So many people view dandelions as a nuisance that ruins the appearance of their yards when they can be used as powerful medicinal herbs. True, dandelions might not be the most beautiful flower, but they are pretty in their own simple way. More than that, they’re valuable for their healing properties. In times simpler than our own, many took to nature more often to find yummy or helpful plants to aid them. Dandelions are one such plant.
Here are some of Dandelion’s great qualities:
The leaves bitter flavor stimulates healthy digestion
The roots, stems, and leaves of the dandelion exude a white sticky resin when injured. Applied directly to warts daily or, preferably, several times a day, this resin slowly dissolves them.
The roots contain choline, a liver stimulant. They make wonderful colon cleansing and detoxifying medications because any time digestion is improved, the absorption of nutrients and the removal of wastes from the body improves as well — Rough dry skin and acne, constipation, gas and bloating, frequent headaches, and premenstrual syndrome are all potential symptoms of an overburdened liver.
One of the many ancient practices involved gathering dandelions early, after the spring’s first warm spell, the leaves and roots are used as a spring tonic and to stimulate digestion and vitality after a long winter. Many health website will offer dandelion tea as a digestion aid or a well being booster, but there is no need to buy these flowers. As long as you grow a non-toxic, pesticide free yard, then you can harvest these amazing flowers for free every year. There are many ways to prepare these flowers. Check them out below 👍
1. Dandelion Infused Oil
Dandelion flower infused oil is often used in recipes designed to soothe and heal chapped or cracked skin. It’s also helpful for sore muscles and other aches and pains. Shelf life of strained infused oil is around 1 year. To make it, fill a canning jar about half-way with dried dandelion flowers. Cover with about twice as much as your favorite carrier oil, or to the top of the jar. (Suggested oils include sunflower, olive, sweet almond, apricot kernel, avocado, hemp and so forth.) For a quick infusion: Set the uncovered jar down into a small saucepan filled with a few inches of water. Heat over a low burner for a few hours, keeping a close eye that the water doesn’t evaporate out. Remove from heat and strain. The quick infusion is the best way to infuse coconut oil. For a slower, more traditional infusion: Cap the jar of dried dandelion flowers and oil and tuck away in a cabinet for around 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally as you remember to. When the infusing time has passed, strain. For an alternative option: You could also set the jar of dandelion flowers and oil in a sunny windowsill for several days to a week to jump-start the infusion. (Don’t store for long periods in sunlight though, as it tends to fade flowers and herbs over time.
2. Dandelion Flower Salve
Dandelion flower infused oil makes this salve extra soothing for:sore muscles, achy & arthritic joints, and rough, chapped skin. Dandelion salve is especially ideal for those who work outdoors and with their hands a lot!
3. Dandelion Vinegar
Dandelions are full of minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron and and one of the best ways to extract those is via vinegar. For this project, you’ll use fresh dandelion flowers mixed with leaves and stems. To make: Gather fresh dandelion blossoms and leaves, rinse them well, and fill a jar quite full of them, but don’t pack too tightly. Pour apple cider vinegar over the fresh plant matter until the jar is filled. Cover the top of the jar with wax paper or plastic wrap and then a lid. (This added layer keeps the acidity of the vinegar from eating away at metal lids.) Place the covered jar in a dark cabinet and store for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain and it’s ready to use!
Here are a few ideas for using dandelion vinegar:
-dilute with equal parts water and use as a hair rinse
-make an oxymel, or sweet & sour herbal syrup
-dilute with water and dab on itchy bug bites
-pour 1 cup of vinegar into a bath along with 1 cup of Epsom salts for achy tired muscles
-make a homemade vinaigrette: Combine 3 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons dandelion vinegar, 1 tablespoon crumbled bacon, 1/2 tablespoon chopped onion, 1 teaspoon maple syrup and salt and pepper to taste. Shake together in a jar and let stand for twenty or thirty minutes so the flavors meld together. Shake again and pour over your salad. Yum! (Use white wine vinegar for a milder taste.)
