Truly a delicious beverage, Dandelion Lemonade is refreshing. Served over crushed ice, this is a gourmet treat to the taste buds.
Dandelions are abundant everywhere I look this spring. Do you have some in your yard or in a neighboring lot? Most folks see these as just a weed. But they are so much more.
They are easy to spot. Look for the flowers; they have lovely yellow flowers that bloom spring, summer, and fall. You can also spot them by the leaves which are generally long, flat, and jagged.
Sometimes the flowers are on short stems and sometimes the stems are long. Dandelion is great at adapting to its surrounding conditions and conserving energy. If it has no competition and bright sunshine to grow in, the stems are generally short. But if it needs to send out long stems for its flowers to be taller than surrounding plants and reach the sunshine, it will do so.
But they only bloom for a couple of days per flower, then they quickly turn into these….
These are the pillowy seed heads ready to be carried by the wind to sow the seeds far and wide and grow lots more dandelions. They petals have turned into gliders that capture the wind and float the seed to a new destination. We don’t eat the flower petals once they have changed into this mature seed form.
My children love to pick dandelions and quite frequently surprise me with a lovely bouquet for the table. But they are worth their weight in gold as far as nutritional value is concerned. They are a useful food and as a super food home remedy too.
Here is an awesome look at the nutrients in 1 cup of fresh dandelion leaves: DANDELION GREENS RAW
Here is a great explanation of the benefits of using dandelion as a remedy: HEALTH BENEFITS Of DANDELIONS
I am not going to list out all the health benefits of using dandelions. There are hundreds! But there is one quick first aid tip I wanted to share that I have used on my own family. The juice inside of the stem can be used as a skin softener like lotion and to soothe burns and stings similar to how you would use aloe vera. This might come in handy when you are out camping! I am not a doctor and don’t prescribe remedies so research this with your medical provider and use at your own risk!
Wild Yeast from Dandelion
When I was in college, I took an economic botany class. It was one of my favorite classes I ever took. The class curriculum was basically learning where various foods come from, how it is used in the past, and how its use has changed over time.
One fun fact I learned in that class was that pioneers used to gather wild yeast from dandelions and /or wild grapes to use to make bread. You can gather your own wild yeast by making a simple sugar syrup and allowing the dandelion flowers to sit in it at room temperature for a couple of days. Then strain it and refrigerate the liquid and use in baking recipes. You can create a sour dough starter with it. You can create nutritious fermented beverages too. I plan to experiment with this soon and hope to write some articles about it.
I enjoy Dandelion Tea. I’ve purchased it in tea bags for years.
You can find it in any healthy food store in the tea isle. It comes in several brands.
I love the Traditional Medicines brand and use several of their different herbal teas for different uses (pregnancy tea, mothers milk tea, tummy ache tea, nighty night tea, sore throat tea, and I really like using their children’s teas for my kids).
But I like it the best when I can gather fresh dandelion leaves and make a big pot of fresh tea with them. It is so easy to make. I drink it cold like iced tea. I also drink it hot too. My favorite way to make fresh dandelion tea is to combine the fresh leaves and flower heads with other fresh herbs from my herb garden.
To make a simple and yummy fresh dandelion tea: Pick 1 quart of fresh dandelion leaves, and combine it with one quart of fresh leaves of mint, add a cup or so of parsley, lemon balm, and throw in a small handful of other fresh herbs from my herb garden when I have them on hand.
Bring water to a boil. Throw in all the fresh greens and herbs, shut off the heat, cover and let it sit for 30-45 minutes or so. Strain out the herbs. Refrigerate. Pour over ice to drink. I usually mix in a spoonful of raw honey or sucanat sugar to my cup when the mood strikes me. I enjoy drinking it hot too, especially in the wintertime.
