Dandelion is just a weed to some, but savvy foragers know how to use it for free food and medicine. We'll share how, plus tips to get rid of excess plants.
Wine out of dandelions? You bet! Making homemade dandelion wine is a longstanding family tradition. We don't make it every year, but I do like to keep a few bottles on hand for company. You can use the dandelions from your yard, provided they are free of pesticides, herbicides and other things you don't want to eat. The taste of this dandelion wine is rich, golden and warming – more like a good brandy than a wine. I've had friends who don't normally like wine comment that they do enjoy this “spring tonic”.
When Should I Harvest Dandelion Roots?
Harvest dandelion roots from late fall through early spring, when the plant is dormant and has stored up energy in the root. For medicinal use, most sources say fall harvest is best. This is because the levels of inulin (insoluble fiber) are higher and the fructose levels are lower.
[Read more…] about Harvesting and Using Dandelion Roots – The Natural Detoxifier
I've been thinking about writing this post for several weeks now, ever since I first saw a Facebook meme telling people to leave the dandelions for the bees because dandelions are one of the bees' first spring food sources. At first glance, this sounds like a great idea. Bees like flowers, I like bees – save the flowers, save the bees. Easy peasy. The thing is, the dandelion saving movement has gone militant. Bloggers, foodies and gardeners everywhere are under attack because they pick the dandelions and eat them themselves. Over a dozen friends have received angry comments over their use of dandelions, with indignant internet users flaming them with rude remarks for “stealing from the bees”. It's time to inject a little common sense into this dandelion madness. [Read more…] about Stop the Dandelion Madness! Making Peace with Dandelions and Bees
Doesn't it look lovely? The glass is a family heirloom from my husband's grandmother. I finally got around to tasting the dandelion wine I mixed up around this time last year. Mmmmmmmm….now there's a drink that'll warm your tummy and curl your toes. Hubby and friends said it tasted more like a brandy. I say it had a kick, but not like a mule, just enough to get your attention. The flavor was warm and earthy, with citrus overtones from the lemons and oranges. I'm enjoying it, even if I am a teetotaler. “A Summer Tradition: Making Dandelion Wine” gets more “flowery” in their praise (pun intended):
The Europeans often believed that the making of the wine was a magical process, and that the fae (also known as faeries or fairies) helped the process along. After all, they were starting with bitter dandelions and ending up with sweet wine… how can there not be magic involved?
As I mentioned in the original post, dandelion wine was allowed during some periods of prohibition due to its medicinal properties. Herbal Legacy states:
Studies show that the dandelion to be a rich source of vitamins and minerals. The leaves have the highest vitamin A content of all greens. Herbalists say that dandelion root heads the list of excellent foods for the liver because of its relatively high amounts of choline which is an important nutrient for the liver. Dandelion leaves are a diuretic, meaning that they help flush excess water from the body. Dandelion flowers are well endowed with lecithin, a nutrient that has been proven useful in various liver ailments.
I cooked up some greens with my eggs for breakfast, and I have to say they taste pretty…green. The wine is more yummy, but too potent for breakfast. 🙂 I dried some roots last fall, but have yet to roast and grind them as a coffee substitute (poke me and prod me if you want me to try this).
So what's next? Do I try the dandelion beer from Wine-Making Guides?Print
8 oz / 225 grams young dandelion plants
1 lb / 450 grams demerara sugar
1/2 oz / 15 grams root ginger
1 large lemon
8 pints / 1 gallon water
1 oz / 25 grams cream of tartar
1/4 oz / 10 grams brewer's yeast
This is very much a springtime recipe, when the dandelion plants are young and the leaves fresh. Dig up the dandelions plants, taking care to keep the roots intact. Wash them thorougly to eliminate all traces of soil, and remove any fine, fibrous roots, leaving a clear carrot-like taproot.
Add the dandelion plants (including leaves) into a large saucepan, together with the water, ginger (roughly chopped) and the rind of the lemon. Bring to the boil and leave simmering for around ten minutes. Strain into a fermentation bucket, adding the sugar and the cream of tartar, mixing thoroughly. When cooled, add the activated brewing yeast and the juice from the lemon. Cover and leave to ferment for three days, stirring once a day. Strain and bottle, using strong bottles with screw-tops. Drink just one week later.
I wonder how long this will keep? Has anyone tried making a dandelion beer? How do you eat dandelions? (Do you eat dandelions?) What other plants do you wildcraft this time of year?