make them valuable as a food item and a part of the local ecosystem.
If you pick a dandelion from the ground and eat it (and you should never do this with dandelions that grow along roads or in treated lawns), you’ll find that it is quite bitter. However, this can be fixed by blanching the leaves and sautéing them like you would cook kale or spinach. Once the bitterness is cooked out, dandelion greens are nutritious and delicious! Use them like any other sautéed green- to accompany meat and potatoes, or in pasta.
Dandelion roots can also be dried and ground to make a surprisingly tasty coffee substitute for those of us who can’t have the real deal. The website Rose’s Prodigal Gardens gives a number of recipes for dandelion root coffee and tea here. You can even use the petals of the dandelion flower to make wine!
Dandelions are a spring favorite of honeybees and other pollinators. The early spring flowers give them an important source of nutrition before most flowering plants are ready to yield their pollen and nectar. The dandelion, while it is a weed, can also be beneficial for gardeners. Its taproot brings nutrients in deeper soil up to the surface for shallower plants, as well as serving as a magnet for bees and other pollinators. Also, being a weed, dandelions are easy to cultivate!
So enjoy those dandelion greens and feel good about helping the environment and your body.
Have a great holiday!
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