Friday, May 23, 2014

Dandelion Roots

Every spring I make a resolution to work on my edible & medicinal plant identification and actually eat it or try it.  I had always read you could eat dandelion leaves.  A couple decades ago, while backpacking in Colorado, we ran low on food.  I decided to try eating dandelion leaves. I boiled them and found them too bitter to eat.  Today, locating some well established patches I took a digging stick and harvested some.  I read in a new book, "The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide", by Creek Stewart, about boiling & eating the roots.  In the past the only references I saw with the roots were as use as a coffee substitute.  I washed and scraped them, and tried one raw.  It was a little bitter, but not overly.  I tried a raw leaf also and it was not overly bitter...yet.  I'm sure that later in the season this would change.  I boiled the roots in a couple changes of water, till it no longer was green.  They were tender, still with a hint of green taste, but not bad. They reminded of some vegetable I've had before.  I could eat a quantity of it, if I had something else to eat with it.  A little salt or butter would probably be good. The roots were a little small but a large quantity could be harvested in a reasonable period of time.
One principle Mr. Stewart puts forth in his book I like is to concentrate on the 20 % of the plants that you see 80% of the time. There are hundreds of edible plants, but it is better to focus on the ones you see all the time - not the ones that require effort to locate or have poisonous look-alikes.