Welcome to Learn with the Seasons:
Your guide to Foraging for and Using Edible & Therapeutic Herbs.
This lesson is about Dandelion Flower (Taraxacum officinale).
This lesson contains:
- An identification video to help you to recognise the dandelion.
- An herbal data sheet containing details of how to use dandelion leaves as a wild edible food and/or therapeutic herb
- Photographs of dandelion flower
- An introductory video
- Video: making dandelion infused vinegar (food & herbal remedy)
- Video: making dandelion pakora (food)
- Recipe sheets as above
You can read the recipes and plant information on-screen or print off the pdfs documents.
PLANT DATA SHEET
(info & guidelines about using this plant as a wild food and/or herbal medicine)
Latin Name: Taraxacum offiinale flos
English Name: Dandelion Flower
Irish Name: Caisearbhán German Name: Kuhblume French Name: Pissenlit
Spanish Name: Diente de léon Italian Name: Dente de Lion
These are the polite names. It is of course known around the world as ‘wet-the-bed’ because it is such an effective diuretic!
What kind of plant is this? : This is a very common weed and most people are familiar with it. It grows in fields, gardens, even cracks in the pavement. It is the bane of many gardeners who often try in vain to weed it out and apply horrible dangerous weed-killers. If you want to get rid of dandelions in your garden then pour on salt. This is non-toxic and it might also kill a few slugs (bonus!). Personally I love the sight of fields in April and May that are golden with dandelions. I find them glorious and just looking at them cheers my heart. Why anyone would want rid of them is beyond me!
Parts used: The flowers, leaves, roots and sap of dandelion can all be used for various different therapeutic reasons. In this lesson we cover uses for dandelion flowers. There are separate lessons about dandelion leaves (in the Spring & Early Summer course) and dandelion root (in the Autumn course).
Edible: Yes, dandelion flowers are edible (as are the leaves and the young roots when cooked). Dandelions are popular in French cookery.
How and when to harvest dandelion flowers: When they are in full bloom, on a sunny day and the fields are a glorious sunny colour from these bright happy flowers. When to harvest them depends on where you live in the world and how warm the weather has been. In Ireland & UK, they are usually in seasons from mid-April to mid-May. If you mow your lawn then you should get a second growth of dandelions, and more flowers for you to use.
Safety: Dandelion flowers are a very safe herb to consume either as a food or a remedy. Be aware when picking dandelions that there are several weeds with leaves and flowers that resemble dandelion. Please watch the tips in my identification video to ensure that you get the correct plant.
- If you are taking blood-thinning medication(e.g. warfarin) then seek professional medical advice before consuming dandelion flowers regularly. You G.P. will be best-placed to advise you about this.
- If you have kidney disease then I highly recommend that you see a qualified herbalist or consult your GP before starting to take regular doses of dandelion flowers. The kidneys are very delicate organs and it depends on what kind of disease or damage there is whether or not dandelion would be safe to consume.
- If you are on pharmaceutical diuretics or medication for high blood pressure then please talk to your G.P. or see a professional herbalist before consuming dandelions regularly.
- Pregnancy:dandelion is usually safe to take in pregnancy unless you have been prescribed blood-thinning medication or have any of the conditions listed above. However, because it is a renowned diuretic you might want to avoid it: pregnant ladies already spend enough time running to the loo without it!
- Allergies: Some people get contact dermatitis (i.e. a red rash) from picking dandelions. It’s thought that they may be allergic to the latex that is present in the leaves and stem. If you get this rash, stop picking dandelions and wash your hands. If you want to pick them again, then I recommend that you wear gloves. Dandelions are in the compositae (daisy) family of plants and some people are prone to allergies from touching plants in this family.
What are the benefits to me of consuming dandelion flower? : They are a lovely fresh wild food to include in your diet, offering colour, cheer and variety of flavour. They grow abundantly so it is a joy to include them in your meals during the brief time that they are in season. They are quick and easy to collect: about as fast and convenient as wild food gets!
Using Dandelion Flower as a Food
Nutritional Content: Unlike the leaves and roots, the flowers are not rich in minerals.
Suitable for juicing?: I don’t recommend adding dandelion flowers to juice. I think that the diuretic properties of it would be far too strong. And also, dandelion has quite a bitter taste so I expect that the juice would be thoroughly unpleasant.
Quantities: Dandelion flowers are very safe and they can be used quite liberally in cooking.
Fresh Dandelion flower Infusion (tea)
Add 1 -2 tsp of petals to 1 cup of boiled water. Infuse for 15 mins. Strain, drink 3 cups daily. I usually add some dandelion flowers to my spring ‘weed tea’ blend i.e. pop them in to my herbal cafetiere with nettles, cleavers, plantain, blackberry leaves etc.
