When I was a little boy, I remember my Grandfather Steible taking me out into the country side of Kansas City in the late Spring to dig and gather dandelion greens. My Grandfather’s family was “off the boat” German, with all the traditions and folk remedies that went with that. Some people poo poo those old remedies as fiction and witchcraft, but you’d be surprised to find that most, yes, most of those old remedies passed down from generation to generation, until the reason for doing it is lost, but the tradition has not been, are based on sound scientific facts.
When we got home with our “peck” of dandelion greens, I’d help him clean them in the sink, trimming the roots off and the harder older leaves. He would act like I was actually helpful. He taught me to gather the greens before the flower bloomed to get the most tender leaves. I was not to pick the yellow ones for fear a dog might have watered it. That was another reason to leave the city for our gathering. We would soak the greens in ice cold water to revive them while he would make a batter of buckwheat pancakes.
Dandelions have medicinal uses both externally and internally. The fresh juice of the dandelion is an antibacterial agent and can be applied to a cut or the skin to fight the growth of Staphococcus aureus, pneumococci, meningococci and others. The latex in the plant sap near the roots of an older plant can be used to remove corns and warts.
Dandelion has been used to treat problems of the gall bladder, kidney and urinary track disorders, gallstones, jaundice, cirrhosis, hypoglycemia, dyspepsia with constipation, edema associated with high blood pressure and heart weakness, chronic joint and skin complaints, gout, eczema and acne. As a tonic dandelion is said to strengthen the kidneys. Dandelion is supposed to be a strong diuretic without depleting the body of potassium.
All of that, but my Grandfather just told me it was a Spring tonic to cleanse our blood.
The Story Continues
While the greens soaked, Granddaddy mixed a batter of buckwheat flour, eggs, milk and baking powder for our pancakes. All I remember about the pancakes is that they tasted way different than regular pancakes and not as sweet, but I loved them.
Turns out that Buckwheat is very high in fiber, has all eight essential amino acids, contains phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese among others. It is a great source of flavonoids especially rutin and lowers glucose levels and is beneficial for managing diabetes. Buckwheat also has been found to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
Surprisingly, buckwheat is not a grain, but the seed of a fruit related to rhubarb and sorrel, and therefore gluten-free.
After all the gathering, mixing, soaking and cleaning up, we had buckwheat pancakes and a salad of Dandelion greens, hard cooked eggs, bacon, spring onions and wilted with a hot bacon dressing. This stuff smells GREAT!
Granddaddy showed me how to take a little dandelion salad and plop it in the middle of one of the buckwheat pancakes. He would then roll the pancake up and eat it with his hands. This meal has stuck in my mind for over 50 years.
Where to Get Them
I have seen dandelion greens at our Whole Foods store, but I know you can get them in your yard if you don’t spray or have local dogs. Buckwheat is usually available in the health food stores or the health food section of your local store. If you can’t find it there look in the Fat Farm Store here, here or here.
I will include several recipes for Dandelion salads and ways to use buckwheat. As soon as I get some buckwheat flour I’ll take a few pictures of the dandelion/buckwheat roulade. – jughandle