Dandelions are one of the many “weeds” that Americans spend a good amount of time trying to rid their yards, driveways, and sidewalks of. For no reason at all these poor little plants have been deemed the more hellish thing to crop up in a suburban piece of land. Few realize the number of wonderful things that can be made out of dandelions.
Their leaves can me sauteed and eaten dressed with butter, vinegar, or anything else the pallet prefers. The heads had be used to make dandelion wine. There is such a thing as dandelion syrup, which I hear is delicious. The entire plant can be fed to numerous critters to supplement their diet. Not to mention the seed heads can keep a toddler entertained for hours on end.
One way that dandelions can be used is as a detoxifying tea which can help shed water weight and flush the kidneys – in turn helping to balance hormones. Now that this wonderful little tea has become a staple in our home, I decided it was time to dry some out myself. I was in for a bit longer of a process than what I expected.
Dandelions run rampant around our home (the toddler helping to sow the seeds is only an added bonus for them). I decided that I would try digging them out of the ditch up by the road that we live on. Our town does not use any form of pesticide, so I felt completely safe doing this. **If you are digging from a common area and do now know if there are pesticides used, PLEASE find out first!**
A note to those trying to dig out dandelion root for the first time: do not try to dig in an area where the plants have been unharrassed.
I quickly found myself using a spade, trowel, and a kitchen fork to try and dig this bugger out. Diamond (who’s leash you see in the photo), just looked at me like I was a crazy woman. I moved down to our back lawn and near the stream and had much better luck. There seem to be two key things to look for to have success with this: 1. sandy soil and 2. young plants. The younger the plant, the smaller the tap root. While that means more that need to be collected, that also means an easier time pulling them out of the soil.
If you look at the photo above, you can easily tell the younger plants (fairly straight, thinner tap roots) from the older ones that are wrapped around one another, forming an alien looking tuber.
After getting a decent size haul of plants, I double washed them in the stream and then lobbed the tops off. (Both the rabbit and chickens were delighted to have fresh veggies delivered right to them.) I then brought in the roots for a good scrubbing in fresh, cold water, and let them work on air drying while I diced them into roughly uniform sized slices, leaving the really thing ones in lengths of roughly one inch.
The key to drying is to wait until the roots are crumbly and can be broken down by hand with no sponginess left. For my slightly older dehydrator it took about 12 hours. Supposedly this can be done via air drying, but living in a humid climate, I wasn’t about to try it.
(Originally published on: Jun 12, 2014.)