The dandelion, original name Taraxacum officinale, is a flowering plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. Other names are: Dandelion, Wild chicory, Soffione, Burda chicory and Piscialetto. The latter name derives from a legend according to which children who picked the flowers of this plant would have bedwetting the next night. It grows practically everywhere, in the plains and up to altitudes of 1500- 2000 meters. It prefers a temperate climate, it grows both in the sun and in shady areas. It is easy to find it on meadows and fields. The plant has a 40 centimeter stem and has long and radical leaves, which develop, that is, from the root, of a light green color, while on the top there is the yellow flower, called dandelion because it is surrounded by the pappus, the fluff that children have fun tearing up and which is carried by the wind. The roots of the plant can also have a weed character, because if they are not eradicated they continue to produce new shoots. This plant blooms in spring, but also in autumn. Dandelion is used both for food purposes and for herbal remedies. The parts used are the flowers, in bud, for food purposes, the leaves and roots for phytotherapeutic purposes. The leaves, used raw, as salads, can be harvested all year round, but it is preferable that they are harvested before flowering. The roots should be harvested in late spring and autumn, cut into thin slices and dried. The stems should be collected at the same time as flowering.
The leaves of the dandelion are very rich in vitamins A, B, C, essential oil, mineral salts, carbohydrates, flavonoids, antioxidants such as tannin and polysaccharides such as inulin. The active ingredients of dandelion appear to have beneficial effects for digestive problems and for the prevention of kidney stones. In fact, dandelion is also used as a purifier for the liver and kidneys. The substances of the dandelion have an enzymatic action, that is, they stimulate the activity of very important glands, such as the aforementioned liver and kidneys. In the liver they stimulate the secretion of bile, protecting the liver cells and preventing the formation of annoying gallstones. Their useful effect, therefore, does not concern the treatment of stones, but only prevention. Dandelion also stimulates kidney function by acting as a diuretic. In herbal medicine we also speak of dandelion therapy: taking remedies based on this plant for 4 to 6 weeks detoxifies the body, making you feel lighter. Other properties of dandelion also concern external uses, such as firming and cleaning the skin and lightening face spots and freckles. In the kitchen, the fresh leaves are used to prepare salads, while the flowers can also be fried after having floured them. The latter, when they are still closed, can be preserved in vinegar to use them instead of capers. Roasted roots in the oven make it possible to obtain a coffee substitute.
To exert its beneficial effect, dandelion is used as a decoction, infusion, fresh or as a juice. The decoction of roots, obtained by boiling 40 grams of these parts of the plant in a liter of water for 10 minutes, can be used to make toning and smoothing packs on the skin. The infusion obtained by placing a tablespoon of root in a cup of boiling water allows you to combat discomfort related to liver malfunction, such as boils. It can also be used for intestinal constipation and as a diuretic. The decoction for internal use has the same beneficial action, the dose to prepare it is 3 grams of root in 100 ml of water. The decoction, in coffee cups, should be taken, in sips, three or four times a day, between meals. To combat fatigue, it is recommended to take dandelion stems for two weeks. The flowering stems are collected, the flowers are removed by detaching them, the stem is washed and chewed very slowly. There will be a bitter taste, typical of some salads. The recommended dose is 5, 10 stems a day for 15 days, to obtain purifying, regenerating and strengthening effects. It seems that those who have tried this "cure" have felt more vigorous and energetic.
Dandelion is found in the form of herbal remedy and food supplement, in herbalists, pharmacies, parapharmacies and e-commerce sites. It is sold in the form of tablets or tablets, (mixed with other plant extracts), herbal tea and hydroalcoholic solution. A pack of 110 tablets costs about six euros, the herbal tea in sachets with filter always costs six euros. The recommended dose is one cup of 150 ml per day, to be taken preferably in the morning. The alcoholic solution of dandelion extracts in a 50 ml bottle costs about 6.50 euros. The recommended dose is 20, 40 drops, 2. 4 times a day.
The leaves and the juice obtained from dandelions contain enormous benefits thanks to the rich composition of vitamins and minerals. This leads to their versatile therapeutic action, equal to which it is difficult to find in the plant world.
To give dandelion juice leaves all its benefits, it should be drunk fresh, preferably within 10 minutes of preparation, without being subjected to heat treatment. Only in this case, the entire composition of minerals and vitamins will be saved and replenish the body.
Warning! The juice must be collected in June and July. At this moment he concentrates the greatest benefit in himself.
Dandelion or Dandelion (Taraxacun officinale)
Wine very rich in vitamin C
The old, good, reassuring, almost domestic Dandelion or Dandelion at first seems to have nothing to do with the English pirates who, protected by the crown, terrorized the seas to the detriment of the ships of other countries, especially Spanish and Portuguese on the route of the Americas. If, on the other hand, the subject is investigated one of the reasons that made the English pirates the bogeyman of all the merchant routes of the time was not only the ferocity, the seafaring ability and the boats with the most streamlined and fast profile of the classic galleons, but, not least, resistance at sea. This is explained today by the increased attention that was placed on the type and quality of food supplies.
There was never a lack of a typical Cornish product in the galley reserves of ships: dandelion wine, a drink considered almost magical at the time, capable of giving strength and vigor.
In fact, this drink was a powerful natural anti-scurvy. Very rich in Vitamin C, it effectively countered the low intake due to a diet composed almost exclusively of preserved foods and the high demands for intense physical activity.
Meadows spotted with yellow
Today the Dandelion is often considered a plant of no use, indeed for many garden enthusiasts it can represent a real curse with its ease of dissemination, the taproot, resistance to extreme situations, the ability to steal soil from the turf. sown. It often happens that a lawn where the dandelion is present after mowing becomes stained with yellow flowers which, in response to the cut, open even if the stem has not reached the height normally required.
Medicinal plant since ancient times
The Dandelion, whose scientific name is Taraxacun officinale, since ancient times it has enjoyed a wide reputation as a medicinal plant. It was recognized as being effective as a diuretic, relaxing, against cough spasms, as a febrifuge.
Later the Arabs, in texts dating back to around the year one thousand, recommended it to those suffering from liver dysfunctions.
The sixteenth-century codes recommended the yellow of its flowers against the yellow of jaundice.
With certainty today we know that the dandelion is very rich in Vit. A, Vit. C and iron, even more than spinach. For this reason its consumption is recommended not only to all people who have to regulate the turnover, but also to anemics.
Where to find it
Dandelion can be found in all seasons and, if the winter is not too inclement, you can find some flowering plants all year round. Easy to find and easy to collect, the dandelion will accompany you wherever you go: from North America, to the Mediterranean countries, from the steppes of the Soviet republics to the islands of Japan.
In the mixed salad: collect the leaves before flowering to use them raw in mixed salads. The taste remains bitter and therefore you can always use them as a "condiment" for what your garden produces.
Then boiled in a pan: if, on the other hand, you prefer to boil the leaves, you can also choose those of plants in a more advanced stage of vegetation, it will take less time to harvest and the result will be the same. Boil them, after having washed them well to eliminate all the earth present, in very little water. At the end of cooking you should have made it withdraw practically all so as not to disperse the interesting mineral components. The required cooking time is 10-15 minutes. The boiled vegetables can then be tossed into a pan with a little oil or butter and crushed garlic, a good dose of chilli pepper and a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano at the moment of serving. The combination of bitter (dandelion) and spicy (chilli) flavors combined with a strong aroma (garlic) and a round covering taste (Parmesan) may not satisfy all palates, especially those accustomed to modern standardization, but for some can be really interesting.
In the omelette: the classic omelette "alla pastora", alongside all the classic ingredients, involves the use of a generous handful of finely chopped dandelion leaves and mixed with a pinch of thyme. It must be cooked in a large pan so that it is very low and is particularly suitable for being eaten cold, rolled and cut.
The range of effects and benefits of the dandelion drink is quite wide. Dandelion juice, in the first place, is beneficial for such diseases:
A glass of cool drink divided into 4 parts and drink throughout the day. If it looks too bitter, you can mix it with compote or another sweetener.
There are no strict contraindications for taking dandelion medications, but there are a number of limitations or warnings about possible side effects. Sweet honey can be given even to small children, it will be very useful for them, especially during the period of spring hypovitaminosis. But still some of the limitations when taking dandelion syrup should be remembered:
Warning! When preparing dandelions to make syrup, you need to remember about the environment. Collecting inflorescences should be only in clean places not contaminated with industrial waste, as well as as far as possible from highways.
Rather than being relentless in the extermination of weeds, it is good to learn how to harvest them with the aim of enrich home cooking or use them as natural remedies.
In fact, we do not want to suggest a new and effective weed elimination system. At the moment they are still needed mowing, weeding (ie elimination by hand, bent over the ground, seedling by seedling), weeding (with the weeder, a tool vaguely similar to a forcarovesciata) or the spraying of chemical herbicides, ie the classic methods.
Instead, we want to suggest that you take some weeds to use them as if they were plants specially grown in the garden!
Very frequent among meadows and vegetable gardens throughout Italy, the dandelion or dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) - and its many similar ones - is an exceptional purifier of the organism and liver detoxifier: in case of problems, consume it every day (at least 100 g) raw in a mixed salad.
In fact, it contains vitamins (A, group B, C and K), minerals (potassium and iron, but also magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, sodium), and above all a essential oil rich in bitter substances (tarassina, tarassacina etc.) markedly purifying and digestive.
When the dandelion is in bloom, the leaves are less rich in beneficial principles, and even more bitter!
The dandelion it should be harvested from February to April-May, in any case before the yellow flowers open because it greatly reduces its effectiveness: the basal rosette of serrated leaves is eradicated, preferably with all the taproot root, also edible raw if finely sliced (once it dried, toasted and ground as a substitute for coffee).
There Romagna variant plans to dress the dandelion salad alone with "bruciatini", diced bacon sautéed in a pan ... Definitely less virtuous, but more delicious! Alternatively, blanch the rosettes then throwing the bitter water, and treat them like spinach, while the closed buds are put in oil, vinegar or salt like capers.
The burdock (Arctium lappa) is a large biennial plant, of the Asteraceae family, which loves humid spots and has no other needs. Widespread throughout Italy, it is quite bulky with its own large leaves hugging the ground already in the first year, and becomes even more so in the second, when it raises the hairy flowering stem up to 2 m high, with purple flowers present from June to October, producers of hundreds of volatile seeds.
Heads of burdock, whose quills stick to clothes: a game for children born before the 70s.
In the kitchen they use the root, to be harvested with a hoe in November of the first year or in March of the second the flower stem, the petioles and the leaves, all to be picked up before the first flowers open.
The root it comes like potatoes: boiled and seasoned with oil and salt, fried, baked, in puree, in soups and soups, however, it should be washed in water and lemon to prevent it from blackening, and color the boiling water green.
The flower stem it is cleaned and used like cultivated thistles. THE petioles you can fry them in batter leaves they are boiled or added to soups.
It has a taste that recalls that of the artichoke, of which it is a close relative and has the same purifying and detoxifying properties of the liver.
It is a frequent ingredient in Japanese gastronomy, where it is called "gobo”, And the root is also available dry.
All the thistles, be they carlina (Carlina acaulis), donkey thistle (Cirsium vulgare), field thistle (C. arvense), milk thistle (Silybum marianum), saffron (Carthamus), cardogna (Scolymus hispanicus), wild artichoke (Cynara cardunculus), thistle thistle (Carduus pycnocephalus), holy thistle (Cnicus benedictus) etc., present throughout Italy, announce themselves every year in spring with a rosette of lobed and thorny leaves on the margins.
The milk thistle, with white veined leaves, very easy to recognize.
The stems of these perennials, in fact, dry out in winter to be replaced by new shoots in March-April, the right time to pick them up (with gloves), trimming them to remove the spinules. Or you can wait a few weeks to gather the young women leaves just unfolded or stems still tender, or a month to disconnect the flower heads still tightly closed and the leaves already large. Alternatively, in the autumn of the first year of life, the taproots are uprooted with the hoe.
The buds and leaves are tender they are used raw added to salads or boiled and added to omelettes or cooked in the Viterbo aquacotta. The stems they are cleaned and cooked like cultivated thistles (boiled, fried, in béchamel, au gratin ...). THE flower heads they are preserved in oil or cooked like artichokes. The adult leaves they are the most difficult: the thorns are removed, the central rib is filleted, cut into strips and boiled using them like spinach. The roots enrich soups.
Perhaps the most common plant in vegetable gardens and gardens, and certainly the most unpleasant due to the burning sensation it gives with every touch, the nettle (Urtica urens, U. dioica) calls the gardener's revenge! Even because definitively eliminating it is very difficult, because of the yellowish underground stolons that walk meters underground.
Nettle, gardener's despair. that can be avenged by putting it in the pot!
Between March and May, when it has just sprung up, equipped with gloves and shears, cut off the new jets of nettle, trying to tear as much as possible the radiciona, which must be thrown, while the aerial part rests in a wicker basket.
Wash it well, always with gloves, and then blanch it for 3 minutes in a saucepan to finally make it harmless.
Use it as side dish, sautéed with butter and cheese or with oil and garlic, or in risotto, soups, savory pies, omelettes instead of spinach in stuffed pasta and even to color the pastry, which will become greener than with spinach due to the high chlorophyll content.
It will only do you good because, in addition to being tasty (the Greeks were crazy about it and, according to Aristophanes, they collected it before the arrival of the swallows, when it is more tender), it supplies you with vitamins A and C, acetylcholine and iron: effectively fights anemia, fortifies eyesight and lowers cholesterol and purifies the body.
The properties of dandelion are many as well as the uses in the kitchen: guide to the properties of dandelion.
The dandelion is grown in the synergistic garden as an organic pesticide: its flowers attract ladybugs, entomophagous insects (they feed on parasites that are harmful to vegetable crops).
In the jargon of flowers and plants, the dandelion or dandelion takes on the meaning of coquetry, but also of trust or hope.