The next time you want to toss all those dandelions out of your yard, remember this: dandelion root is known to treat arthritis, hangovers, and cellulite! Keep reading to find out how to harvest dandelion roots from your own yard!
To get started on harvesting dandelion roots, it’s best to harvest them from late fall to early spring. At this time the plant is dormant and it has stored energy in the root. If you are using the root for medicine, many people say harvesting the root in the fall is best. The levels of inulin (insoluble fiber) are higher, and the fructose levels are lower at this time. In the wintertime, the inulin converts to fructose, and this makes the roots in the spring more palatable for eating. In the spring, the roots are less bitter and chewy, and be sure to dig them up before the plants blossom
How to Dig Up the Roots
To dig up the roots you can use a dandelion digger or a fork. Try not to damage the root, as you don’t want to lose too much sap. Rich soil will yield the thickest roots. Harvest dandelion roots from areas that haven’t been sprayed or treated with chemicals. When selecting which plant to dig up, pick ones that are large. Small plants have small roots, and they aren’t really worth harvesting.
How to Preserve the Roots
You can use dandelion roots fresh for cooking and medicine. If you want to store them for longer, you can dry them. Scrub the roots well before cutting them. If you have thick roots, slice them lengthwise into evenly thick slices. This will encourage them to dry evenly. You can use a dehydrator to dry the roots until they’re brittle. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can place the roots on a screen and in a cool, dry location that has good air flow. Dry them for 3-14 days until they are brittle. Your dried roots will be good for a year.
How to Use Your Dandelion Roots
To extract the medicinal compounds from your dandelion roots, you need to make a tincture. To do this, place your dandelion roots in a jar and cover them with 40% vodka. Cover the jar tightly and allow the roots to steep for 4-6 weeks. When the time is up, strain out the roots and store in a dark glass bottle. Add a label and date it.
If you want to make a decoction, place 1 ounce of dried roots (or 2 ounces of fresh roots) in a pan with 1 pint of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then strain and toss away the roots. You can use decoctions to make healing teas. Dandelion root is well-known as a detoxifying agent, but you can also use it to treat cellulite, hangovers, and arthritis. Don’t consume dandelion root if you have an irritable stomach or bowel.
Photos: Third Culture, Hencam, Common Sense Home, Daily Hiit, Healthy Green Kitchen.