Dandelions

Dandelions are not native to the Northwest US, but they sure are plentiful. Sometimes I dig up dandelion clumps in the vegetable beds and give them to our chickens – who will eat just about anything green. They’ll eat them down to the root in half an hour. But when they are actually roaming around the yard, they’re too busy digging up bugs and worms to be bothered eating dandelions – so it seems to be a food to toss in the coop after gardening.

Humans can eat dandelions too. You may have heard that the greens are edible in salads or cooked too – young leaves are best, before the flowers bloom. Doug Benoliel’s Northwest Foraging states that the leaves are less bitter if you “blanch” them first – not by putting them in hot water, but by covering them with a board or something. He doesn’t say for how long to do this though.

But never fear! The flowers will appear. Then you can make tea with dried flowers or wine with fresh/frozen flowers. Then you can dig up the root, wash it, dry it, grind it up, and use it for a hot drink. Dandelions have also been used as a hops substitute in beermaking (though hops are generally used because they help the beer last longer – and you can definitely grow hops in Seattle).

Basically, dandelions are amazing except that they are a pesky weed! But if you make good use of it, maybe it won’t bother you as much.

dandelions