I've been harvesting dandelion flowers for various uses for several years now, and there are a few tricks I have learnt along the way, so whether you are collecting them for remedies, dying yarn, brewing wine or just to add to a salad, here are a few tips for you :)
Before You Pick Your Flower Petals
- Picking dandelions will stain your finger tips and nails and although this will be removed from your skin within a couple of washes, the nails can take a bit longer. One way of reducing this is to dig your nails into a bar of soap and wipe off the excess before going to harvest your dandelions.
- If you intend to use your dandelions for food, remedies, brewing etc avoid harvesting them from the roadside where they will have absorbed excess amounts of heavy metals from car fumes. Also avoid the main parts of your lawn unless you know they haven't been trampled on or peed on by pet dogs, and from the corners of garden walls where they may have been sprayed on by the local tom cat.
- If you are using your dandelions to dye yarn, fleece etc the above point is not important so use the possibly contaminated ones for this purpose.
- Choose a dry sunny day to harvest your flowers, the sun will encourage more flowers to open, and being dry before harvesting means less chance of spoiling your recipe, especially if infusing in oil for remedies. Also it is best to finish harvesting before mid afternoon as the flowers will begin to close up for the day making them harder to pick.
Harvesting Your Dandelion Flowers
It used to take me ages to harvest enough petals for a batch of wine, as I would pull a load of flower heads off before sitting down in the sun and one by one pick all the green backs off the petals to go in the compost, it took twice as long as the way I do it now, plus my hands would be a mess for days.
- First grab your dandelion flower head by the green part at the back tightly, pinch together all of the petals in the fingers in the other hand, then firmly pull out the yellow petals, if a few bits of green sneak in it wont matter. When you have done this a couple of times you can work really quickly filling your measuring jug.
- If there is any little bugs or flies on the flower head, just gently bend over the stalk and tap them out.
- When measuring your flower petals for a recipe, firmly press them down in your jug, but not so hard that the are tightly rammed in.
I hope you find these tips helpful :)
So tell me what is your favorite use is for the humble dandelion?