How to Cook with Dandelions
How can we use different parts of this common flower in our food?
This Lesson Plan is part the Nutrition Module of SustainEd Farms' virtual programming.
Dandelions are often regarded as weeds when they are spotted in yards, yet these common flowers can be (and have been) used for centuries as a source of food (which provides antioxidants, and is a mechanism for regulating blood sugar and reducing cholesterol), In this lesson, we give a demonstration using [nearly!] all parts of the plant to produce something edible: tea, salad greens, and cookies! While COVID-19 continues to disrupt supply chains -- including impacts on food availability -- consider foraging for food in your own backyard to make a delicious treat.
Students will be able to...
Identify and harvest dandelions for eating safely
Make tea, salad greens, and cookies using different parts of dandelions
dandelion /ˈdandlˌīən/ noun. - a plant in the daisy family with a small but bright yellow flower, which is often regarded as a weed
1. Gather your materials. You will need the following supplies:
dandelions (see below for amounts) · scissors · kitchen supplies
For salad greens: dandelion leaves (~ 1-2 cups) · salad ingredients, as desired
For cookies: dandelion flowers (~ ½ - 1 cup petals) · butter (1 cup) · sugar (½ cup) · flour (2 ½ cups) · salt (½ teaspoon)
For tea: dandelion roots (~ 1 tablespoon) · water (1 cup)
2. Watch the following YouTube video to see a demonstration of how to use dandelions for food. Then, follow along with the remainder of the lesson by reading the steps below.
3. Harvest several dandelions from a safe location. When picking dandelions, it is important to know if they have been treated with unknown chemicals since they may pose health risks. For this reason, it is recommended that you harvest dandelions from a familiar location (home, for instance) where there is less of a chance that the dandelions have been exposed to potentially dangerous pesticides or herbicides. Dandelions can be identified by their small but bright yellow flowers, a soft and thin stem, and their jagged green leaves. Harvest dandelion leaves by removing them with your hands from the base of the plant (the larger the leaf, the more bitter the taste, generally). To harvest dandelion flowers, pluck the flower from the stem. In order to harvest dandelion roots, dig the soil out near the base of a plant until the main root can be identified; then, pull below this point to obtain as much of the root as possible. The roots must be dried out before use, so remove them from the rest of the plant with scissors, and set them on a dry surface in a warm location for 1-2 days (or bake them for 2-3 hours at 350 °F).
4. For salad greens:
Harvest 2-3 cups of salad greens (2-3 handfuls).
Separate the leaves from the other plant parts.
Rinse the leaves under water, and let dry.
Place the greens in a bowl, and top with other ingredients as desired (dressing, vegetables, nuts, fruits, etc.). Enjoy!
5. For shortbread cookies:
Harvest enough flowers to gather ½ - 1 cup of dandelion petals.
Separate the flowers from the other plant parts.
Rinse the flowers under water, and let dry.
Remove the yellow petals of the flower with your hands, and discard the green portions (compost).
In a mixing bowl, combine the 1 cup of softened butter and ½ cup of sugar until thoroughly mixed.
Add the dandelion petals to the butter and sugar mixture and combine until mixed.
Add 2 ½ cups of flour and ½ teaspoon salt to the other ingredients, and mix (pro tip: consider adding some lemon zest for some extra flavor).
Dump the contents of the bowl onto a clean surface (preferably onto parchment paper), and roll the dough into a single mass.
Roll the dough into a log (you can use the parchment to help), and place it into a refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Heat the oven to 325 °F.
Once the dough has cooled, cut the log at ½ - 1 inch increments and space the cookies evenly on top of a baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet in the oven for 18 - 22 minutes, and check on the cookies periodically.
Remove the cookies once they have turned golden brown. Enjoy!
6. For tea:
Harvest at least 1 tablespoon of dandelion roots (they may shrink when they dry).
After letting the roots dry for 1 - 2 days (at this point, they should feel brittle and hollow), place 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of dandelion roots into a pot.
Bring the pot to a boil, and then lower the heat to let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Use a strainer (or the lid of a pot) to remove the roots after 20 minutes of simmering. Drain the liquid into a container for consumption. Enjoy!
Download the PDF version of this lesson plan: