Liquid Sunshine, Dandelion Tea!   3 comments

  

Nothing says spring like the first, tall glass of iced Liquid Sunshine, Dandelion tea.  As if it’s delightful, honey, floral flavor weren’t enough, Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, tea is very beneficial.

 

“The name of the genus, Taraxacum, is derived from the Greek taraxos (disorder), and akos (remedy), on account of the curative action of the plant. A possible alternative derivation of Taraxacum is suggested in, “The Treasury of Botany: ‘The generic name is possibly derived from the Greek taraxo (“I have excited” or “caused”) and achos (pain), in allusion to the medicinal effects of the plant. The use of this tea is efficacious in bilious affections, and is also much approved of in the treatment of dropsy.” (1) 

And, its delicious!

 

While all parts are edible, Dandelion flowers are my favorite.  Truth is, I don’t care for the greens; much, at all!  There, I’ve said it.  Although minions of Dandelion enthusiasts are gasping at the thought, I find the greens a bit unpleasant. However, I love the flowers, fresh or dried; in salad, or tea, as a cooked vegetable, and in baked goods.

It is interesting to note their similarity to some Wild Lettuce flowers.  Wild Lettuces Lactuca spp. blooms later in the year, are, also edible and taste ok.  The flower flavor resembles Dandelion; except it’s kind of cheesy!  In “Nature’s Garden” Samuel Thayer does a great job of differentiating Dandelions and the Wild Lettuces; and provides a dichotomous “Key to the Lettuce-Dandelion Group” (2).

Most edible plant parts have their own distinct flavor.  The flower petals, the green, aerial parts and the roots or rhizomes will each vary; significantly.  Flower petals are usually sweet and, well, floral!  Although, there are exceptions; as in Day-Lily, Hemerocallis fulva, petals, which taste like beans, albeit sweetish beans and Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata, flowers, which taste just like Garlic Mustard!  The green, aerial part flavors range from mild and spinach like to shiver inducing bitter.  And roots and rhizomes can taste similar to either, or neither!

When eating flowers I like to separate the parts.  After a good rinsing and thorough insect inspection, I let the blooms air dry on an absorbent cotton towel.  Then I turn each one over and pinch off the greens holding the petals to the stem; along with the stem. Although, this leaves a bit of green on a dandelion, it’s enough to take away most of the bitterness and leave the honey flavored petals intact in a blossom; ready to pop in my mouth, or a salad, or be dipped in tempura batter and fried.  For many other edible flowers this is all the work needed to use the petals for making tea; as with Forsythia, Forsythia spp, or Violets, Viola spp.

However, Dandelion requires another step, before making tea. I separate the petals from their green bracts, to insure the sweetest possible treat.  This way all the bitterness is gone and little to no sweetener will be necessary in my tea.  At first this may seem daunting, but once you get the gist, the job goes by swiftly; and is well worth the time and effort invested.  And, BONUS, you get to suck the honey flavored pollen, off of your fingers!

Now my dandelion petals are ready to make tea; or dry, for later use. I like to air dry all plant materials.  The unused parts go into the compost.  Surely an electric dehydrator can be used for some drying.  I can not give advice where mechanical means are used.  I like free, carbon free tea!  Drying times vary according to the size and thickness of the petals.  I turn them twice a day and keep them away from direct sunlight.

Liquid Sunshine (Dandelion Tea):

2 cups fresh dandelion blossoms

2 quarts boiling water

A wedge of citrus fruit, optional, but, a wonderful addition!

Pick the flowers early in the day.  Pick off leaves and stem as close to the flower as possible.  Rinse off any dirt or visitors.  Allow to air dry, then separate the petals from the bracts and stems.  Cover with boiling water, and set aside, in a warm, sunny window for 2 days.  Strain flowers and discard.  Add fruit, and refrigerate.  Makes ½ gallon of tea.  I love to start my day with a tall glass of Liquid Sunshine; and refrain from drinking it later in the day, as its diuretic properties will cause me to get up ½ dozen times, during the night.  Dandelion tea can be made into ice cubes and stored in ziplock bags, in the freezer, for Liquid Sunshine, in winter.