Using dandelions in a salad
Pick a couple of dandelion flowers. Wash them, dry them in a tea towel and sprinkle the petals through a salad (foraged, cultivated or a mix of both!). It brings a subtle bitter flavour but more importantly livens up the salad with its cheerful golden colour.
Pakora is a lovely spicy savoury dish from India: usually made with cauliflower, onion or mushroom. It is quick and easy to make. And very, very tasty. See the video lesson and the recipe at the bottom of this lesson.
Dandelion flower vinegar
This is a lovely cross-over extract that can be used as a culinary dish (e.g. in salad dressings) or as a medicinal tonic (taken regularly at a suitable dosage). See the video in the Videos section for more details.
It is also possible to make: dandelion beer (from the flower, leaves and roots), dandelion wine (from the flowers), dandelion syrup (from the flowers) and dandelion root coffee (see the video in the autumn edition of these E-Courses)
Cosmetic Uses & Skincare
Dandelion flower extracts have a reputation for treating the skin to help to break up lumps and cysts, brighten and revitalise tired skin and close the pores. It’s thought to be particularly beneficial for oily skin. Make dandelion flower tea/infusion (see above in Recipe section), squeeze the liquid out of the flowers and use the liquid as a toner for the skin (leave it on, don’t rinse it off). Also, try making dandelion infused oil [follow the videos on making herbal infused oils]. This is an useful oil that is often recommended to massage the breasts to improve the health of this tissue, as well as helping to ease aches and pains in the joints of the body.
Using Dandelion Flower as a Remedy: Therapeutic Properties
Traditionally in herbal medicine dandelion flowers have been used for the following:
- Usually in herbal medicine it is the extracts of the leaves and the roots that are used as medicines. However, the flower can be thought of as having a gentler action of these two stronger parts of the plant i.e. a mild diuretic and a mild bitter tonic that may help to benefit and support liver function.
- Infused oil: lumps, cysts, breasts etc. Dandelion infused oil [follow the videos on making herbal infused oils]. This is an useful oil that is often recommended to massage the breast to improve the health of this tissue, as well as helping to ease aches and pains.
Infusion: See the instructions above in the Recipe section. Drink 3 cups daily.
Tincture: I haven’t seen anyone use dandelion flower tincture so if you’d like to try this out then you’ll have to make it yourself. I recommend a small dosage when trying something new e.g. 1 ml 3 times daily.
Dosages for Children
Culinary amounts of dandelion are suitable for children. It is also safe for them to drink weak dandelion infusion. However, do think about this before you try to give it to them. It does taste quite bitter and so it could put them off herbal teas.
There are excellent recipes for using dandelions as foods, wine, beer and tonics in Healing Wise by Susun Weed and Wild & Free by Cyril & Kit Ó Céirín.
For more medicinal information about dandelion flower see Hedgerow Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal.
RECIPE & EXTRACT VIDEOS & PHOTO LESSONS
Click the tabs on the left to view video and/or photo lessons
Dandelion Flower Infused Vinegar
Dandelion Flower Pakora
RECIPE & EXTRACT DOCUMENTS
(read on screen or download & print off)
Dandelion Flower Pakora
A delicious savoury dish that is quick and easy to make.
For the pakora batter
- Gram flour 155g
- Salt ¾ tsp
- Bicarbonate of soda (‘bread soda’) ½ tsp
- Approx 2-3 tsp blend of Indian spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric etc. (or use curry powder).
- ⅛ tsp of chilli powder, or a couple of drops of Tobasco sauce
- 285ml/ ½ pint of cold water
Sunflower or vegetable oil for deep-frying the pakora
Freshly-harvested dandelion flowers.
- Pour the oil in to a pan suitable for deep-frying and turn on the hob to heat up the oil. The pan does not need to be large because the dandelion flowers are quite small after being covered in batter.
- In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients for the pakora batter.
- Gradually add the water, whisking with a hand whisk to prevent lumps forming. You should have a thick, smooth batter that is still a little runny.
- Dip the dandelion flowers in to the batter, ensuring that they are nicely covered.
- Using a spoon, drop one of the dandelion flowers in to the oil. If the oil is hot then small bubbles will appear as it cooks. If not, then wait until the oil is hot enough before adding any more flowers.
- The flowers cook quickly, usually in about 30 seconds. They turn a lovely pinky-brown colour.
- Remove them from the hot oil using a slotted metal spoon.
- Put them on to kitchen towel to soak up the excess oil.
- Serve them on a plate with some chutney and a little salad.