4. Traditional Scandinavian Dandelion Syrup with Green Apples
you will need:
-about 50 dandelion flowers (only the yellow petals, use scissors to cut the green off)
-500 grams of chopped green apples (this equaled almost 3 apples for me)
-optional: 1 stalk of chopped rhubarb (I didn’t have any, so left out)
-1 liter of water (1 quart)
-about 500 grams of sugar
-juice of one lemon
If you use organic apples, you don’t have to peel them. Put the apples, dandelion flowers, rhubarb, juice of lemon and water in a pot and let it simmer for half an hour. Pour the mass through linen (strain), so the juice is clear, it’s beautifully yellow. Weigh the juice and pour it back into the pot. Use the same amount of sugar as the juice weighs.(*One cup of sugar is about 200 grams.) Bring it to a boil, until it thickens. Be careful not to let it boil for too long, it must not change color. Pour the syrup into scalded glasses and voila, the syrup is done. It’s perfect on yogurt or pancakes. You can also use it for oven baked beetroot, carrots, potatoes or so, just pour some syrup over the vegetables and into the oven, it tastes awesome!!
Spread the dandelions out on a clean or paper towels in a single layer to air dry. Ten fill a canning jar halfway with dandelions, then fill the rest of the way up with oil. I like using sunflower oil since it’s especially helpful for damaged skin. You can also use olive, sweet almond, avocado, hemp, and other such light oils. For a faster infusion: Set the oil and dandelion filled jar down into a pan of gently warmed water. Let the jar stay in the heated water, with the burner set to low, for a few hours then remove, cool, and strain. Keep a close eye on things to make sure the oil doesn’t overheat. For the longer method: Cover the jar and set in a warm place for about four weeks before straining. A sunny windowsill works well. (NOTE: While dandelion infused oil is wonderful for making your own DIY body care projects, it’s not meant to be used as a food source or for cooking purposes.) Once your oil is finished, you’re ready to make your dandelion lotion bars! They are super simple to make. If you can melt chocolate, you can make these. Now to make the Lotion Bars:
-1 part beeswax</span
-1 part shea butter (or mango butter)
-1 part dandelion infused oil
-a few drops of lavender essential oil, optional
Measure out the beeswax, shea butter, and dandelion oil into a canning jar or heatproof container. I use a recycled tin can for this project for ease of cleanup.
Set the container of ingredients down into a pan containing an inch or two of almost simmering water, creating a makeshift double boiler.
Allow the water to indirectly heat the contents until the beeswax is melted. Overheated shea butter can get grainy, so keep a close eye on the mixture and remove from heat as soon as it appears melted.
Optional: add a few drops of lavender or other skin safe essential oil, but I often just leave these plain.
6. Dandelion Tea
Dandelion tea can be made by packing fresh flowers and leaves into a mason jar and pouring simmering water over them. Let the tea infuse until it’s cool enough to drink then strain. It is a classic spring herbal tonic. It helps purify and detox the blood and and is useful for helping the secondary symptoms of a sluggish system such as acne and constipation. While it can be helpful for some digestive issues, use caution if you have ulcers or chronic health issues and consult a medical professional before using. Dosage for the tea is one to three cups per day, starting with a low amount and working your way up since it has laxative and diuretic properties your body may need to adjust to.
7. Dandelion Tincture
Tinctures are one of the best ways to preserve the benefits of dandelions. While this form does contain alcohol, it’s so concentrated that the end dose is similar to the alcohol content of some cough syrups. The dosage is counted in drops instead of cups. If you don’t consume alcohol, use dandelion vinegar for similar properties. To make a tincture, dig up a dandelion plant – root, leaves, flower, stem… the whole thing! Rinse it well then chop it as finely as you can. Place the pieces in a mason jar (jar size depends on how much plant you’ve gathered up) then cover with an 80 proof or higher alcohol like vodka. It’s a good idea to keep a layer of plastic wrap or wax paper between the tincture and the lid, if it’s metallic. Cap and store in a cool dark place for 2 to 3 weeks before straining, making sure you shake the jar every so often. While traditional herbalists recommend a dosage of up to 30 to 40 drops, three or four times per day, I dose my family in much smaller amounts, never more than 4 or 5 drops at a time. (Tinctures are powerful things!) Use this tincture to help with constipation or a sluggish liver that leads to poor digestion and acne.
8. Dandelion Cupcakes
Pick a handful or two of dandelions then wash and dry them thoroughly. Pull off just the yellow petals (the green has a stronger bitter taste you don’t really want in a cupcake.) Mix up your favorite cupcake recipe, stir in the yellow petals, then bake like normal. Let cool, frost and add an edible flower or two on top for decoration. Some flower ideas for topping: pansies, violets, violas, dianthus, lilac, bachelor buttons, hollyhocks and roses.
There are many other uses of Dandelions and I do not claim to know all of them, but you have a few uses now. Go out and pick you some Dandelion flowers and be sure to share all of your awesome projects you try with them. Feel free to comment pictures of your attempts.
-Thanks for reading 🙂