The Incredible Edible Dandelion: Using This Weed to the Fullest
Hey there, ReadyNutrition Readers! We’re going to give you guys and gals a bit of information pertaining to Taraxacum officinale, also known as the Dandelion. Last year I conducted a book review on the work “Eat the Weeds,” and out of the edible weeds, none exemplifies quality vs. misunderstanding as the common dandelion. Most consider them a nuisance; however, they really are a treasure-trove if you know how to use them.
The dandelion is a perennial, and it contains a wealth of vitamins and nutrients, as well as naturopathic applications that are astounding. The dandelion is edible in its entirety, which is really good to know from a survival perspective. They also grow upon a taproot, an important consideration as they will grow back if harvested from the surface and the root is left alone.
From a naturopathic perspective, dandelion tinctures and teas can be used to help the liver and gall bladder, and the root can be tinctured and used as a diuretic, especially good for women with excessive water weight caused during the normal course of menses.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Taken from USDA SR-21
Here are just a few segments of the breakdown (nutritionally) from dandelion.
Dandelion, 1 cup, chopped (55g)
- Protein 1.5 g
- Vitamin A 5588 IU (112%RDA)
- Vitamin C 19.3 mg (32%RDA)
- Vitamin E 1.9 mg (9%RDA)
- Vitamin K 428 mcg (535%RDA)
Other ingredients include Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, and Zinc. All from the dandelion! When you’re tincturing, you should try to harvest the roots in October/November. This period of time is when the concentration of its natural constituents is at its height. Dandelion is an excellent diuretic and is good to take when sweating and flushing the system are needed, such as during the time of fever or cold. Just remember to replace the fluid taken out of your system by the dandelion.
The herb can also be dried and preserved, reconstituted in soups, stews, or salads with minimal losses of its vitamins and nutrients. Concentration and focus should be placed on gathering it, as it provides vitamin C and A in large quantities, and these vitamins will be scarce in times of collapse or shortage.
After rinsing the dandelion off in cold water, you can chop them up and eat them in your salads. There is also another way that I personally prefer to eat them. Parboil them lightly, just to take out the crisp without making them go completely limp or wilted. Then drain them off in a colander. Next, throw them in a frying pan with about ¼ cup of olive oil, and sauté, adding fresh chopped cloves of garlic. It comes out with the taste and consistency of spinach. Throw a little bit of butter and salt on it, and it is delicious.
Ben Charles Harris’ book mentioned earlier gives more weeds and “nuisance” plants for you to cook and make salads from. Why not supplement your diet with quality food while cutting your grocery bill for fresh vegetables at the same time? Dandelions actually help the soil by aerating it and allowing some space between for the growth of helpful microorganisms and other “helpers” such as worms and beetles that help to condition the soil.
In addition, honeybees are heavily dependent upon the pollen produced from countless fields of dandelion. If you plan on making any honey, it would be wise to preserve the fields full of them as a food source for your bees as well as for you and your family. So, with these words, I encourage you to go out into your backyard and reacquaint yourself with the dandelion. With so many gifts to offer, it would be wise to take advantage of them. Just as with anything else, sometimes a gold mine is right in front of you, and you just need to recognize it for what it is. Dandelions are just that. Happy salad-gathering, and let us know about your adventures and any recipes you may have for us! JJ out!
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.
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