Just the mention of the name will set my wife into a frenzy and she will instinctively reach for the anti-dandelion granules and head for the yard. Now this is all well and good when you’re living in the city and it’s like shoveling water up hill if you live in the country since the seeds are in the air 24/7 and replanting what you’ve tried to kill.
When I was growing up we lived on the outskirts of a small town and we never had dandelion one in our yard and most of the neighbors didn’t either. Now how could that happen? The answer is simple; we ate them along with other ‘spring’ greens that grew in our yard and in the surrounding fields, meadows, and along the railroad tracks near our home.
Give my mom and my aunts each a butcher knife and a grocery sack and they were off and picking come early spring to catch the dandelions, lamb’s quarters, plantain, miners’ lettuce, mustard, poke and whatever other edible wild plant dared to peek its head above ground right after the snow melted off.
Why the interest in eating ‘greens’? I think it’s because we ate mostly greasy fried starchy foods all winter. There were no green leafy salads or ‘greens’ like spinach or kale at that time of year which have a natural keep regular laxative effect on your system. Without going regularly a lot of people got sick and the un-sick medicine at that time was castor oil or croton oil along with some other home remedies which were anything but pleasant to take or to live through the results.
Even with the laxative effect of eating spring dandelions (Taraxacum) I find that I crave the ‘taste’ of a good mess of dandelions once in a while and the easiest way to ‘fix’ them is to just cut them off at the root, wash them to get rid of the sand and dirt, and then pick the best leaves for the pot. Add water, bring to a boil until they are wilted, and then drain and serve with butter or a little vinegar. Decorate the dish of dandelions with some boiled egg slices.
After the dandelions started to bloom mom would pick the blossom parts, slip off the stems, wash them under the faucet, shake dry, dip in batter, and fry until brown. She would serve the fried blossoms with syrup or ketchup depending on your personal taste. She even ‘stretched’ our scrambled eggs by adding the blossoms to the beaten eggs before frying.
If she had plenty of blossoms dad would take some and make dandelion wine but I never got his recipe. I’m sure it was good but so far I prefer the boiled dandelion greens come spring even though I don’t need the laxative effect they present. Try a few of the plants prepared like I suggest and then make up your own mind as to whether or not you want more. As with any wild edible plant, eat a little to start with and beware of any allergic reactions.