“A chemical compound known as helenin which is found in the flowers of the dandelion may be the cure for those with a problem of reduced vision in the dark – night blindness, usually treated using large doses of vitamin A. The reports carried by the journal of the American Medical Association for June 23, 1951, showed that the blossoms of the dandelion herb contain large amounts of the vitamins A and the vitamin B2 (riboflavin) beside the substance known as helenin. Rheumatism is cured by the remedies made from the dandelion, it can also be used in the treatment of badly affected arthritic joints.” (3)

How sweet is that!

 

Dandelion Smoothie

3/4 cup Liquid Sunshine (Dandelion tea)

3/4 cup good yogurt

A handful of fruit (maybe a cup) (this smoothie was made with blackberries, strawberries, ½ a peeled and pitted orange and several grapes)

Toss all ingredients into a blender and liquefy.  Serve in a tall glass and enjoy, Liquid Sunshine, plus!  Makes 1 serving (about two cups).  This is my idea of a fast food meal.

On leaflady.org, Peter Gail writes, “Suppose your doctor tells you, on your next visit, that he has just discovered a miracle drug which, when eaten as a part of your daily diet or taken as a beverage, could, depending on the peculiarities of your body chemistry: prevent or cure liver diseases, such as hepatitis or jaundice; act as a tonic and gentle diuretic to purify your blood, cleanse your system, dissolve kidney stones, and otherwise improve gastro-intestinal health; assist in weight reduction; cleanse your skin and eliminate acne; improve your bowel function, working equally well to relieve both constipation and diarrhea; prevent or lower high blood pressure; prevent or cure anemia; lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half; eliminate or drastically reduce acid indigestion and gas buildup by cutting the heaviness of fatty foods; prevent or cure various forms of cancer; prevent or control diabetes mellitus; and, at the same time, have no negative side effects and selectively act on only what ails you. If he gave you a prescription for this miracle medicine, would you use it religiously at first to solve whatever the problem is and then consistently for preventative body maintenance?  All the above curative functions, and more, have been attributed to one plant known to everyone, Taraxacum officinale, which means the ‘Official Remedy for Disorders.’ ” (4) 

Now, what could be better than that?!?!?!?!?

Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, is a flowering, biennial, in the family Asteraceae, with leaves 3-10 inches, or longer, simple and basal, entire or radically lobed, forming a rosette above the taproot. Each rosette offers a crown and then several flowering stems at a time.

Dandelion flowers are bright yellow to orange, 1-2 inches in diameter, open during the day, and closed at night. The heads are borne singly on a hollow stem, rising 2-12 inches, or more, above the leaves.  Stems, leaves and root all bleed latex when broken. The flower does not.

The flower head is attached to the stem by 2 sets of bracts. The upper, flower head bracts stand erect until the seeds mature, then flex down to allow the seeds to fly; the lower bracts always face down.

Quick, make a wish, before they’re gone!

For Dandelion Tempura, click here:

https://forageporage.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/foraged-feasting/

A great Dandelion lover’s book is Peter Gail’s “A Dandelion Celebration”.  (5)

It’s chock full of recipes and Dandelion Lore. 

  L’chiam!

Thanx for stopping by.  See you soon.

REFERENCES:

(1) http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/d/dandel08.html

(2) “NATURE’S GARDEN”, Samuel Thayer.    

    Forager’s Harvest.  2010

(3) http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_dandelion.htm

(4) http://www.leaflady.org/health_benefits_of_dandelions.htm

(5) “The Dandelion Celebration-The Guide to Unexpected Cuisine.” Peter A. Gail, Ph.D.

Goosefoot Acres, Inc. 1989

Advertisements

3 responses to “Liquid Sunshine, Dandelion Tea!

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Pingback: Pass the Milkweed, Please! « Forageporage's Blog

  2. Pingback: Gathering Goldenrod « Forageporage's Blog

  3. Reblogged this on Forageporage's Blog and commented:

    Dandytime! YES!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: