Picking Dandelions: How And When To Harvest Dandelions

Person Harvesting Dandelions
pick dandelion
(Image credit: robertprzybysz)

Dandelion tea is a delicious and nutritious hot beverage, especially when the dandelions are grown in your garden. Picking dandelions allows access to a cheap, healthy food source. All parts of the plant are edible, but each part is harvested at different times for the best flavor. Learn when to harvest dandelions so you get tastier leaves, roots, and flowers.

When to Harvest Dandelions

Harvesting dandelion plants throughout the growing season provides tea, salad greens, wine, and much more. These “weeds” are packed with vitamins C, A, and K, plus potassium and powerful antioxidants. Make sure your dandelion harvest is free of herbicides and pesticides and always wash all parts of the plant completely.

Want to know when to harvest dandelion plants?

  • The flowers should be taken when they are newly opened, and all the petals are still retained. To keep them fresh, put stems in a bowl of cool water.
  • Before harvesting the leaves, cover the plant with dark fabric to blanch them. This will reduce any bitterness. The youngest leaves are the tastiest, but mature leaves are still excellent sautéed.
  • For the roots, harvest at any time.

If you are harvesting the same plants annually, take leaves in the spring of the second year and roots in the fall of that year.

How to Harvest Dandelion

Use clean scissors to snip off leaves and flowers. Retain a bit of the stem on the flowers so you can keep them in water. Avoid high traffic areas when harvesting dandelion plants, especially those frequented by animals. Always wash plant material well after picking.

To keep your dandelion harvest fresh, store it in plastic bags in the refrigerator or in a lightly dampened towel. Be careful as some people report skin sensitivity to the sap. Use gloves to prevent a painful rash.

Using Dandelions

There are many yummy ways to use your dandelion harvest.

  • Fresh leaves are tasty added to a salad or cooked. For cooked greens, boil them for five minutes, then drain and transfer to a sauté pan. Fry them in oil with the seasonings of your choice.
  • You can make fritters out of the flower heads with a dip into batter and a quick fry. Remove petals and freeze them to add to muffins, pancakes, cookies, or any other baked item.
  • The roots need to be scrubbed and chopped finely, then dried in a food dehydrator or oven at low heat. Turn up the heat and gently roast them until lightly brown. Store in a cool, dry place and boil as needed for a nutritious tea.
Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.