Jeff recently asked this question about dandelions as a survival food over at the survival plant profiles page:
“Have you considered dandelions? While not the most awesome food, they are indeed edible and they pretty much grow themselves anywhere.”
Yes, dandelions are easy to grow (many people try to get rid of them!) but I haven’t covered them as a survival plant because they really didn’t like most of Florida.
What kind of a state is it where even DANDELIONS don’t want to grow???
Back when I lived in Tennessee we had dandelions all over the yard. The children would blow the seeds everywhere and I did nothing to discourage them.
Getting the leaves before they turned bitter was always an exercise in futility, plus the leaves really weren’t all that big in Tennessee, making them less than desirable for a salad even if their excruciating bitterness could have been made palatable.
The roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute… but why would you do that? Do you want to look and talk like this guy?
DRINK COFFEE AND EAT A SANDWICH AND GET SOME VELVET BEANS IN YOU, BOY!
There’s no substitute for coffee.
The one good part of the dandelion I found was the bloom itself. They’re sweet and a little bitter at the same time, making a nice snack as you wander around your on-mown lawn trying to remember where you left the unsmoked half of the cigar you were puffing the previous afternoon while planting Jerusalem artichokes.
That cigar has to be around somewhere. Please don’t tell me I have to drive into town to buy some more. Ah, there it is… hey, wait… which one of you kids smoked this thing down to a quarter cigar???
Though a good plant profile could be written on dandelions, I’ve never found them to be that useful as a survival crop… or weed, as the case may be.
I much prefer something abundant that tastes good, like smilax:
A dandelion omelet would probably be too bitter… unless you find those legendary sweet and early leaves.
Further north you might – I just didn’t have any luck from Tennessee south, making me wholly unfit to cover dandelion as a survival food.
*Dandelion photo credit Toshiyuki IMAI.
I’ve made dandelion tea out of the flowers. Tastes good but gave me heartburn, so that’s a no.
Made dandelion root “coffee filler” by drying, grinding up, then backing the roots. Good stuff. Has a slight chocolate taste, believe it or not. I say filler because I read somewhere (forget) that large doses of it by itself is “questionable,” so one should add it to existing coffee grounds.
Made soup out of the leaves. Great IF YOU BOIL THEM, DUMP THE WATER, AND COOK THEM MORE IN FRESH WATER. If not, they are too bitter.
I heard they are nitrogen fixers too, so I let them grow in my gardens.
Dandelion’s best job is as an adult beverage.