Every afternoon for the last four days we’ve taken an eight-quart kettle and two knives and gone out to our meadow to “dig dandelions.” And yes, I’m talking about the common weed. In New England, we call it “digging,” but the dandelion isn’t really dug… we use the knife to cut the entire plant off just below the surface of the soil. We’re lucky to have a large meadow just filled with dandelions. In a couple of weeks when the plants we leave are in blossom, the meadow will be a field of brilliant yellow… and next year there will again be as many dandelions growing there as we will want to dig.

We New Englanders must really like our dandelions, because digging enough for a meal… or bigger quantities for canning or freezing… is a VERY time-consuming process. Cleaning the dandelions takes even more time… each one must be painstakingly cleaned to remove any dried grass or pine needles that are intertwined with the leaves. It’s a messy job we prefer to do outside, so we clean each dandelion as we dig it. The whole process has given us a pleasant couple of hours each day to relax and talk… plus the weather has been gorgeous… beautiful blue skies, bright sunshine, birds singing, and everything so green… for our country souls, what could be better than that?

Once the kettle is packed full and overflowing, we take the dandelions back to the house to wash out any dirt with several changes of water… grit left in dandelions is a horrible thing. Some people like the leaves raw in salads… we eat ours boiled until the leaves are tender. The old New England way was to cook dandelions with a piece of salt pork and season the greens at the table with a splash of vinegar… my father loved them that way. My family prefers them seasoned with just butter and salt. The cooked greens also freeze beautifully, and a good portion of the dandelions we’ve dug this year have gone right into our freezer.

Did you know that dandelions are a rich source of a number of vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, and the minerals iron, potassium, and zinc? Dandelions are good for you, but they are also delicious. Some people think dandelions will taste bitter, but if they are dug before the flowers open, and are properly cooked, there should be no bitter taste. We try to dig dandelions that have tiny buds… these buds, we think, are the absolute best!


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Comments

Christy

I adore dandelion greens, raw or cooked, but out here I can’t safely harvest any of those lovelies growing in my yard. Neighbors use chemicals so it just isn’t safe. Enjoy those!

BarbaraRyan

Why do you remove the plant just under the surface? Is it healthier for the plant?

Thanks!
BarbRyan

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

BarbRyan, we’ve always done it this way, but I never really thought much about why! The dandelion leaves grow in a rosette, so when you cut the plant off just below the surface, all the leaves stay attached and it’s easier to clean them. We usually trim off the end again after cleaning. Cutting the plant just below the surface like this leaves the root in the ground and this means the plant just keeps on producing… so yes, I guess this method is also healthier for the plant.

Jo

Dandelions and fiddleheads, too! It’s as if we crave greens in the Spring after the long Winter. Whatever it is I can never have enough! And, they are free!

Andi

I have never viewed dandelions as more than a pest. When I had seen the title of this post I had thought I would be seeing advise on how to kill them, not eat them!

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Andi, I would guess you are not a New Englander… :o) People here actually PLANT dandelions if they’re not “lucky” enough to have them growing wild!!!!

Donnell

I didn’t know that you could eat dandelions. How cool! I don’t know if I feel confident enough to dig them out of my yard though. There are so many other weeds growing there are well. 1/3 of an acre of weeds, basically, many of which are dandelions. I’ll have to go outside and look at them with new eyes.

MissNE

I remember how good a nice mess of greens tasted! You have made me hungry. I miss them and so many other things about New England.

Preston

If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn. ~Andrew Mason

Haunani

Did you know that Dandelion Greens are also great for urinary tract infections, or just keeping your internal bits healthy. :)

Bruce

I didn’t know that you could eat dandelions. How cool! I don’t know if I feel confident enough to dig them out of my yard though. There are so many other weeds growing there are well. 1/3 of an acre of weeds, basically, many of which are dandelions. I’ll have to go outside and look at them with new eyes.

Colleen Walker

Have any of you made pasta noodles out of dandelions, and if so, would you be so kind as to share the recipe? I cannot find one anywhere.

Blysse

I make dandelion noodles all the time, the same way I would make spinach noodles. I couldn’t find a recipe either, so I just substituted the same amount of dandelions for the spinach and this works wonderful for me. Hope this helps.

Blysse

I forgot to say that I can several pints of dandelions every spring and then I use the canned dandelions in my pasta. Just be sure to press the water out the same way you would with spinach. Otherwise your noodles will be too wet.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm

This is great! I have fields of organic dandelions. I made wine from them last year and would love to find another way to use them. Thanks!