Dandelion Treasure?

dandelionAs I walk past our nearby elementary school, I search for the first fuzzy yellow dandelions. Although I want them out of my yard, deep in my grown-up heart, I still like them.

As a six-year-old, I heard God sprinkled dandelions on lawns like manna. Sometimes He turned them to gold during the night. The financial possibilities made it worth a try.

The gold coin story did not pan out, but I still welcomed dandelions. Softer than my baby brother’s hair, they dotted the gray-brown Indiana landscape, reminding me better than any catechism that God loves color. I showered my mother with bouquets. She never turned them down.

One evening Mama surprised my siblings and me. We would pick dandelions for supper! I did not realize they were good to eat. Or that our old refrigerator was empty. Mama acted as if we were going on a picnic.

“These look good.” She bent and nipped off leaves.

Grown-ups rarely made sense. “Aren’t we going to eat the flowers?”

“No. Some people use them to make wine, but we’re eating just the greens.”

“Can’t we make wine?”

Mama’s eyebrows rose. “Probably not a good idea.”

My father’s congregation might not take kindly to a bootleg wine-making operation in the church basement.

My seven-year-old brother grabbed the big greens first.

“Thank you.” Mama shook dirt from our offerings. “But little ones are best.”

Ha! My spindly greens topped his!

I asked Mama, “What do cooked dandelions taste like?”


I’d never eaten spinach. But on TV, Popeye’s cans of spinach helped him clobber the bad guys!

Maybe dandelions possessed the same magic. I insisted on a big bowl for supper. Muscles would pop out on my skinny arms. I would teach Kevin, the mouthy kid across the alley, some manners!

I took my first bite.

Maybe we should have made wine.

Though I gulped several spoonfuls, I didn’t hear Popeye’s happy music. My arms still looked like plucked chicken wings. Maybe if the dandelions had come from a can instead of the churchyard, the spell might have worked.

Decades later, dandelion greens, no longer a dubious alternative to going hungry, are chopped, pickled and curried in hundreds of international recipes.

I take home the fresh, green pile I have gathered. When I find the right recipe, I will dine on four-star fare for lunch. My personal skeptic insists I will be eating weeds at my kitchen table stacked high with bills. Ignoring her, I search the Internet for recipes.

Who knows? Chopped in my repent-after-the-holidays salad, dandelions might make me as skinny as Olive Oyl.

Fat chance.

When the first dandelion of the year pops up in your yard, what childhood memory pops into your mind? And do you have a favorite dandelion recipe?

4 thoughts on “Dandelion Treasure?

  1. Mary

    I’ve tried dandelion greens. No matter how fresh – before-they flower I pick them they still taste too bitter for me to like. It’s hard to believe that Dandelions were brought here with the Europeans in order to use as salad greens. North American Indians never had to Weed and Feed the prairie – no dandelions.

    1. rachael Post author

      Mary, I didn’t know dandelions weren’t native to American! Maybe we should send Europe our Weed-and-Feed bills!

      Seriously, I may grab a few this spring to eat. The Lord knows I’ll be eating plenty of repent-after-the-holidays salads–urgh. But I may cook a few in tribute to my make-it-work, dandelion-eating mama.

      Thanks for your comment, and blessings on your day, friend!

  2. Karla Akins

    We are the only yard in the ‘hood with yellow dandelions. We’re a preacher’s family and don’t have the luxury of landscapers. And our yard is way too large to afford killer for flowers that I enjoy seeing pop up anyway. I, too, love them.

    My grandmother insisted on making dandelion tea. I was forced to drink it a time or two. I wasn’t impressed. But I’m quite sure she sneaked those leaves into my salads when I wasn’t looking.

    1. rachael Post author

      LOL, Karla, I haven’t tried to sneak them into my husband’s salad (he’s a confirmed green-hated), but I’ll have to try it, as I see they are on the march into our yard. We have a big yard, too, and I doubt either of us gets around to chasing them off–the violets, either. Which is fine with me. . . .

      Thanks for your dandelion comments, and a blessed Easter to you, friend!


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