You can eat dandelions! These weeds are a long-forgotten staple of our diets and are actually packed full of nutrition. Not only are they good for you but you can eat the whole plant. The leaves are lovely as a side salad, and the flowers can be used to infuse oils and butter or to make tea with. You can even boil up the roots to eat.
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What Do Dandelions Taste Like?
If you are brave and try to eat dandelion, then you are in for an experience. These plants have a taste that is hard to describe because it is unlike most leafy greens you are used to.
Imagine a flavour that is earthy but also with a bitter aftertaste. Think of a taste like kale but with a twist. If you choose fresh young leaves that are available in early spring, then the taste will be a little less bitter, and the leaves will also be easier to eat.
How to Eat Dandelions
Dandelions are a surprisingly versatile plant with a variety of uses. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Pop Dandelion Leaves and Flowers Into Salads
The most obvious and most common use for dandelions is in your salad. The bitter earthy taste adds a wonderful depth of flavour, and you can even pop in a few fresh flowers to add even more interest. If you plan to have a dandelion salad, then try and gather fresh dandelion leaves in the Spring. At this time of year, the leaves taste at their freshest and best and will be less tough to eat. They will also be a little less bitter too.
Make sure you gather your dandelion leaves from a source you are comfortable with which hasn’t had weedkiller and too many chemicals used. The dandelion’s leafy greens can absorb these chemicals, and it could affect their taste and safety.
Sautee Leaves for a Vegetable Side Dish
If you can’t get the youngest and freshest leaves, you can choose to cook them lightly and use as a side dish with your main meal. Don’t overcook the leaves as this will turn them mushy and a little slimy. Likely sautee them if very lightly steam as you might cook spinach. Add some seasoning and a little butter and serve with your main meal as you might serve any leafy green veg.
Make a Dandelion Leaf Pesto
Make yourself some fresh pesto and instead of using basil, use dandelion leaves instead. Chop up the leaves finely and add your usual ingredients for a pesto with a delicious and interesting difference.
Make a Chicken and Dandelion Sandwich
When you make up your usual chicken salad sandwich, try something different and pop a few dandelion leaves in instead of your lettuce. This also works with most types of sandwich. You can benefit from the dandelion’s nutritional content and pep up your sandwich with a different flavour.
Boil Your Dandelion Roots
When you dig up your dandelion roots, you might be surprised to find just how far these reach into the ground. They can grow up to fifteen feet which is why dandelions in your lawn are so persistent!
Don’t worry about digging out the whole root to eat. Grab the surface plant and pull, and you should get enough root to add to a meal.
Roots are not the tastiest part of the plant. They are tough and are not easy to eat. However, they do contain a lot of nutrition and have been traditionally used in lean times to bulk out your food.
Nowadays, we are more likely to eat them for their nutritional benefit, and by boiling them, you will make them much easier to eat. Boil chopped dandelion roots until the roots are tender and then serve as a side dish or pop them into a stew or casserole.
Make Dandelion Tea
Turn your dandelion flowers into a delicious tea. Pull off the petals or even use the whole flower! Boil them up in some water and enjoy a refreshing drink. You can sweeten with honey if you dislike the bitter earthy taste of the flower.
You can also infuse the leaves into cold water for a refreshing summer drink to have on warm days. Pop the leaves into your infuser with some water and pop it into the fridge to infuse for several hours.
Benefits of Eating Dandelions
Dandelions are one of the more nutrient-dense veggies you can find. This might be part of the reason that foragers love them. Dandelions are easy to find, and it’s hard to get it wrong. Dandelions have been used in herbal medicine for a very long time. For centuries, dandelions have been used to treat all sort of ailments and illnesses.
These plants contain so much nutrition; it is hard to see why we aren’t eating them regularly. You can eat the whole plant, and every part offers its own nutritional benefits. The leafy green part of the plant contains vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. In addition, they contain folate and vitamin E.
If that wasn’t enough the greens also contain several minerals including iron, potassium and magnesium. The plant roots are very fibrous, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are a fantastic source of fibre.
If that wasn’t enough, dandelions also contain lots of antioxidants which can help against dietary stress.
What Countries Eat Dandelions?
Dandelions can be eaten the world over, but it is interesting that they are a common ingredient for use in traditional Chinese medicine.
Should You Eat Dandelions?
If you can source some healthy young dandelion plants in an area where pesticides haven’t been used, there have been no chemicals like weedkiller added to the area, and you aren’t in a polluted area then yes you should eat dandelions.
Be careful when you forage. We have mentioned that these plants can absorb chemicals and pollutions so only forage in places you are confident in their safety and never pick dandelions from roadside areas.
Other Questions about Eating Dandelions
Below are some other questions people often ask when it comes to eating dandelions. If you do find yourself with further questions, however, then please do ask in the comments area at the bottom of this page:
Are Dandelions Safe to Eat?
Dandelions are perfectly safe to eat – as you’ve probably guessed. The only caveat is to ensure you have thoroughly cleaned them before consuming them, especially if you have foraged them yourself.
What Part of the Dandelion Can be Eaten?
You can eat it all! The leaves are the most delicate, normal, and sought-after, but there is nothing to stop you eating any part of the dandelion.