It’s dandelion season! And if you’ve not mowed them all down yet, my bet is your yard is covered with them just like ours. Dandelions get a bad rap, though. Don’t look at them as weeds. Look at them as a happy little makeshift herb garden, all over the place! Did you know that the entire plant is edible and that it has so much medicinal value? Well, I didn’t until just few days ago. Sure, I knew you could make a salad from the leaves but I thought that was just about all they are worth. Wrong! Doing a little online digging I came up with so many ways to use the whole plant, right down to it’s roots, which can be roasted and used like coffee or use them as a red or pink natural dye. Of course, the flowers make a lovely yellow dye.
If you’d like to try eating them you can learn about when to pick here and tips on cooking the greens. They’re also great raw in a simple salad. That link also tells you how to fry and even pickle the flowers. Pickled dandelions… might be fun to try! Read through that link. It’s particularly fascinating. Near the bottom read about making an infusion to be drunk at mealtimes to aid digestion.
OK, so we’re dying with dandelions and eating them, even drinking an infusion for digestion… what else? Well, the health benefits are numerous. I’m not going to repeat them all here as they been laid out quite nicely already here and here. Who would have thought?! Aren’t plants amazing? To take advantage of some of those wonderful benefits my little ones and I set out to gather as many dandelion flowers as we could to make dandelion infused oil. This is such a great activity to introduce children to the healing power of plants and actually using them. From start to finish a young child can make the whole thing themselves. This technique works for many plants.
So get out there and gather those dandelions! All you need to make the infused oil is the flowers. Make sure you are not gathering from an area that has been sprayed with chemicals! Also leave those near animal dropping. Shake them off to get out any little bugs.
Once you’ve gathered as much as you want (no specific amounts here) pluck the stem off and tear them open to loosen the petals. Place them in a clean jar and then fill to the top of the flowers with vegetable oil. We used grape seed because I like that it’s light and odorless, but you can use any. Stir them about just a bit and tightly close the jar. You might want to label it with the date and then you’re going to let it sit for 4-6 weeks in either a sunny window or a dark cupboard, your choice. Check it the next day to make sure the oil is still above the flowers. The flowers absorb some of the oil and any air will cause mold. When it’s finished ‘brewing’ strain out the flowers with a cheese cloth and put the clean oil in a sealed container and label. The site said this infusion will last for a few years, especially if refrigerated or in a cool place.
I’m looking forward to making a salve with ours. Just add a little beeswax! What else have you made with dandelions?
Julie Hunter is a wife and mama, raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.