One of the memories I have of my childhood, (I won’t call them fond so as to avoid deception), was that of my old grandma gathering a spring mix of greens for the family to eat. Now, to those of you who are less cultured, “greens” amongst the mountain people is actually an accumulation of any leafy weed that sprouts up from the recently thawed ground. For some reason, it was thought that fresh and tender equaled edible, and while that might have been true for the most part, it certainly didn’t equal palatable.
However, this isn’t true for dandelion greens. These are not only palatable, they are downright tasty and I’m actually surprised that they aren’t included in most spring mix salads you can get at the grocery store, considering their prevalence across the landscape.
In any event, here are three uses for the common dandelion that every serious outdoorsman or survivalist must know:
- They are edible. Both the yellow flowers and the leafy greens associated with the plant are food worthy. My favorite way to eat them is to have the flowers fried in batter like a hushpuppy (called fritters), and to have the greens freshly washed and sprinkled with vinegar and oil. I’ve also had them boiled like spinach with bacon and onion.
- They are potable. You can actually make a coffee of sorts out of the dandelion root. You can literally do this with any root, but dandelion coffee is pretty ok, compatible at least with chicory coffee, (neither is as good as the real thing). To make the dandelion coffee, you must finely chop the root and then parch it in a pan over low heat of a fire. When it is brown and brittle, grind it up as you would coffee beans and brew as you would coffee… it’ll get you through some cold nights.
- They have down that is multifunctional. Whenever the flower goes to seed it leaves a head of down that can be used to enhance your tinder bundle, or if gathered in enough quantity, add insulation to clothing or bedding to create dead air space.