When I was a child I have memories of concocting magic potions from dandelion heads. I used to cringe when a boy would grab the flower and say, "Momma had a baby and it's head popped off" and decapitate the flower from its milky stem. I used to weave those stems and flowers into garlands for my hair.
Now as an adult with a home of her own I am warding off the man with the mower. "No dear, you can't mow until the dandelions have passed." Each morning I walk along the orchard and collect the young greens for the dehydrator and a salad for later in the day. This past week I collect the heads for a small batch of dandelion wine. A wine we will enjoy next spring when it is fully matured. I dig dandelion roots to make a tincture of dandelion.
According to Deb Soule, in her book A Woman's Book of Herb's, Dandelion root tea or tincture is "valuable for woman going through menopause to take on a regular, long term basis for helping regulating hormone changes." Dandelion is also great liver tonic which helps with the transition from a winter diet; heavy in fats and meat, to a spring/summer diet that is lighter and filled with more fresh veggies.
Dandelions are the perfect wild food. Abundant, easy to identify, and most parts of the dandelion are edible. The greens make salads and teas, the flowers can be cooked to make a tempura, and the roots can be used as a coffee substitute. In terms of food storage it is a nice crop to start the preservation season with. This blog post has a great recipe for dandelion jelly I would like to try. Alas we are supposed to have a week of rain. I hope there will still be blossoms to pick after the rain has ended so that I can try it.
I am just a sucker for a cheerful splash of yellow on a canvas of spring green:)