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Monday, April 19, 2010

Dandelion Greens – The Perfect Spring Survival Food

With Spring finally here in New England, not only are we are enjoying a taste of warmer weather but the first shoots fresh, tasty, wild-edibles as well.
One of my favorite wild edibles during the early Spring happens to be the bane of all lawn owners: The Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale).
This article details how to identify and prepare this commonplace but excellent tasting and nutritious wild plant — knowledge that is an excellent addition to your survival info store.

How to Identify Dandelion

Dandelion is a perennial, herbaceous plant with long, lance-shaped leaves. The leaves are deeply toothed and resemble it’s namesake (dandelion comes from the Old French “Dent-de-lion” meaning lion’s tooth). Here are the key components of dandelion that you’ll want to look for:
  • deeply toothed, lance-shaped leaves (3 to 12 inches long)
  • leaves grow in a basal rosette
  • leaves are hairless
  • leaves and flower stalks exude a white milky sap when injured
  • yellow, composite flowers (1 to 2 inches wide)
  • flowers turn into round white seed heads that float in the wind

Dandelion Greens – How to Prepare Them

Instead of waging backyard chemical warfare on dandelions why not eat them instead?
The best time to gather and eat dandelion greens is in the early Spring before the flowers emerge. At this time of year they are only minimally bitter when eaten raw. When added to a stir fry (as I show you below) even finicky eaters will like them.
Here’s one of my favorite ways to prepare and eat dandelion greens:
You’ll notice the first shoots appear as a basal rosette
Gather around 3 cups of dandelion greens
With some olive oil, cook around 2 cups of onions until soft
Add the dandelion greens some chopped garlic and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and cook for around 15 minutes
viola! some awesome tasting dandelion green stir fry!
Dandelion greens can also be added raw to salads and are excellent in sandwiches. If you eat the greens after the flowers emerge, they will be noticeably more bitter. However, you can still eat these. Just boil them in two changes of water (be sure to bring the water to a boil before adding the greens) and they’ll taste just fine.

Dandelion Greens Nutrition Information

Dandelion greens (leaves) are more nutritious than most anything you can purchase in your produce section.
They’re higher in beta carotene than carrots and the iron, vitamin K, and calcium content is far greater than spinach and brocolli. And for the price of pulling them out of your (and your neighbor’s lawn :) ) you get vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, E, P (bioflavonoids) and D, biotin, mositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.
Still think this is a bothersome weed? Think again.

Related posts:

  1. The Fantastic Four – 4 Essential Wild Edible Plants that May Just Save Your Life
  2. Choosing the Perfect Survival Knife
  3. How to Make Survival (Sumac) Lemonade

1 comment:

  1. Love dandelion greens! We eat them in soups, sauted in olive oil/butter and garlic (with a bit of sea salt), and in a raw salad (with a creamy dressing) - yum! Last week I made some flat bread, seasoned and baked some venison, and then wrapped bread around the meat with chopped up dandelion greens and basil. Delicious! We've started foraging them (with permission) from our neighbors' yards. Our rabbits love them, too ;).