In the garden and meadows dandelion is common but often seen only as a weed.
But can you eat dandelions?
And if so, what do you have to consider?
Everything around the question of whether you can eat dandelions or not you will learn here!
You can eat any part of the dandelion, so from the root, to the leaves, to the bud or flower. However, care should be taken when eating the stalk, as the milky juice it contains can possibly cause stomach problems. The best time to harvest is in the spring before the first flowering, when the dandelion is still tender and mild tasting.
Is dandelion healthy?
Dandelion is a true medicinal plant or in new European a great regional superfood.
Dandelion contains many vitamins (especially vitamin C and A) and minerals (especially magnesium, calcium and phosphorus), which makes it a very healthy food, on par with other vegetables.
Vitamin C is mainly responsible for metabolic processes in the body but, like vitamin A, it strengthens the immune system and helps cell growth. Magnesium and calcium are important components of the muscles and teeth.
Due to its valuable ingredients, the dandelion is used not only in the kitchen, but also in natural cosmetics or natural medicine.
|Vitamin C||Is an essential nutrient for the body|
Plays an important role in cell structure and growth, especially for bones, teeth, connective tissue and cartilage
|Vitamin A||Also called β-carotene|
Plays an important role in cell growth or the formation of cells
Supports the visual process, thus ensures good eyesight
|Magnesium||Provides for the stable bones and teeth|
Plays an important role in energy metabolism
|Calcium||Is the mineral most needed by the body|
Provides for the stable bones and teeth
Ensures optimal signal transmission between nerves and cells
Improves blood clotting
|Phosphorus||Important component of bones, teeth and cells|
Plays an important role in the provision of energy in the cells
What kind of dandelion you can eat?
Not every dandelion you can eat! To be more precise, care is needed when harvesting dandelions, because some types of dandelions are even poisonous.
The most common type of dandelion and also the one that can be eaten without any problems is the common dandelion.
When dandelion is spoken of colloquially, it is usually always the common dandelion that is meant.
This belongs to the family of composite plants, just like the marigold, sunflower or daisy. The characteristic feature of the dandelions are the many small ray florets that all species have.
When harvesting common dandelion, care should be taken despite its distinctive appearance, as there may be a risk of confusion with sometimes poisonous, similar-looking plants, such as piglet weed, ragwort, or wise pippa.
In the table below, the most important properties of the different composite plants are explained, so that you can distinguish poisonous from harmless varieties of dandelion or similar species.
Probably the most important are the following three characteristics, by which you can determine with certainty whether they are indeed common dandelions:
Hairless, smooth leaves
Hollow, hairless stem filled with plant milk.
Each plant has exactly only one flower
|Common dandelion||Shank Dandelion||Piglet weed||Ragwort (poisonous!)||Hawkweed||Meadow Pippa|
|Height||10-30 cm||10-60 cm||20-70 cm||5-100 cm||20-150 cm||30-120 cm|
|Leaves||Up to 30 cm long, hairless and smooth||Elongated, with entire margins and mostly hairy||Scattered, unspotted foliage leaves, which are bristly hairy||Stalked or stalkless stem leaves, similar to dandelion||Stalked or sessile, elongated stem leaves||Stem leaves with downward saw teeth|
|Stem||Hollow, hairless and without leaves and filled with plant milk||Single or multiple unbranched but not hollow||Usually branched stems with several flower heads; stem stiffly hairy below and glabrous above, but not hollow||Two-edged stem that is not hollow (but filled with a market)||Simple or branched, erect stems that are not hollow||Upright, thin stem that is branched at the top but not hollow|
|Flower||Each plant has one flower; 3-5 cm in diameter||Each plant has one flower, 1-2 cm in diameter||One stem has several flowers 1-3 cm in diameter||Many capitula grouped together in panicled aggregate inflorescence; however, smaller flowers than dandelion||Basket shaped inflorescence usually in aggregate inflorescences||One stem has several flowers 2.5-3.5 cm in diameter|
|Inflorescence||Yellow, many small ray florets||Yellow, many small ray florets||Yellow, many small ray florets||Yellow, many small ray florets enclosing yellow tubular florets in the center||Bracts enclose ray florets, which are mostly yellow or sometimes white, yellowish-white or orange||Golden yellow ray florets with yellow pistil|
What can you eat from the dandelion?
You can eat all parts of the dandelion, from the root, to the leaves, to the bud or flower. When eating the stalk, however, caution is advised, as the milky juice it contains may possibly cause stomach problems.
Depending on when the dandelion is harvested, however, the taste changes.
The more fully grown the dandelion becomes, the more bitter its taste becomes. But even when the dandelion tastes bitter, it can still be eaten.
The bitterness comes from the oxalic acid contained in the dandelion. But don’t worry, vegetables like spinach or chard also contain oxalic acid and far more than dandelion. The bitter oxalic acid is harmless, especially when the vegetable is soaked or cooked and in usual amounts.
Can dandelion stalks be eaten?
The dandelion stalk can be eaten, but it is not recommended or depends on personal taste.
The dandelion stem contains lactic juice. This is harmless, but in very large quantities can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as abdominal pain or nausea.
However, this is more due to the rubbery, or gummy, properties of the sap and not because it is poisonous.
So if you’re making yourself a whole dandelion salad, I would recommend removing the stems and eating only the leaves and buds or flowers to be on the safe side.
What time of year can you eat dandelions?
Dandelion is edible all year round without any problems. It usually grows from about March to October, so it can be used almost all year round.
