But like all good rebels, the dandelions are irrepressible.— Guido Masé, herbalist and author
Herbalists love to love dandelions. Not only do they grow abundantly all over the world, every single part of the plant offers us either food or medicine and can be harvested all year round. While I adore dandelion leaf pesto and consider dandelion flower wine to be a delicious burst of flavored sunshine, I would have to say that drinking roasted dandelion root tea is my favorite way to enjoy this plant. Besides being earthy and delicious, dandelion root is packed with nutrients and minerals that deliver a myriad of health benefits.
PRE-biotics – Dandelion roots are high in a starchy substance called inulin. Inulin is not digested by humans, but when eaten it passes to the colon where it provides foods and nutrients for healthy gut flora. Many pro-biotic formulas now boast that they also contain inulin. With dandelion roots you can avoid pills and let your food be your medicine.
Liver Health – Herbalists have long relied on the simple dandelion root for improved liver health. Because our livers are involved in many physiological functions, this means that dandelion can be used for a lot of different ailments including:
- To support healthy hormone levels
- To address skin inflammation such as acne and eczema
- To improve digestion by helping to produce bile which is stored and then released from the gallbladder to digest fats
Cancer – Folk herbalists have long used dandelion root to support the health of people who have cancer. Scientists are now looking into this and there are a handful of in vitro studies showing promising results.
Dandelions Are Accessible! To make this recipe you can buy roasted dandelion roots or buy raw roots at low cost and then roast them yourself. However, if you’d like to take advantage of dandelions you have growing near you, here’s a step-by-step guide to harvesting and roasting your own.
Step by Step Guide to Harvesting and Roasting Dandelion Root
Know how to properly identify a dandelion. There are lookalikes! Consult plant identification books and websites to confirm. Locate dandelion plants in an area where it is safe to harvest (avoiding pesticides/herbicides and pet traffic). Carefully harvest the roots whenever the ground is soft enough to dig. You’ll quickly learn to gently ease the roots from the earth, otherwise they will readily snap off. Gently wash the roots, leaving as much of the root sheath on as possible. Finely mince the roots and dry them thoroughly. Once thoroughly dried, roast them in a dry cast iron pan on medium high heat, stirring frequently. You can also roast them in the oven at 350 degrees, checking on them frequently to stir and keep an eye on them to avoid burning. You’ll know they are done when they have turned a darker shade of brown and have a rich aromatic smell. Once roasted you can store them in a dark, airtight container for up to a year.
Article written by Cara Ahern