Wild Edibles 101: Dandelion Root

Series Post # 1

Dandelion Root

The Dandelion Plant is an incredible and versatile wild edible.  From flower to root, the entire plant is edible.  The focus of this post, however, is the root. 

Dandelion Growing in Flower Garden

Dandelion Growing in Flower Garden

Dandelion Growing At Edge of Woods

Dandelion Growing At Edge of Woods

I don’t think I need to go into too much detail about how to identify this plant.  Most everyone knows what the dandelion looks like.  It has very distinct leaves with no poisonous look-a-likes to my knowledge.  In the spring it commonly has a bright yellow flower.  This flower seeds to a fluffy head of seeds as the plant matures.

Dandelion Seed Head

Dandelion Seed Head

The Dandelion plant has a long carrot-like taproot, so dig deep or you will break it off.  Here is a picture of a few plants I collected to prepare my dandelion root vegetable.

Dandelion Root on Wood Bench

Dandelion Root on Wood Bench

Dandelion Root on Black Shelf

Dandelion Root on Black Shelf

After you’ve dug enough roots, the next step is to wash off the dirt and trim them up.

Dandelion Root - Washed & Trimmed

Dandelion Root - Washed & Trimmed

Then, I typically take a knife blade and lightly scrape off the outside peel. 

Dandelion Root - PEELED

Dandelion Root - PEELED

After the root is peeled I slice it up just like you would a carrot.

Dandelion Root - SLICED

Dandelion Root - SLICED

Dandelion is best prepared like boiled carrots.  Just boil the sliced roots for 5-8 minutes. They soften up and make an excellent vegetable side dish.  I typically just add a little salt, pepper and a cut of butter.
Dandelion Root - Plated with Asparagus

Dandelion Root - Plated with Asparagus

Boiled Dandelion Root w/ Salt, Pepper & Butter

Boiled Dandelion Root w/ Salt, Pepper & Butter

The larger & more mature roots have a slightly bitter (but surprisingly pleasant) taste.  When you harvest dandelion roots, be sure to keep the leaves.  These make an excellent steamed green – prepare them like spinach.

Dandelion Greens For Another Day

Dandelion Greens For Another Day

If preparing the root in the field or over an open fire you can also boil it as long as you have a container.  Otherwise, the roots can be roasted on a stick until tender or placed directly on a bed of hot coals or rocks.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post in WILD EDIBLES 101.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

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About Willow Haven Outdoor & Creek Stewart
Creek Stewart is the Owner and Lead Instructor at Willow Haven Outdoor - a leading Survival and Preparedness Training Facility located on 21-acres in Central Indiana.  For more information on Survival Courses and Clinics offered at WHO, click HERE.  Creek is also author of Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit and The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide.  Visit Creek's personal web-site here: WWW.CREEKSTEWART.COM. You can contact Creek directly at creek@willowhavenoutdoor.com.
 
 

Comments

  1. Danny says:

    I love this! I am always wanting to learn how to find and prepare wild edibles.

  2. Doctor Mom says:

    Great to know how to prepare the root, especially in the wild over a fire.
    A couple of points:
    1. When collecting in the wild, leave a little root so the plant can regrow
    2. If you aren’t fond of the leaves, they are incredibly nutritious for your chickens. I keep a bunch going in my yard to supplement my clux’ feed all summer and late into fall.
    3. if too wilted to eat, great for the compost pile, but don’t include any root unless you want more volunteer dandelions throughout your garden.

  3. Steve Potts says:

    Creek, have you considered writing a segment on Queen Anne's Lace, the wild carrot? I pulled one up in my yard yesterday thinking it was poison hemlock. When I looked it up I realized it was wild carrot. This stuff is growing everywhere!

    • Terry Burcham Rasmussen says:

      Great post about these wild edibles. Need to look for them!

    • Kenny Pevahouse says:

      Native Americans could have probably schooled us on all of this and more!

    • Terry Burcham Rasmussen says:

      Yes, you are probably right about that!

    • So….did you eat it??

    • Steve Potts says:

      No, it's too woody in its raw state, but the tap root smells just like a carrot. I want to find out how to cook it, and was hoping Creek had some experience with this one.

    • Hey Steve – just seeing this comment. I do know about Queen Anne's Lace and – yes – it is the wild carrot. However, like you mention, it does have [a couple] poison look-a-likes. For this reason, I don't include this one in my Wild Edible 80-20 rule which is " Focus on 20% of the plants that you see 80% of the time AND that have no poisonous look-a-likes, are easy to harvest and easy to eat." However, with all that said, if you want to eat it, you have to find the 1st year plants – the ones without the flower. Once they flower, the 'carrot' part turns very hard and woody – like you mentioned. All those nutrients in the root are used by the plant to make the flower, etc… The first year plant roots are softer and prepared exactly like a carrot. They are much smaller, though. Hope this helps brother! The #1 way to tell this plant from it's poisonous look-a-likes is THE SMELL. As you know, these smell just like carrots.

    • Steve Potts says:

      Thanks, Creek…that's good info to know. Maybe I should just sign up for one of your classes! My daughter and I really enjoyed your open house a few weeks ago. Keep up the good work!

    • Queens anns lace and the root is deathly poison, one variety extent now was used to prevent pregnancy loved so much it was put on a coin but over harvested, that was the only variety that was safe and it was an abortionafact

  4. Don says:

    Iv’e never eaten the root. Last year I made a batch of dandelion jelly. It didn’t have too much flavor but, it was good because I made it. I gave some to family and my neighbor down the road. Again, no rave reviews, but nobody died from trying it. I still lhave a little in the fridge.

    When I was a teen my mom made dandelion leaves with bacon and I think, flour and water. She always talked about how she made it years before when most all they ate they had grown or raised. I finally talked her into doing it one year. Our yard at home wasn’t just grass. It also had dandelion, plantain, clover mixed in with the grass. It had character. I think it’s funny when I go grocery shopping and in the produce dept. they have dandelion for sale. People pay to get it out of their yards, then go to the store and pay for it to eat. There has to be something wrong with that picture. Don

  5. Gabby Decker says:

    What don't you like about free food?

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