Dandelion RAW GREENS
What about a green smoothie? Add young leaves or the juice of the young leaves to smoothies like you would add wheat grass juice or the leaves of kale or spinach. Try mixing it with ice, blue berries, a banana, some yogurt or kefir, and honey and blend it up for a nutritious green smoothie. Or just add in a few leaves to your favorite smoothie recipe.
You can eat the young leaves fresh in salads as a substitute for lettuce too.
Dandelion COOKED GREENS
You can cook the green leaves like you would cook spinach, turnip, kale, or collard greens. You can also add them to soups.
My Grandpa had a favorite way to eat them called wilted greens. My Grandma used to send me outside to pick fresh leaves. While I was picking, she fried some bacon
in an iron skillet. I would bring the fresh leaves into the house for her, then she washed them with cool water and added them on top of some bacon at the end of cooking. Then she would plate it up for Grandpa to eat for lunch with a big slice (I’m talking 1/2 inch thick slices) of garden fresh tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper. It was a complete meal for him. Yum!
You can also make dandelion coffee from the roots. You can buy this in a healthy food store or make it yourself. I have drank this in an herb coffee blend, but I have not tried it by itself. It is good in the herb blend and I enjoy drinking it. I plan to make homemade dandelion coffee soon and see if my family likes it.
Dandelion SUGAR SYRUP
For this recipe, collect two quarts of yellow dandelion flowers.
This is a fun activity for the children. Give them some containers and send them out to gather as many fresh dandelion flowers as they can.
Remind them to pick them from areas free from dogs, cats, and foot traffic. You want your flowers as clean and fresh as possible.
Rinse 1 quart of dandelion flower heads in cool water. Drain on a paper towel. Sometimes I remove the base of the flower and sometimes I don’t bother and use the whole flower head, especially in spring when the plant is less bitter. But if you want to prevent any chance of bitter taste, you can remove all green areas from the flower. Personally, I like to use some green from the flower and also from the leaves to add more nutritional value.
In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water, 2 cups natural sugar (or 1 cup natural sugar and 1 cup honey) to a boil. Add dandelion flowers. Let simmer on low for 1 hour.
Add two cut lemons. Allow to sit off heat for 30 minutes.
Strain. Carefully remove the dandelion flowers and lemons.
Reserve the strained liquid. This is your dandelion syrup.
How to use Dandelion Syrup:
Make lemonade. (see recipe below)
You can make lemonade right away, or refrigerate the syrup, or freeze the syrup for later use.
Another great option is to freeze the syrup in ice cubes.
Then later use these ice cubes in the blender to make a fun frozen treat. Like a dandelion snow cone. Just use the desired amount of frozen dandelion cubes with a little lemon juice and water in the blender to make a nice slushy.
Try adding these frozen syrup cubes to your smoothies for some extra nutrition.
You can also mix this into the lemonade and freeze to make a fun frozen dandelion lemonade.
Squeeze the juice of six (6) lemons into a gallon jar.
Add 4 cups of dandelion syrup (see recipe above).
Add filtered water to fill the jar the rest of the way.
Serve over ice.
Crushed ice is especially fun to crunch while sipping this ice cold dandelion lemonade. If you like it sweeter, feel free to add additional sugar, honey, or whatever you want to sweeten it to your tastes. (If you want a stronger and sweeter taste, then use all 8 cups of dandelion syrup you made in the first recipe, but we like it lighter and are able to make two batches of lemonade with our one recipe of syrup when we just add half of the syrup to our gallon of lemonade.)
Dandelion COLORING PAGES
For some extra fun to enhance the learning, how about some dandelion coloring pages for you to print, color, and enjoy.
Coloring Page 1
Coloring Page 2
Coloring Page 3
Stay tuned for a dandelion unit study. This is a fun project you can do with your kids to enhance their understanding of plants, flowers, botany, nature studies, foods, art, and more.
What do you think about using dandelions for food, for remedies, or is it just a weed to be removed from your manicured lawn? Or, have you studied dandelions in your homeschool? Please leave a comment below, thank you.
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