Nevertheless, there are certain times when one or another part of the dandelion is more edible or tastier:
Eating dandelions in spring
The best time to harvest dandelion leaves is in the spring when the first dandelions begin to grow, more specifically from March to mid/late April.
It’s best to harvest dandelion leaves before the first flowering, because then the leaves are still very tender and with less bitter substances than at a later time.
Eating dandelion in summer
The best time to harvest dandelion buds or flowers is in the spring or summer, that is, from April to early June when the dandelion blooms for the first time.
Again, similar to the leaves, the earlier the harvest the more delicate the flavor.
Eating dandelion in autumn
You can also harvest the root of the dandelion, and it is best to do so in late summer or fall, i.e. September to October.
The root of the dandelion develops its flavor only during the year, so it is best to harvest it at the end of the season. By then, the dandelion root has formed a variety of nutrients and developed the strong flavor of the root.
Can you eat dandelion from a meadow?
Dandelions from a meadow can be eaten without any problems, just like dandelions harvested from the garden.
However, you should be careful not to pick dandelions directly from the side of the road, both from dirt roads and (heavily) traveled roads.
On dirt roads, dog owners are often out and about and the dogs do their business right next to the roads. On busy roads, the problem is fine dust, which usually settles invisibly on the plants.
So it is best to collect the dandelions in your own garden or on free, preferably organically managed meadows.
However, if you don’t have the opportunity to pick fresh dandelion yourself, you may be able to buy it in your supermarket by now.
There are already cultivated or cultured dandelions, which are paler but also less bitter and have more tender leaves because they are raised away from light.
Can children eat dandelion?
Children can eat dandelions just like adults. However, increased attention should be paid to which parts of the dandelion and how much of it is eaten by children.
Since children generally have a less developed sense of taste than adults, you should keep the following points in mind:
Children tend to like dandelions that are young, tender and less to not bitter at all. Therefore, harvest the dandelion as early as possible so that it has not yet developed any bitter substances.
Children usually have a more sensitive stomach than adults. Therefore, children or adolescents should not eat stalks of dandelion. The milky sap contained in dandelions can affect their stomachs more quickly than is the case with adults.
Children should eat limited amounts of dandelion because of the oxalic acid it contains. As a rule of thumb, a maximum of about 1 handful of dandelion leaves per day can be estimated, of course always depending on personal feeling.
Can dandelion be eaten daily?
In principle, there is nothing wrong with eating dandelion daily. However, due to some of its ingredients, you should pay attention to the following points:
Remember that more mature dandelions contain oxalic acid, which made dandelions bitter and can be harmful in large, uncooked amounts. If you eat dandelions frequently or even daily, you should make sure to harvest them as young as possible.
The stalks of the dandelion contain milky juice that tastes gummy and can sometimes cause gastrointestinal distress. If you often dandelion is, it is recommended to remove the stems.
Can dandelion be eaten raw?
Dandelions can be eaten raw as well as boiled, steamed, pickled or otherwise processed.
You can think of dandelions as any other vegetable, so zucchini or carrots, for example.
So anything you can do with another vegetable, you can do with dandelion. Therefore, it is no problem to eat dandelion raw in a salad, steamed in a vegetable pan or pickled as an anti-pasti.
How to prepare dandelion?
In general, the preparation of dandelion is quite simple and not very complex. Nevertheless, there are some peculiarities in the preparation of the individual parts of the dandelion:
Preparation of dandelion leaves
Dandelion leaves can be prepared raw, steamed or otherwise. Like lettuce, you should wash and drain the leaves before preparing them.
Depending on the dish, you can leave the leaves whole or cut or tear them into the desired size.
The simplest and at the same time the most common ways of preparing dandelion leaves are salad with dandelion, vegetable dishes with dandelion, pesto, dips, sauces or soups made with dandelion or even smoothies with dandelion.
Preparation of dandelion flowers
Dandelion flowers are best harvested in summer when they are in full bloom, from mid-April to early June.
On the one hand, dandelion flowers can be used quite easily as a garnish, similar to edible flowers.
On the other hand, you can make syrup or jelly from dandelion flowers. For this, you just need the flowers, water, sugar and a lemon. But it’s best to look at well-known recipe sites like Chefkoch, where you can find many different recipes.
Preparation of dandelion buds.
Dandelion buds can also be harvested and most easily made into pickled buds.
To do this, simply put the buds with water, vinegar, some herbs, garlic, salt and onion rings in a pickling jar, seal it and let the whole thing steep for 8-10 weeks, as described for example in this recipe.
After that you can enjoy the pickled dandelion buds.
Preparation of the dandelion root
Finally, we come to the dandelion root, which is best harvested in the fall, because then its taste is fully matured and sweeter than still in the spring.
In the past, that is, in (post-)war times, dandelion root was often used as a coffee substitute.
To do this, you must first collect the root of the dandelion, preferably cut it into small pieces and dry it. After drying, it must be ground and can then be brewed with hot water just like coffee powder.
So you have a coffee substitute or a strong tea – depending on which perspective you look at it from or which you prefer.
How do I store dandelions properly?
It is best to prepare dandelion freshly after harvesting. That’s because it’s still at its crunchiest and full of vitamins and minerals.
Similar to spinach or arugula, dandelion loses its shape, freshness and crunchiness quickly.
But if you’ve harvested so much that you can’t process it all at once, you should freeze the fresh dandelion directly. This way it is easily preserved and you can always get the required amount back from the freezer.
I have 30 years of experience and i started this website to see if i could try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree a Horticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
Please if you have any questions leave them on the article and i will get back to you personally.