Did you know those pesky dandelions growing in your yard are edible? Yup, and they are actually good for you too. Dandelion tea is considered a diuretic and a mild laxative. It is believed to help cleanse the liver and gallbladder. It can increase the flow of bile through the liver and biliary tract. According to the University of Michigan the dandelion is rich in vitamins A, B complex, C and D. It is also a source of iron, potassium and zinc.
You can use pretty much the whole dandelion plant in different ways to make food and beverages. The leaves and flowers can be added to salads and even used to make wine. Today I’m going to show you how to make tea out of dandelion root. This a great tea to drink if you feel like your body needs a bit of a cleanse. Dandelion should not be used in place of prescription medication or as a substitute to medical care. If you are unsure if you should be using dandelion root for medicinal purposes check with your doctor first.
Step 1: Harvesting the roots
This is the hardest part. The roots are tough to get out. The bigger the bunch of leaves growing out of the ground, the bigger the roots. Try to harvest after it has rained. The ground will be considerably softer and it will be easier to pull out the roots . Using a small shovel slice into the dirt surrounding the root. Try to loosen the soil and then grasp the root as deep as you can and pull. Some will come out nicely, some will just snap off. Trim the leaves off the root. You can discard them or add them to a salad. Two important things to remember, 1) only use roots of plants that you know for sure are dandelion 2) Only harvest from dandelions you know have not been sprayed with weed killer or other nasty chemicals. You can harvest any time of the year but it is believed that the roots will have the most nutritional value in the spring and fall.
|big roots on this one|
Step 2: Cleaning and cooking
Once you have gathered enough roots wash them thoroughly and pick off the fibrous stringy bits. Rinse them again and then cut into small pieces. You want them ¼ – ½ inch pieces or smaller
Place on a roasting pan and bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours. Flip after one hour to make sure all the sides are roasted. Once they are cooked try to chop them even smaller. You can put them in a coffee grinder to make them even finer.
|Dirty roots waiting to be rinsed|
|Chopped up in the pan, waiting to be roasted|
|Out of the oven. Notice how much they shriveled up|
|This was how much was yielded after the roots were roasted and chopped|
Step 3: The tea
Put your root powder in a tea infuser and steep for about 20 minutes. It tastes very light and kind of earthy, a little sweet and a little bitter. I added a cinnamon stick to mine for a little more flavor. Next time I think I will add some cloves and some nutmeg for even more flavor. You can drink it on it’s own, it’s just a little bland for my taste. Store extra root powder in an airtight container.
The tea was a lot lighter in taste and color than I was expecting. I steeped it for a very long time but it didn’t get very strong. Considering the time it takes to prepare the root this isn’t something I would make on a regular basis but I did have fun making it. I was pleasantly surprised, I was planning on not liking the taste very much but I actually don’t mind it at all. Since I have so many dandelions growing in my yard I will be experimenting with other recipes like dandelion salad and wine. Stay tuned.