“What is a weed?” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote. “A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”
I’m going to do a mini series on edible plants we commonly think of as weeds. Knowing what’s edible in your area is not only useful in some Doomsday-type situation, but it can also save you some money and spice up your meals. Being able to walk into my yard and rustle up a salad that’s tasty, free, and completely foraged helps me feel in touch with the wee patch of nature behind my house.To kick this off I’m going to start with the most infamous weed in the U.S.: the dreaded dandelion. Monsanto would have you Round-Up-ing the shit out of these prolific yellow beauties, but you’re missing out on everything from food, to medicine, and even wine. Yup. Wine.
A short history of the dandelion:
Around thirty million years ago this little treasure popped up in Asia.
Around the 10th century it began being used medicinally in Asia and by Arabian doctors, it was also prized in Egypt. It was given the name Taraxacum, which are Greek words for “disorder” and “remedy.”
The modern name Dandelion actually stems from the French “Dents de lion”, which means teeth of the lion, most likely referring to the jagged edges of the leaves.
It boasts an impressive lists of phytochemicals and nutrients, including:
Beta-Carotene, beta-sitosterol, caffeic acid, cryptoxanthin, lutein, mannitol, p-courmaric acid, saponin, stigmasterol, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium selenium, zinc and a host of vitamins.
Before eating dandelions on the regular it’d be smart to talk to your doctor about it if you have a medical condition or are taking prescription medications, since it acts as a diuretic and can interact with your meds.
The best time to harvest dandelion root and leaves is before they flower, when they’re the most tender and sweet. It’s still fine to harvest after they flower, but they might be a little bitter.
As it turns out, there’s a bevy of helpful dandelion videos online.
I’ve also seen them dipped in egg and flour then fried.
And finally, WINE.
LIKE DRINKING PURE SUNSHINE.