As you may have seen me mention on Instagram, I’ve decided to do a wild foods mini series over the next few months as wild edibles and medicinals pop up in the gorgeous Willamette Valley and surrounding areas. I’m going to tell you about the beneficial properties of some of the most widely available spring edibles, how to harvest them, and then give you a few ideas about what to do with them! I talked a bit about Purple Dead Nettle in my introductory Instagram post about this series, but it feels right that the first full profile with recipe should be for Dandelion, as this is one of the most familiar and readily available plants in the entire country. So we’re going to learn a bit about Dandelion’s properties, and then I’m going to show you how to use fresh leaves and petals to make savory Chive and Rosemary Dandelion Pancakes!
Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, is an abundant plant that has been the bane of farmers and home landscaping afficianados for centuries. But did you know that almost the entire plant is both edible and medicinally active? Dandelion leaves are loaded with nutrients and are quite tasty when young and tender, and its roots can be dried and used as medicine or blended with chicory and roasted to make a delicious coffee alternative. To clear your yard of this plant without enjoying all of its benefits would be a huge waste!
Dandelion has diuretic and aperient properties and is a general stimulant to the entire system, though it is most commonly indicated to the urinary organs. It is an excellent plant to incorporate into kidney and liver tonics. The older the leaves are, the more bitter they taste, and the more potent their constituents. They are safe to consume at any age, but I prefer young leaves both for culinary and medicinal use. In herbalism, stronger is not usually better.
A note about wildharvesting: please be sure that whatever you’re collecting is coming from clean areas that are not sprayed with harmful chemicals, and be mindful to not take more than you need. This is a much larger issue with plants that are not as invasive as Dandelion, but still a good thing to be mindful of every time you wildharvest.
Now that you have a better understanding of the benefits of and uses for our new golden haired plant friend, get out there and harvest some! Then come back in and make these perfectly savory Chive and Rosemary Dandelion Pancakes!