Many of us in Pennsylvania and other eastern states shouted for joy (as in, out loud, literally) when outdoor temperatures rose above 65 degrees Fahrenheit for all of about 10 hours this past week. My family attended a track meet where we began the event wearing sleeveless tops and finished in winter coats and hats. All told, we were at the track for approximately 4 to 4 ½ hours and within that amount of time we went from basking in the sun to wrapping ourselves in blankets (overtop our coats and hats) as though we were at a mid-season football game, not a spring time track and field event.
Thankfully, Pennsylvanians are used to experiencing multiple seasons in a single day; thus, we had arrived prepared (clothing-wise) for anything. The good news is that the warm spurt was just enough to cause an eruption of dandelions, everywhere! If you’re a parent or grand-parent, these little yellow weeds have likely graced your kitchen countertop at some point, brought to you by an excited, smiling-ear-to-ear, dirty-faced toddler who proudly tramped mud across your just-mopped floor to gift you with a freshly picked bouquet.
Beyond that, you may be one of many (most?) who mow the dandelions along with the rest of the lawn or dig them up and toss them aside as useless, invasive weeds. The next time you’re about to do that, think about this post and, instead of ridding your yard of dandelions, harvest them as healthy crops you can turn into delicious meals and drinks to improve and sustain your family’s good health!
Hopefully, your lawn is chemical-free; if not, you’ll want to avoid eating anything that grows in it. Dandelions contain approximately 10 percent of the calcium your body needs on a daily basis. These little beauties are also known to detoxify the liver and fight against skin infections and diseases, such diabetes. They pack a power antioxidant punch, are a great source of fiber and also supply boosts of vitamins K and A.
You can use the greens of your dandelions or the flowers. You can serve them cooked or use in salads. Many people use dandelion tea to cleanse their livers. My family loves fritters, made from dipping clumps of dandelion flowers into batter, then frying until golden brown.(Random note: The author is really hoping to snag herself one of those handy-dandy air fryers she keeps hearing so much about!) We add seasoning salt or other herbs for additional flavor. The dandelions themselves taste similar to spinach. If you’re like my kids, you’ll dip them (or any food) into ranch-style dressing.
We first tried dandelions when we were studying frontier life as part of our history lessons. It sparked our interest to learn more about foraging and, since then, we have discovered at least 7 food items growing wild on our own property. It’s a great alternative for families who want to eat non-processed foods at much lower prices than organically grown produce typically costs; in fact, if it’s growing wild in your yard, it’s basically free for the taking!
Instead of mowing down your dandelions, do a quick online search for some tasty dandelion recipes and give it a try. There’s a certain stigma attached to ‘eating weeds’; however, if you think about it, any fresh vegetable or fruit had its start in the soil, so what’s the big deal?
You may also want to search your yard for things like purslane, plantain, wild garlic and various edible berries or mushrooms. Take time to research carefully as there are many look-alike plants out there that pose serious health risks. Before you forage, you want to make certain you have correctly identified a safe-to-eat food.
Where the world sees a weed, we see a potential healthy meal!
Writer Bio: Judy Dudich
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.