Sharing our experiences and what we’ve learned about the traditional uses of many “weeds”, is deeply important. Its a way to honor the timeless tradition of passing down knowledge from generation to generation. It is also a way to empower others that are seeking alternatives to modern day convenience.
One of the shining stars on our farm is the dandelion. In the spring, it is one of the first wild foods we get to harvest and enjoy. We can’t wait until our field is still aglow with sunny yellow dandelions, so that we can replenish our stock of dandelion leaf, flowers and roots, all of which have many uses.
When it comes to abundant, resilient, FREE, nutrition, you can’t do much better than the dandelion. Although generally looked upon as a nuisance weed, the dandelion has a low ecological impact on our planet and causes no real damage to the ecosystem.
In fact, dandelions do a lot of good. They offer an early spring food to our pollinators, and to humans as well. Many of our ancestors were well acquainted with the dandelion, and its time we came to appreciate this plant for all that it provides. In a time where we suffer from food insecurity, we would be well served by getting to know the resilient, edible wild plants that grow around us.
Dandelions also help to support and protect the soil. Their roots help to loosen the soil, the plants protect it and within all of that, they create a healthy soil micro climate for earth worms.
We love to eat dandelion in salads and after a long winter they are perfect for replenishing our energy with iron boosting tea.
Dandelion is a nutritional powerhouse, containing high amounts of beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. It’s also a source of B complex vitamins, trace minerals, organic sodium, and even vitamin D. Surprisingly, dandelion has more protein than spinach!
Many wild greens, including dandelions, have a natural bitterness to them. However, this bitterness is actually beneficial for our health, as bitters help with optimal digestion, bile production, and liver function. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate bitters into our diets.
However, due to our reliance on cultivated greens found in grocery stores, many of us have become accustomed to a lack of flavor in our diets. Wild greens, with their bold and bitter taste, may take some time to get used to. To ease into it, start with a few leaves and sprinkle some blossoms on your meal, gradually increasing the number of leaves as you become accustomed to the stronger flavors.
Dandelion is also commonly used in detoxification formulas and is a well-known and effective natural diuretic. It also helps the body process hormones, which can be helpful during adolescence and menopause. Additionally, it can assist with recovery from colds and flu and relieve muscle tension. Without a doubt, the dandelion is quite an exceptional plant.
We can take full advantage of the abundance of wild superfoods like dandelion by incorporating them into our skincare regime and consuming them. This plant is not only local, wild, and organic, but also highly nutritious. Its versatility is quite astounding, and it’s one of the best plants to get to know because of its widespread availability (just make sure to harvest from clean, chemical-free areas).
Have you ever taken the time to smell a dandelion? You really should if you haven’t. The leaves & blossoms have this gorgeous honey scent that really lifts the spirits. I highly recommend getting outside and harvesting dandelions, it’s a wonderful family friendly activity.
How to make a Dandelion Blossom Herbal Infused Oil
Dandelion blossom oil is excellent for soothing dry skin and can also alleviate tired muscles and general aches and pains. Perfect for those of us that toil away in the gardens
While I typically prefer a slow and gentle approach when infusing oils, I’ve found that using the double boiler method works best when working with dandelions. This is one of the rare times that I apply heat to an oil infusion. Dandelion blossoms can be notoriously tricky to dry without turning into white fluff balls. The double boiler technique helps to evaporate any excess water in the blossoms, resulting in a better infusion. Additionally, it’s a relatively fast process, allowing you to use the oil the same day you make it.
- Fresh or dried dandelion flowers
- Carrier oil (such as olive, coconut, or almond oil)
Pat the dandelion flowers dry with a towel.
Place the dried flowers in a clean jar and cover them completely with your chosen carrier oil.
Set up a double boiler by placing the jar in a pot of water lined with a thick dish towel, or using a water bath canner if available.
Heat the jar over low heat for 1-2 hours, making sure to keep an eye on it and adding water to the pot as needed.
Remove the jar from heat and allow it to cool completely.
Strain the oil through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a clean, dry jar or bottle.
Store your dandelion infused oil in a cool, dark place to maintain its freshness.
Your dandelion infused oil is now ready to use in your favorite recipes or as a topical treatment for the skin.
Super simple dandelion infused salve
- 1 cup dandelion infused oil
- 2 ounces of beeswax
- Optional: 15-20 drops of essential oil (chamomile, lavender etc)
- In a double boiler, melt 2 ounces of beeswax over low heat.
- Add 1 cup of dandelion infused oil to the melted beeswax, and stir the mixture until the beeswax is completely melted and combined with the oil.
- Remove the mixture from heat and stir in 15-20 drops of your preferred essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree oil. This step is optional but can add a nice scent and extra therapeutic benefits to your salve.
- Pour the mixture into clean, dry glass jars or tins.
- Let the mixture cool and solidify completely before capping the jars or tins.
To use the dandelion salve, simply rub a small amount onto dry, cracked or irritated skin. The salve can also be used as a general moisturizer for the skin.
Wild Dandelion/Nettle Tea (Iron Booster) Recipe
As someone that suffers from periodic Iron deficiency, Dandelion tea is a valuable part of my home apothecary. Tea is a quick and easy way to utilize the benefits of many wild/garden herbs. This tea is somewhat bitter, and honey makes it far more palatable and extra nutritious.
- 1 Tbsp fresh dandelion (leaves and blossoms)
- 1 Tbsp fresh nettle (optional – if you don’t have it don’t sweat it).
- 1 Cup boiled water
- Raw honey to taste
Dried/Roasted Roots (Coffee Substitute)
What I’ll use it for: Coffee substitute mixed with Chicory root and herbal tinctures.
To prepare the dandelion roots for use, I start by thoroughly washing and scrubbing them to remove any soil. Any soft or mushy pieces are discarded. Next, I spread the cleaned roots out on mesh trays and allow them to air dry for about 24 hours. Once the roots are completely dry, I chop them up and place them in the oven to slow roast at a low temperature. This slow roasting process allows the roots to develop a rich, deep flavor. Once fully roasted, I store the dandelion roots in airtight glass jars to ensure freshness.
We sincerely hope that this post will encourage and inspire you to see dandelions as a valuable garden herb. The next time you see some cheerful dandelions in your garden go ahead and nibble on the leaves and blow a few seeds into the air and make a wish!