Monday, 29 September 2008

Dandelion - A Very Useful Weed

Dandelion is the scourge of gardeners from what I remember but what kind of gardener tries to get rid of a herb that is delicious and good for you? I've been there trying to achieve a garden that has manicured lawns and boarders and the sight of dandelions or any other weed raised my blood pressure. But this was a long time ago and fighting against nature now seems absolutely pointless.

Dandelions still remain a simply a garden pest hard to eradicate without chemicals or backbreaking work. However, dandelion's roots and leaves have been used as medicines for countless years past to treat digestive disorders, painful joints, temperatures and fevers along with skin disorders. The salad leaves of the plant are rich in natural health giving vitamins A, C, D, and B-complex. Dandelion has many natural minerals in its compounds including iron something which many people lack in their modern diets.

Dandelion leaves make good supplements for elderly or pregnant women or elderly women. The dandelion root can be an appetite stimulant with many herbalists using dandelion to detoxify the liver and gallbladder. Alongside this dandelion can treat pneumonia, bronchitis, and other aliments associated with respiratory disorders. As a natural tonic for general health dandelion is a good remedy and benefits the kidneys, stomach and other organs.

With many other positive effects that that dandelion gives the dandelion root has been pushed forward as a healthier alternative to drinking coffee.

The dandelion provides a lovely addition to salads with its strong, sometimes bitter taste, I have found it an addictive herb and often use it a stand-alone salad dressed with a little oil, vinegar and salt. It can be boiled and used like spinach or even used as a base for roast meats, this is delicious with the dandelion being cooked in the meat juices!

Dandelion Salad Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 paprika
  • 1 pepper
  • 4 slices of thick bacon
  • 1 dandelion

Method:
  1. Carefully wash and prepare the dandelion as you would lettuce. Roll in cloth and pat dry.
  2. Then put into a salad bowl and place in warm place.
  3. Cut bacon in small pieces, fry quickly and drop over the dandelions.
  4. Put the butter and cream into a skillet and melt over a slow heat.
  5. Beat eggs, add salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar and mix with slightly warm cream mixture.
  6. Pour into skillet and under increased heat, stir until dressing becomes thick like custard.
  7. Take off and pour piping hot over dandelion. Stir thoroughly.

(Source: Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book - Fine Old Recipes, Culinary Arts Press, 1936.)

The dandelion flowers are a great source of pollen for bees but they have uses for us as well. Dandelion is a favourite ingredient to home made dandelion wine.

Why not try some dandelion, it grow everywhere and is best in the spring and early summer months. I even have my own dandelion cultivated area on my farm, that technically means it's not a weed!


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