A Dandelion Celebration: Dandy Springtime Greens

How to gather and cook dandelions.

| May/June 1999

When many people consider celebrating dandelions, they do so in much the same spirit as one celebrates over-stayed house guests: the party begins once they’re gone! But the dan­delion, routinely thought of as “lawn enemy number one,” is welcomed and celebrated around the world as both food and medicine.

Dandelions are one of the best wild-vegetable resources in the world. They are free, abundant, nutritious, and very palatable when collected at the right time, in the right way, and properly prepared.

Greens Gathering

Collect dandelion leaves in the spring before the flower buds appear. The best way to harvest them is to cut the greens with the top of the root still attached so the leaves stay together. This makes them easier to clean.

Make sure you collect greens that grow significantly back from the road and in areas that have not been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.

If buds or flowers have already appeared on your dandelions, harvest them when flowering is complete. Then cut the old greens and flowers off at the root and let new greens grow. Harvest the new greens while they are young and tender, and they will be only slightly more bitter than in early spring.

To reduce bitterness even further, cover growing dandelions with a pot, a piece of slate, or some other device that will help them blanch as they grow. Blanching the greens will, however, reduce their nutritional properties.

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