TBT: Dandelions for Wine, Salads, Bees, and Beauty

Spring is coming! Soon the snow will melt for good, buds will emerge, birds will nest, and dandelions will decorate green lawns with bright yellow polka dots. Long ago, when I wrote the post below, I branded myself the "Recessionista Genie" and lauded the joys and benefits of an organic dandelion crop. Since then, the trend (at least in my kind of suburbia) has continued away from Hank Hill lawns and toward colorful, maximalist, slightly wild urban landscapes that support pollinators and healthier ecosystems.

We are still all about the dandelion life.


Dandelions for Wine, Salads, Bees, and Beauty


I don't mean to brag or anything... but I have had a bumper crop of dandelions already this year.


As all children under the age of five know, dandelions are pretty flowers. They are sunshiny yellow and signal the beginning of warm weather. Since the 1950s, the era of the suburban "postage stamp" Astro-turfy lawn, we have been taught to see dandelions and other beautiful spring flowers such as sweet clover, wild strawberries, and bluebells, as blights on the smooth perfection of a manicured, toxic-chemical-sprayed, gas-mowed, Keep-Off-the-Grass type of lawn.

I like to think of spring flowers in my grass as freckles or beauty marks. Obsessing over these "imperfections" is sad because they are truly charming and natural. And they aren't just for pretty--dandelions feed bees, which pollinate all your plants and produce honey. They are useful in many ways, and you don't need to have any gardening skills at all to grow them! I swear, if God dropped manna from heaven onto most suburbanites' front lawns, they would shake their heads, say "What a mess," and get out their power sprayers to clear it off.

Dandelions are an old-time staple of authentic American cuisine. They are highly nutritious as cooked greens or raw, in a salad. My husband had a big dandelion salad with dinner last night, and he ate cooked dandelion greens in his omelet this morning. If you want to try them out, eat the yellow heads and the leaves--the stems are full of tannins and quite bitter, so strip them out. Dandelion greens have a strong flavor, so you may want to mix a few with your favorite lettuces and herbs.

Next summer, we plan to start making dandelion wine. I will never forget one beautiful summer day we spent at a 4th of July croquet party where a guest brought a batch of his homemade dandelion wine. It was sweet and golden, like sunshine in a bottle.

For more dandelion summertime nostalgia, read Ray Bradbury's semi-autobiographical novel Dandelion Wine. Delicious!


Happy flower gathering!

Comments

  1. Well said... I have a bumper crop too! :) And I've been threatening to feed them to my family... an omelet sounds perfect. They won't know what hit them until they've partaken!

    Thanks for the shout out on Growing!.... This looks like a great blog too!

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  2. Ahhhh dandelions. I remember screaming and crying many, many years ago when they mowed the lawn and ::got rid of:: my gorgeous yellow dandelions. I was heartbroken. My mom calmly tried to explain that the dandelions would return, that it was just a haircut of sorts and they'd be back soon.

    The charm of picking dandelions still hasn't worn off for me.

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