As a kid, I’d played dandelion games with my friends, like blowing her seeds to see how many boyfriends we’d have and rubbing her flowers on the inside of our wrists to see how sweet we were.
In my teens and twenties, I admired her pretty flowers when I found them, keeping my appreciation of her simple beauty secret because it wasn’t socially acceptable to praise her virtues…especially when she popped up in the front lawn.
In my thirties, I felt her like a sister in life. Isn’t dandelion the most misunderstood of the herbal family? She’s willing to do the dirty job, get kicked about, and still turn up just when she’s needed without getting a lick of praise for all the healing she’s done. It was a story I could identify with, and for that I loved her.
In my early herbalism years, I found a whole new appreciation for dandelion. It was spring, and I’d just been reading about wild edibles when the dandelions began to bloom. My first real steps into herbalism carried me no further than my own back yard, where I found a little basket full of dandelion buds and a handful of miner’s lettuce, chickweed, dandelion greens, and cleavers. We dined on fried dandelion buds sprinkled over a wild greens salad that night, and the door to practical herbalism swung open for me. I decided that social mores be damned, I was going to love dandelion right out there in the open for all to see, and maybe a few wise folk would be lucky enough to realize I was on to something and give her a try as well.
Since then, I’ve reveled in growing dandelions in my front yard and garden. When my son was little, we made a game of blowing dandelion seeds about the yard. My neighbors weren’t pleased. One even went so far as to come over and pull my prize dandelion, the one I’d been growing for two years right out in front who had spawned many of the other beauties sprinkled across my front yard.
The miracle of dandelion, though, is that even when life really kicks me about, she’s there with her wonderful medicine to help me recover. The night I discovered my prize beauty had been stolen, I brewed a cup of dandelion and chicory root tea and drew from the deeper, more forgiving part of myself to shift my perception of the trespass. Now, I feel a little sorry for the neighbors who cannot appreciate the beauty of a field of green dotted with lovely yellow buds, and who can’t see the medicine growing right there for them. I let them have their drama over my beauties, and I keep on sowing dandelion’s seeds and smiling like the Mona Lisa, who no doubt shared the secret of dandelion’s medicine as well.
Fried Dandelion Buds
If you want to pursue a little herbal activism…but maybe not actually enrage your neighbors…you might want to pluck a lot of your dandelion flowers before they create their fluffy seed heads. Then, of course, you’ll have lots of dandelion buds.
What are ya gonna do with all them buds?
Fry ’em, of course!
This recipe’s best in the spring, when the dandelions are still tender and sweet. Later in summer the buds will get a little more bitter. (They’re perfect for making your own custom bitters then.) Be sure you’re harvesting dandelions that have not been poisoned or sprayed with chemicals, too!
- 1-2 cups fresh Dandelion buds
- 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil (or your favorite cooking oil)
- Rice or potato flower (wheat flour will do if that’s all ya got)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Dried thyme or cayenne pepper (optional, to taste), powdered
- Colander or strainer
- Mixing bowl
- Spoon for cooking
- Shallow pan
- Paper towel or wire rack for cooling
- Gently wash your dandelion buds in cool water, then let them dry a few minutes in the colander or strainer.
- Add a little salt, pepper, and any other dried herbs you intend to use to the rice flour in the mixing bowl and blend it well.
- Heat the oil in the pan on medium heat.
- When the oil’s hot, toss the dandelion buds in the flour a handful at a time.
- Lift the buds out of the flour, then fry them in the oil.
- When the buds are a light golden brown, remove them from the pan and set them on the paper towel or wire rack to cool.
- Repeat steps 4-6 with any remaining buds.
- Sprinkle your cooled, fried dandelion buds on salads or use them as a garnish to whatever tasty meal you’re serving.