Backyard Herb: How To Harvest Dandelions And Use Them
Most Americans think of dandelions as weeds when, in fact, they are a superfood growing in your own backyard. Every part of the plant can be used somehow, but the roots and leaves are most commonly harvested as herbs. Dandelion contains various nutrients and the leaves and root are particularly nutritious, containing vitamin A, C, and K as well as B-vitamins. The leaves and root are also rich in minerals including zinc, potassium, iron, magnesium, choline, and calcium. Dandelion is truly a treasure trove of nutrition.
When and where to harvest dandelion roots
Dandelion root can be harvested in either the spring or the fall. The time of year in which it is harvested impacts its medicinal qualities as well as its taste and texture. For optimum medicinal purposes, it is best to harvest in the fall, when the roots are long. Dandelion roots can reach up to one foot in length, finding nutrients deep underground. The depth of the root is responsible for its high levels of nutrients. Another benefit to harvesting in the fall is that insoluble fibre insulin levels are higher, whereas fructose levels are lower.
If you are harvesting dandelion root more for culinary purposes than medicinal, it is better to harvest in the spring when roots are tender, before the plants blossom. In early spring, the roots are less fibrous, bitter, and chewy; they are also higher in taraxacin, a substance which stimulates bile production and improves liver function.
Bear in mind that dandelion is an effective detoxifier. For this reason, it is important that you only harvest plants that have not been treated with chemicals and that are far from busy roads and other polluted areas.
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