Dandelions are found on all continents and have been gathered since prehistory for culinary purposes. The early colonists brought the dandelion to America from Europe. They used all parts of the plant. You can collect dandelion leaves in the early spring, before the flowers appear. This is when they’re the tastiest. They can be harvested a second time in late fall. Picked during the summer months they have a bitter taste. After a frost, the bitterness disappears. Dandelions growing in rich, moist soil, with the broadest leaves and largest roots, are the tastiest. Select the youngest individuals. Some people like to eat the greens from spring to fall, when they’re very bitter. To make leaves more palatable, they are often blanched to remove bitterness.
Dandelion greens are wonderful in salads, or steamed. They taste like chicory and endive. To cook dandelion greens, wash them well with water. Put them in a pan of water and bring to a boil. Let them boil for five minutes, drain the water and season with salt and butter. Eat them hot. If the taste is too strong, gather the bloom buds and cook them with the leaves to smooth out the taste.
A perennial plant, its leaves will grow back if the taproot is left intact. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion drink. Dandelion is one of the ingredients of root beer.
Dandelions leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.
Historically, dandelion was prized for a variety of medicinal properties. Dandelion is used as folk remedies in North America, Mexico and China. It was used to treat infections, bile and liver problems and as a diuretic. Dandelion is a natural diuretic that increases urine production by promoting the excretion of salts and water from the kidney. Dandelion may be used for a wide range of conditions requiring mild diuretic treatment, such as poor digestion, liver disorders, and high blood pressure. Dandelion is a source of potassium, a nutrient often lost through the use of other natural and synthetic diuretics.
Now I am sure most of you out there know what a dandelion, and dandelion greens, look like. If you do not, make sure you follow the first rule of foraging and POSITIVELY IDENTIFY YOUR PLANT