By Laura Killingbeck
If you have a lawn full of weeds, don’t stress, just start snacking! There is nothing more satisfying than harvesting the free food right in front of you. Wild edible weeds are often high in vitamins and minerals, and come in a whole array of wonderful flavors. Dandelions are a beautiful and delicious edible weed that many people can already identify.
According to Katrina Blair, author of “The Wild Wisdom of Weeds:
”Dandelions are classified as a “nutritive,” which helps replenish the blood with vital minerals and vitamins needed for the body’s long-term integrity. They balance the electrolytes in the system due to their natural sodium content. A serving size, 1 cup of fresh greens, has the daily requirements of beta-carotene, calcium, iron, and potassium…as a complete protein dandelions contain all eight essential amino acids…”
Katrina is the founder of Turtle Lake Refuge, a non-profit organization which celebrates the connection between personal health and wild lands. Over ten years ago I visited Turtle Lake and did a demo for them on wild-cultured ginger beer. I still remember Katrina and her vibrant smile–she made me feel healthier just by being around her! Perhaps her glow came from all those dandelions she was eating.
The following are a few ways we snack on dandelions at Round the Bend Farm.
Dandelion blossoms add a bright floral flavor to salads. You can also sprinkle the petals over grilled meats and vegetables as a garnish. To remove the blossoms from the flower heads, just hold the green calyx in your fingers and pinch the yellow blossoms off with a small twist or snap.
Dandelion greens are also edible. The best time to harvest the leaves is when they are still young and tender, before the plant begins to flower. Tender leaves taste great when chopped fresh into salad. As the leaves grow older they become increasingly bitter. Both young and older leaves can also be sauteed in garlic and oil for extra flavor.
Dandelion Honey Butter
Dandelion honey butter is an easy and intriguing spread for toasts, muffins, and other baked goods. The dandelion blossoms add a beautiful color and light scent and flavor to the honey butter.
1-2 cups dandelion blossoms
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup butter
*Pull petals from dandelion blossoms until you get around 1/4 cup of petals
*Mix petals with 3 tablespoons honey
*Add 1/2 cup of butter and blend to combine
If you prefer to drink your dandelions, you can do that too! This website has a spectacular array of dandelion wine variations. This year Monica Mejia and I experimented with a couple of these. The final results tasted great on ice, and I especially liked them with a little bit of muddled sage or mint.