Creative Ways to Use Dandelions

Reader Contribution by Ashley Hetrick and Vermont Mango Plantation
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Dandelions grow just about everywhere in the world, dotting lawns and defiantly sprouting through sidewalk cracks.  Though dandelions are incredibly common, they’re also powerful herbal medicine and tasty edibles at the same time.

Medicinally, whole dandelion plants are often made into a dandelion tincture, which has traditionally been used for skin and urinary tract problems.  Herbalists use the blossoms as a treatment for sore muscles, in the form of a dandelion salve or dandelion infused oil.

Beyond herbal medicine, dandelions are just plain tasty.  Dandelion roots can be cooked like carrots or roasted and brewed into dandelion root coffee.  The greens are eaten fresh in salads or cooked with a bit of oil or salt.  Dandelion blossoms can be made into simple dandelion fritters without much effort too.

Making Dandelion Fritters from Simply Beyond Herbs

Year after year, we make a few basic things with dandelions, but I’m always looking for new and creative ways to use them.  Our land in Vermont is a dandelion paradise, and we’d have to work full time just to put a noticeable dent in the dandelion crop. 

While it’s true that dandelions are an important food source for pollinators, deadheading some dandelion blossoms as they pop open actually encourages the plant to produce yet more blossoms.  Remember to harvest sustainably and leave some for the bees, but also have fun and enjoy all the wonder that dandelions have to offer.

Creative Dandelion Blossom Recipes

The blossoms are by far the easiest way to make use of dandelions.  They’re easy to identify, simple to harvest and most recipes only require a few flowers for a really unique treat.  How do dandelion flowers taste you ask?  Like sweet honey…

Be sure to remove the bitter green parts and only use the yellow dandelion petals.

Dandelion Candy

A simple hard candy flavored with dandelion blossoms, this dandelion candy will put a smile on anyone’s face.

Dandelion Candy Image Courtesy of The Homestead Lady

Dandelion Gummy Bears

My kids absolutely love gummy bears, and it’s incredibly easy to make them at home with just a few ingredients.  As a bonus, the homemade ones are much healthier and you can choose to sweeten them with raw honey for a healthier treat.  Dandelion gummy bears are fun to make, and there’s something about watching my 2-year-old harvest dandelions for his own treat that makes them extra special.

Dandelion Gummy Bears from Adamant Kitchen

Dandelion Wine

An old school classic, dandelion wine has been made in country households for generations.  If you make a small batch, it doesn’t require too many flowers.  A five-gallon batch is a serious time investment, not in the harvesting of the flowers but in separating the flavorful petals from the bitter greens.

My husband and I made dandelion wine on our first date, and spent a whole afternoon getting to know each other over a mess of plucked dandelion petals.  Now 10 years later, we still drink a bottle of that first batch on our anniversary.  Nothing like a little dandelion wine to spark a lasting relationship, both with foraging and with each other.

Dandelion Wine from Practical Self Reliance

Dandelion Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread is incredibly simple to make, with just three ingredients: flour, sugar and butter.  Mix in dandelion petals and you take a simple cookie and add wild foraged excitement.  My little ones really loved helping with every part of this dandelion shortbread recipe.

Dandelion Shortbread from Adamant Kitchen

Dandelion Bread

Want to add beautiful color and a subtle honey flavor to your homemade bread?  Dandelion bread is really unique, and I bet the kids will love homemade sandwiches made with this sunny loaf.

Homemade Dandelion Bread from Homespun Seasonal Living

Dandelion and Honey Marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows are easy to make, no corn syrup or special equipment required.  These dandelion honey marshmallows just need a few dandelions, honey and gelatin.  For equipment, all it takes is a stand mixer and cake pan.  Who knew you could make your own (healthier) marshmallows?  And they taste even more like honey with dandelion petals…

Dandelion and Honey Marshmallows from Adamant Kitchen

Dandelion Infused Vinegar

Dandelion infused vinegar is one of the few dandelion blossom recipes that doesn’t require separating out the petals.  The hint of bitterness from the green sepals plays well against the sweetness of the petals.  Use it on salads, or take a bit like a spring tonic.

Dandelion Infused Vinegar from Grow Forage Cook Ferment

Still need more inspiration?  Check out this list of ways to use dandelions from root to flower, or read up on more than 40 types of edible flowers that may already be growing in your yard.

Ashley lives in a solar and wind powered home in Vermont with her husband and two young children.  She writes about gardening, foraging, DIY and all things off-grid aPractical Self Reliance.  You can find pictures of her homestead adventures on Instagramor follow along on Facebook or Twitter.


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