How to Eat Dandelions

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Dandelion greens are used in salads.
Dandelion greens are used in salads. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

To many gardeners, dandelions are nothing but weeds. The perennial, which is also known as lion's tooth due to its jagged-edged leaves, has many health benefits when eaten. It is rich in zinc, potassium and iron, and contains vitamins A, B complex, C and D. Dandelions are used to promote liver, gallbladder and digestive health; they have a mild diuretic effect, and they stimulate your appetite. Eat dandelions raw or cooked.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Spoon
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • 1 egg
  • Salad spinner
  • Plate or bowl
  • Bacon
  • Vinegar

Cooked Dandelion Greens

Harvest dandelion leaves from a yard that is free of pesticides and herbicides. Look for dandelions in tall, well-watered, grassy areas. Gather only dandelions from which the bud has not bloomed because young dandelion leaves are less bitter. As soon as the leaves sprout out of the ground they are good for harvesting.

Wash the dandelion leaves thoroughly with cold water to remove all sand, dirt and grit.

Chop the greens into 1-inch pieces or leave them whole. Place them in a deep pot. Use a similar pot as you would use to cook potatoes.

Add enough boiling water to the pot so the leaves can be submerged. Aim to have approximately 1 inch of water over the greens. Use a spoon to keep the leaves under the water. Boil the greens for three minutes.

Fish a leaf from the water and taste it. If the taste is too bitter for your liking, cook the greens for another five minutes. Taste another leaf and if it is still bitter, use a fresh pot of water and boil the greens for another three to five minutes. Boiling the greens removes the bitterness. To dilute the bitterness, you can also add dandelion bloom buds to the pot the second time around. The bloom bud is the round, center part of the dandelion plant that grows to turn into the flower.

Drain the liquid from the greens. Add salt to the greens according to taste and serve them hot with a dollop of butter. Your cooked dandelion leaves will have a dark green appearance, similar to endive.

Dandelion Salad

Prepare one hard-boiled egg. Fill a pan with cold water and place a medium-size egg in it. Use enough water so there is at least 1/2 an inch of liquid over the egg. Heat the water and remove the pan from the heat source as soon as the water starts boiling. Leave the egg in the water for 12 minutes before removing it. Chop the egg into 1/2-inch pieces.

Wash a handful of your dandelion greens for one serving. Tumble them dry in a salad spinner. Place them on a plate or in a salad bowl.

Place two to three bacon strips in a pan and cook them until they are crispy.

Remove the bacon strips from the pan and pour the bacon fat over the dandelion greens.

Cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle them over the dandelion greens.

Add your chopped egg to the salad.

Add salt and vinegar to your salad according to taste.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add washed, raw dandelion leaves to your favorite sandwich in the same way you would add lettuce to your sandwich. Add dandelion leaves to a melted American or cheddar cheese sandwich or your hamburger or veggie burger.
  • Chop washed and dried dandelion leaves into fine pieces and add them to your favorite salad. Your salad will mask and reduce the bitter flavor and you still get the nutritional benefits.
  • Look for dandelion leaves in organic food stores or farmers' markets if you prefer to purchase the leaves. Some grocery stores may also sell them.
  • Dandelion leaves are the least bitter in the late fall and early spring.

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