Dandelions - The Tasty Weed!
This time of year dandelions are in bloom in many parts of the country. They always remind of two things, my big sister and one of my favorite herbal teas.
My sister, is three years my senior. That’s a perfect age difference for me to drive her crazy our entire childhood. She got stuck babysitting me far more than she would of liked and when she wasn’t babysitting, I was following her around anyway.She’s a pretty awesome big sis, but once in a while she needed a little payback. Dandelion season was a perfect opportunity.
Our father often loudly proclaimed that his idea of the perfect lawn was a shiny expanse of asphalt with a concrete pedestal in the center. Proudly and permanently mounted on the pedestal would be a rusting lawn mower. From this declaration you may be able to deduct, lawn care was not one of dad’s favorite activities.
Consequently our lawn was brightly decorated this time of year with vibrant yellow dandelions. In the summer mornings, before things got too hot, my sister had favorite game called “the makeup game.” She’d chase me down, pin me to the ground and apply “makeup.” Of course she was too young for real makeup so, “makeup” was whatever was at hand, mud, berries and often dandelions.
She’d take a fresh dandelion flower and apply yellow ”blush” to my cheeks. That stuff doesn’t wash off as easy as you’d think. I spent much of my childhood summers looking like I had a severe case of jaundice!
My mother was also a big fan of dandelions, specifically dandelion greens. She’d pick the greens straight out of our lawn, sauté them with whole garlic cloves and crushed red peppers and sprinkle a little vinegar on top when she served. Mmmm!
These days, I live in an apartment and don’t have a lawn but I still love dandelions and no one ever seems to mind me picking them out of their yard for them. But these days I go for dandelion tea.
Dandelion tea is great for you and easy to make. There are several ways to go with dandelion tea. Here are my two favorites.
Dandelion Flower Tea-
Dandelion flower tea is super fast and easy. It recommended for a quick immune system boost, clearing your skin and detox.
- Pick 6-10 dandelion flowers. Cut off all stems and leave as close to the base of the flower as possible. Put in your infuser or cup.
- Bring 8 oz. of water to just barely boiling temperature, poor over the flowers
- Let steep for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Add honey if you like it a little sweeter.
Roasted Dandelion Root Tea
Dandelion root is a famous detox herb, even recommended by Dr. Oz as part of his 48 hours cleanse program. Its good for your liver, is a diuretic, relieves bloating and constipation.
The roasted roots have a robust flavor causing it to often be recommended as a coffee substitute. I think that recommendation is based more on color than actual taste, it is quite a different flavor profile. Personally I prefer jiaogulan as a coffee substitute because it helps relieve the withdrawal symptoms. But I agree dandelion root makes a tasty tea.
I plan to offer it on our site someday, but for now, it’s pretty easy to make at home. Here is how I do it.
- Preheat your oven to 320° F
- Pick a couple of dozen dandelions taking care to get as much of the root as possible.(This is the hardest part of the whole process. It’s downhill from here.) Cut off the flowers and leaves (and use them as described above.) dandelion roots have a milky sap that some people are allergic to. If you feel itching or see redness, stop and make someone else do this part. You can still drink the tea, The sap will cook out during the roasting process.
- Wash the whole roots under running water as best you can and then soak and rinse several times until the soaking water runs clear.
- Chop the roots into small bits about the size of a lentil bean
- Spread the chopped roots in a single layer on parchment paper in a cookie sheet.
- Roast in the oven for about 2 hours. About 1 hour in give them a shake. Use your sense of smell to call the time. If you start smelling a burned small then stop.
- Place heaping tablespoon of the roasted roots in your infuser. Poor in boiling water and let steep for 10 -15 minutes.
That’s it for today. I hope you are out there enjoying your summer. If you are one of those people plagued with dandelions in your otherwise pristine yard, turn your friends and family on to dandelion teas. They’ll get the problem fixed for you in a jiff and thank you for the opportunity. Take that Tom Sawyer!