A familiar weed in sunny lawns, fields, and playgrounds, the dandelion elicits strong sympathy among Albanians not only due to its beauty, but also due to its nutrition and medicinal uses.
Dandelion gets its common name from the French "dents de lion" which means lion's teeth. These teeth are an important identification characteristic while its botanic name is Taraxacum officinale. In Albanian it has a series of names like Luleshurdha mjekësore, prakalidhe, përkalidhe, luleradhiqe dhe radhiqe.
Which Parts of the Dandelion Can You Eat?
The dandelion has multiple edible parts, and it has long been known as a well-regarded edible and medicinal plant. Feel free to pull them up by the roots and use every bit of them.
Dandelion greens are packed with vitamins and minerals. Mature dandelions can be quite bitter, but fresh, young dandelion leaves are a good kind of bitter, the kind that gets your digestive juices flowing. They can be used raw in salads to balance mild greens like lettuce.
As the weather warms, dandelion foliage can go from pleasantly bitter to overpowering in just a few days. Plants growing in shade remain palatable longer.
You can extend the dandelion season by cooking the leaves. Blanching dandelion greens in boiling water removes some of the bitterness. Then, combine them with milder greens like nettles and dock in pies, egg dishes, custards, or stir fries.
Unopened flower buds can be used raw in salads, pickled, or lightly boiled for no more than a minute or two. A little butter, some salt and pepper, and you’re all set. Collect the buds from the center of the foliage at ground level, before they expand.
Dandelions are best harvested in early spring, when they're full of stored nutrition. But do you know you can prepare even dandelion honey? Dandelion honey is great on toast, muffins, pancakes, and biscuits. You can use it much as you would use honey in tea and beverages.
How to make dandelion honey
Pick dandelion flowers during the daylight while in full bloom. Soak the flowers in cold water for five minutes to allow time for any insects to exit. Remove the petals, then measure the petals only. Discard the center of the flower and the stem. Place the petals in a heavy saucepan along with the water, lemon slices, and vanilla bean. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer it for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let steep for 6 hours. Strain the dandelion tea through cheesecloth and discard the solids. Place the dandelion tea in a saucepan and bring it to a low boil. Gradually add honey or brown sugar to the boiling liquid while stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat and let it simmer uncovered until it reaches the desired syrupy thickness. Some cooks leave the flower heads intact, but this can add a bitter note to the honey. It's best to use only the petals and eliminate any green parts./AgroWeb.org