Eat the Dandelions!

We all know that herbicides can harm us and the environment, so it follows that scientists are studying natural weed control methods. 

A team at Michigan State University recently studied the effectiveness of mulched maple and oak leaves on common dandelions in bluegrass lawns. The team tested chopped up leaves of red maple, silver maple, sugar maple and red oak and looked to see how they worked to suppress dandelions in a lawn. They found that after one and two mulch applications (at a high rate of mulching)  up to 80% and 53% reduction in dandelions was achieved, respectively.

This makes sense since leaves lay naturally on a meadow and are not blown off. They block light and water and suppress weed growth.. But we, lawn owners, immediately blow off all the leaves on our lawn in our early spring 'clean up' which opens up sun to all weed seeds. 
We then apply pre-emergent weed killers to prevent the dandelions from sprouting ...
Perhaps we should look at it from another perspective - rather than curse the dandelion as an irksome weed and poison it  - let's Eat the Dandelions!

In countries across the world the dandelion is considered a vegetable. Its leaves are consumed with gusto as they are delicious and very nutritious.

Dandelion greens are one of the most nutritionally dense greens you can eat. They are full of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.  They are potassium-rich, are a great blood detoxifier and are wonderful for the liver. They have been used to treat digestive disorders, arthritis and eczema. As a side note, it is their deep taproot that brings up vital minerals from the subsoil and that is why they are full of those important nutritionally elements.

Dandelion greens have a reputation for bitterness but young greens are less bitter than mature foliage so now - early spring - is the time to forage for and harvest dandelion greens.  Do it before they flower.

Look for young dandelions growing in rich soil, not too close to roads (they can accumulate pollution) and not from areas that have been treated with garden chemicals. 

If you go out right now, you will find the tenderest, sweetest part of the plant which is the crown, that cluster of new buds that sits above the taproot. 

Young dandelion greens are tender and can be served raw in salads or sandwiches. They are so good for you that it is a wonder they are not being touted as a miracle plant.   Dandelion roots can also be ground and used as a substitute for coffee, and dandelion flowers can be used in recipes and for garnish. 

Cream of Dandelion Soup (from a great blog, A Veggie Venture) 
Hands-on time: 30 minutes    Time to table: 30 minutes   Makes about 3 cups
1/2 pound dandelion greens, washed well and drained, roots trimmed, stems chopped small, leaves chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chicken broth

Prep the greens. In a large skillet, melt the butter til shimmery. Add the greens and stir to coat with fat. Let cook, stirring occasionally, til greens are beginning to soften. Add the stock and continue cooking til greens are cooked but still bright green.

2 tablespoons butter
2 carrots, diced small
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup whole milk (my friend, Lynn, says use skim milk) 
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard (don't skip this)
1/2 cup whole milk or cream (my friend, Lynn, says use skim milk
Salt and white pepper

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan til shimmery. Add the carrot and onion (I add the carrot first since it takes longer to cook) and let cook til softening but not browning. Stir in the flour, creating a heavy paste. A tablespoon at a time, stir in the milk, incorporating completely into the paste before adding more. Let cook for 2 - 3 minutes (this cooks out the floury taste) and until completely hot.

Pour the greens and the white sauce into a blender and process til smooth. Return to the saucepan. Stir in mustard and cream and season to taste. Heat through (don't let boil) and serve.


With whole milk - Per Cup: 277 Cal (58% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 32% from Carb); 7 g Protein; 19 g Tot Fat; 12 g Sat Fat; 23 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; NetCarb18; 172 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 258 mg Sodium; 52 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 6 points
With heavy cream - Per Cup: 321 Cal (67% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 26% from Carb); 6 g Protein; 25 g Tot Fat; 15 g Sat Fat; 22 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; 185 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 244 mg Sodium; 74 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 8 points

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  1. I am seeing far fewer dandelions this spring and that seems odd since winter was so mild.

  2. That seems ominous - I don't know why I say this but it just feels not good, Denise.

  3. Hey, thanks for posting this. If you did not tell this I would never known that these were eatable. Interesting post.


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