Dandelion Flower Cookies (vegan, gluten-free)
Adding dandelion flower to a recipe brings some sunshine to your day. Look out for their yellow heads in a field, and make these easy and delicious dandelion flower cookies!
Like beaming yellow balls of sunshine, dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) flowers can brighten up any field or ditch. Although many people these days dismiss them as little more than stubborn lawn weeds, humans always had a strong connection with dandelions, using them as a source of food and medicine for centuries.
Dandelions have a strong relationship with the sun. Their bright yellow flowers open up when they sense the first light of the morning, and close again when the light starts to dissipate in the evening. They are also one of the first plants to develop flowers in spring, and one of the last to return to dormancy in the winter. You might notice that dandelions flower more abundantly in the spring and fall than during the summer. This is because they prefer cooler weather.
Dandelions have been part of many stories and beliefs throughout the centuries. They were seen as a symbol of hope, love, and the coming of summer. In some places they were called called “fairy clocks” because their flowers open and close in a predictable way. Dandelions were also used as a tool for divination. If you blew a seed head, to some thought the number of seeds remaining would represent the number of children you will have, and others believed the seeds would turn into fairies who would fly on the wind and grant you a wish. Maybe as a child you did this and made a wish too!
Every part of a dandelion plant is edible and packed with nutrients. While their greens can taste slightly bitter and spicy, dandelion petals have a sweet and delicate flavor. This makes the flowers an excellent addition to sweet drinks, desserts, and snacks like the cookies we're making for this recipe. Dandelions are versatile medicinal plants that can be used to benefit your health in many ways. Supporting blood sugar regulation, healthy blood pressure, digestion, liver- and bone health are only a few of their special gifts. Their flowers contain mild pain relieving properties. This means they can help relieve aches, pains, and sore muscles. They can also be to treat skin irritation and other topical issues.
Dandelions not only helps our health, they support the wider ecosystem. Their flowers offer an important and early food source for many pollinators, while the deep taproots draw nutrients from deeper soil layers to the surface, making them available for other species. The roots also help loosen compacted earth, which creates a micro-climate that is friendly to earthworms and other life that further supports the health of the soil.
Since dandelions grow all over the world (on all seven continents, even Antarctica!) it likely won't be very difficult for you to find some where you live. They have a great ability to adapt to different conditions and climates, no matter how challenging. Dandelions can grow at altitudes ranging from sea level to 3.2 kilometers (10,500 feet), in open meadows, disturbed areas, gardens, and parks. You can even find them in the city growing between tiny cracks in the sidewalk. Humans often provide dandelions with various challenges like herbicides and lawn mowers, but thanks to their adaptable and tenacious nature, they often manage to survive nonetheless.
While they prefer the coolness of the shade, dandelions will still do well in hotter locations with direct sunlight. Although they prefers loose, healthy, and nutrient-dense soil, they can also find their way when the soil is dry, rocky, or compacted. As you can see, dandelions truly offer us an inspiring example when it comes to adaptability and perseverance.
You can easily identify dandelions by their yellow blooms and basal leaves (leaves that grow from the bottom of the stem). Dandelion flowers grow on individual hollow stems that don't have any branches. The leaves are lobed and produce a milky sap when they tear.
In Europe and the United States there are a few wild plants that have similar features to dandelions. These plants are not toxic, and even have some of their own unique benefits. This makes foraging for dandelions relatively easy and safe, although it is always important to make sure you have found the right plant. Two dandelion lookalikes are Cat's Ear (Hypochaeris radicata), which has stems that branch and are hollow, and Sow Thistle (Sonchus spp.), which can have prickly spines, and has a stem that's not hollow and has leaves growing on it.
HARVESTING AND PROCESSING DANDELION
Whether when working with dandelions or anything else in nature, it’s important to walk softly on the Earth and to forage with care. We are guests and receivers of gifts from wild lands and forests, so please consider how you can do this respectfully and only take what you need. When you harvest dandelion flowers, maybe you could consider to, in your own way, offer a small gesture of gratitude to the plants that have so generously given you part of themselves.
If possible, it's best to harvest dandelion flowers on a sunny, dry day, when the flowers are open. It's more challenging to work with them when they are closed, and for this recipe you only work with the flower petals. This means you have to remove the sepals (green parts) from the flowers. This can be a bit time-consuming, but offers a nice opportunity to really spend some time with the plant and get to know the flowers. Also be mindful to only select dandelions that grow in an area free from prayed herbicides and other pollutants.
Perhaps you are wondering if harvesting some flowers will negatively affect the bees and other pollinators. The good news is that when you harvest dandelion flowers before they go to seed, this actually encourages the plant to produce more flowers. This process of stimulating regrowth is also called 'deadheading.' You could also consider the pollinators by harvesting the flowers in the mid to late afternoon. At this time, they will most likely have already visited them.
VISUAL GUIDE TO DANDELION FLOWER COOKIES RECIPE
After learning a lot about dandelion, it's now time for some fun in the kitchen! You can follow along with the images to work through the different steps of making your cookies. At the bottom of this page you will find the full recipe.
DANDELION FLOWER COOKIES RECIPE
Disclaimer: Every year there are people that are poisoned or experience other negative health effects from eating inedible wild plants or mushrooms that resemble edible species. For this reason it's essential to ensure proper species identification and to consult multiple quality sources for doing this. It's also important to always be aware of your unique health considerations, and to check and follow all local foraging regulations before you harvest anything in nature.