I was just out picking carrots, brocolli and the last of the cucumbers and beans today when I came upon a beautiful dandelion plant in amongst the carrots. It pulled out beautifully in the soft, wet carrot earth so the entire root was intact. This doesn't happen often, Dandelions are very tenacious, I usually have to dig or chip them out of the hard ground.
Too useful to throw away I brought it in and will add the grated fresh root and leaves to my salads for a few days. This is the perfect time of year to harvest and use Dandelions because in the Fall their goodness is traveling back into the root now in preparation for the winter, which makes the root more potent/useful medicinally.
A few years ago I was writing a column called Free Range Edibles for Nourish Publication - http://www.nourishpublication.com/ a free online magazine. I really enjoyed writing the articles so although this isn't about QHHT I thought you might enjoy my little Dandelion article and perhaps put some to use in your own garden....oh I know you have at least one somewhere!
By Marilyn Dyke
If you read my column last month you will know that I promised to tell you all about edible weeds that grow just about anywhere. I thought I'd start with one of the most useful and soon to be one of the most plentiful.
The Dandi – Lion
The irrepressible Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is found just about anywhere. What other plant will so joyfully provide us with an 'instant meadow' on the road side, in farmer's fields, or your own carefully tended lawn..... enough said, you really don't need a picture to identify this one!
The Dandelion and family is probably the world's most traveled plant finding its way to every major continent. It's not a fussy plant and has an ability to survive in almost any environment. It also has adapted very efficient methods of reproduction. Not only will it spread on the wind via those enchanting light-as-a-fairy seeds, it will also reproduce by root segments much like the root segments of comfrey. A bit of advice here; if you are going to remove a Dandelion from your garden be sure to get every scrap of root. Any bit forgotten will soon reappear!
Crazy as it may seem to us in North America, the French actually plant and cultivate Dandelions because they value the epicurean and curative properties of this plant so highly. We in North America have been a bit slow to catch on but in some health food stores that sell produce you may be able to find Dandelion leaves in bunches, some green and some an exotic red color.
Don't limit your use to just the leaves, every part of the Dandelion can be used, except maybe those light-as-a-fairy-seed things!
Among other things, young Dandelion leaves assist in the production of bile which helps in digestion. Some varieties are even named lettuce such as Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola) and Blue Lettuce (Lactuca plulchella) suggesting their beneficial properties when used as a salad green. A salad with Dandelion leaves is perfect before the main course, helping your digestive tract to prepare for the heavier foods of the main course.
The young leaves picked preferably before flowering make the tastiest fresh salad greens. After the plant has flowered you can still eat the fresh leaves, but be sure to pick only the youngest, for they will be the most tender. You may also lightly steam the leaves and eat them as a side dish with a little butter, balsamic vinegar or with fresh parmesan cheese. I've also added them to a pot of soup or stew. They make a very satisfying addition chopped up in omelette or quiche. Whatever way you choose to eat Dandelion your liver will love you for it!
The Dandelion root is best known for its ability to help us release excess water from the body. In fact in the herbal world it is used in place of diuretics because unlike chemical diuretics Dandelion root does not deplete potassium levels in the body, it replaces them.
The root is also a well known healthier coffee substitute. I've never tried it, but they say you just need to roast it in the oven first and then grind it up. Something to think about the next time the price of coffee goes sky high.
If you wish to use the root part for its therapeutic value it is best to use a root that is approximately 3 years old. Pick it in the late summer/fall or early spring when the energy of the plant has returned to the root. This ensures the potency of that part of the plant.
Now growing a 3 year old Dandelion root may seem unrealistic, or downright foolhardy! Especially when The Husband/Wife/Other doesn't appreciate your penchant for this perky little perennial, but if you can squirrel away a couple of plants in an out of the way place they will thrive and if you let them produce those fluffy balls of light-as-a-fairy-seed things after blooming, well then your whole neighborhood will have a plentiful supply for years to come!
Scrub the roots after picking and chop into pieces about ½ inch long. If the roots are more than ½ inch thick I would slice them lengthwise for faster drying. Next allow them to dry thoroughly. If you have a dehydrator set it to the lowest heat setting and dry the roots there. When dry store them in a glass jar away from light and heat. If stored in this way their medicinal properties will be potent for about 3 years.
As you need the root you can grind the dried pieces in a blender and either put them into capsules or sprinkle the root powder on your cereal. For tea bring 2-3 teaspoonfuls of root pieces to a boil per one cup of water and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drink ½ to 1 cup per day.
Although I have never tried this myself the "milky" liquid in the stem part of the Dandelion is reported to be a top notch wart remover.
And last, but not least I think everyone has heard of Dandelion Wine. We live beside a farm field that just bristles with Dandelions in April. The Husband is a rabid vintner and is constantly looking for things he can turn into wine or beer, it's embarrassing really, he just can't resist temptation.
Now if you want to make the very best Dandelion wine then you will need the help of a Saint and as luck would have it we have one for dandelions in St. George, and the optimal day to pick the flowers is on St. George's day, which is April 23rd.
So one sunny April 23rd, with St. George looking over his shoulder, The Husband set off into the field with two paper bags. Soon he was up to his eyebrows in Dandelion flowers and by 10:30pm, on a week night, had only plucked half a bag of petals loose from their heads. What could I do I had to help him?
In the end it was quite a tasty brew and the alcohol content seemed to increase with age...bonus!
So enjoy your Dandelions and remember to only pick free-range edibles from places you know are free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers and well away from any roadways.
We don't think of chickens as being particularly intelligent, but after next month's article you will have a new appreciation for their ability to hone in on probably the most nutritious weeds. Stay tuned for next month when I'll talk about another favorite of mine....Chickweed!
Marilyn Dyke is trained in Dolores Cannon's Quantum Healing Hypnosis Therapy. She has been an active teaching and healing Reiki Master for many years (Usui & Karuna). Much of her summer is taken up communing with her vegetable and herb gardens and concocting herbal creams, salves, teas and herbal essences. It is my Marilyn's pleasure and purpose in this life to help support your quest for balance, peace and physical well being!
You can visit Marilyn at www.BodySoulApothecary.com
Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net