Tag Archives: dandelion

Dandelion, the nature of tonics, and herbal “coffee.”

18 Jul

A few days ago, I posted a recipe for dandelion burdock soda.  I’ve given burdock a write up before, but now it’s dandelion’s turn.  Dandelion, perhaps the weediest of all lawn weeds, is full of healing powers.  The leaves are edible and make good, albeit bitter, salad greens.  The roots have a nutty flavor to them.  Dandelion root is available to buy commercially both in raw form and in roasted form.  Roasting helps to fill out the flavor, but deprives the root of some of its bitter constituents which are the powerful healing elements of the root.

P1190404 Dandelion Clock..02.05.14

(Photo credit: Tadie88)

David Hoffman sites dandelion as an ideally balanced diuretic.  Usually drugs that stimulate kidney function can also cause a loss of potassium, but because dandelion is a rich source of potassium, it replaces what might be lost, and is therefore a nourishing way of addressing water retention, particularly helpful in people who have water retention due to heart problems.

Robin Rose Bennett, in her new book The Gift of Healing Herbs (which I’ve been reading bits of daily lately) also sites dandelion as rich in iron, zinc, beta carotene, and calcium.  She uses it as a tonic for the liver, as a part of reproductive tonics, and to support the lymphatic system.  She also uses the flowers to make a tincture or an oil, which she uses in cases of emotional tension.

Susun Weed, in Healing Wise, also sites dandelion greens as valuable digestive bitters, and flowers as a pain reliever.

Overall, I’ve gleaned that dandelion gets things moving through the body, which is great when we have places that are stuck, whether in our finer fluid systems, our digestion, our circulation, or our psyche.  I know many people who, in an attempt to cleanse themselves of some perceived toxicity, turn to harsh methods such as fasting or colonics, 100 percent raw diets, or yogic salt water drink cleanses.   Many of these fasters end up with worse digestion and depleted intestinal flora after their cleanse.  Our bodies clean themselves if we support them.  If we nourish the organs that cleanse us, we don’t need to resort to deprivation techniques.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

I come across the word “tonic” applied to dandelion and many other weeds.  For a long time this word confused me.  What is a tonic?  Weed says it’s something that “nourishes the functioning (tonus) of a muscle, organ, or system; invigorates and strengthens all activity.”  This definition is odd because it defines tonic with tone.  What is tone?  Hoffman says tonics are “herbs that strengthen and enliven either a specific organ, or system, or the whole body”.   This explanation still left me confused, somehow, until I heard a definition of tone from my yoga and BMC teacher, Amy Matthews.  She defines tone as “readiness to respond.”   When I pair this definition with the understanding that “reaction” and “response” are two very different things, I get a better chance of grocking what tone is.   With balanced tone, our organs are able to rest when appropriate, and become active when necessary. Ready to respond means being attuned to any situation.  Tonic herbs are helpful because don’t just stimulate our organs:  they nourish them so that the organs can do their work and regulate themselves.  Thus, the wise woman tradition refers to herbs as our “allies,” rather than thinking of them like drug replacements.

A year or so ago, I picked up a bottle of Dand-E-Chick, a coffee replacement beverage made by a local Brooklyn lady.  I’ve had other chicory beverages that are just infuriating: I drink them, and I feel resentful that I am not actually drinking coffee.  This stuff, somehow, is better.  It has the bitter-sweetness of coffee without trying to pretend to be coffee.  Dand-E-Chick lady used to sell the grounds at Abhyasa Yoga Center, where I teach.  They haven’t turned up at the center lately, but I’ve taken to making my own version.  I think her ratio is still a little better taste-wise but here’s what I do:

 

Dandelion-Chickory coffee replacement:

Combine:

4 T ground roasted dandelion root

4 T chicory root

2 T cocoa or cinnamon

Add a couple scoops to your french press (just like you would coffee grounds), and pour boiling water over the herbs.  Let steep 5 minutes.  Pour a cup, adding milk to your taste.

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Dandelion-Burdock Soda: British and Beautiful.

16 Jul

Recently my sister went on a trip to England, and she sent me this picture of this during her travels.

From my traveling sister in England.  (I've blurred out her student's face for privacy)

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’ve actually seen this soda in New York (yeah, we have everything here).  But, it’s not so common, and it is British in origin anyway.  Nevertheless, her picture and enthusiasm inspired me to try making some of my own dandelion-burdock soda.  I chose a roasted dandelion root, which gives the brew a nice roasted, nutty flavor.  The burdock adds a pleasant sweetness to the drink.  The combination of dandelion and burdock is great therapeutically, as well.  As my friend Maya commented “double ammo for your liver!” Read my article on burdock here, and dandelion here. For my first batch, I went for simplicity and didn’t bother to add any ginger, although I might play with this same soda the next time I make a ginger bug.

Here is how I made my Dandelion-Burdock soda, with tibicos aka water kefir.  Over fourth of July weekend I brought a bottle up to New England for a taste-test from my newly returned sister.  She liked my version better than the commercial brew, which she says was much sweeter and less herbal.

Dandelion-Burdock Soda

In a herb pot or saucepan, combine:

1 and 1/2 Tbsp roasted dandelion root

1 and 1/2 Tbsp burdock root

1 quart of filtered water.  

Bring the herbs and water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes.

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This is my handy herb pot from chinatown: the best $7 investment I’ve made in a long time! The clay pot keeps my brew hot for longer during steeping time. Any saucepan will do, though.

Turn off the heat and allow them to steep for an additional half hour. Filter your herbs as you put the tea into a 2 quart container.

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The leftover “wort” (herbs) after steeping and straining.

Add an additional:

1 quart of water

1/3 cups birch syrup*

1/3 cups sucanot*

Mix your ingredients well, and test the temperature of the liquid.   It can be warm but should not be painful to the touch before you add your culture, or you will burn the tibicos– it is alive, after all!  They traditionally call this temperature “blood warm.”

Add:

1/2 cup of tibicos grains.

Give the whole thing a hearty stir, and cover it with a breathable lid, like a cloth napkin or a paper towel, and secure the towel with rubber bands to keep flies out. Taste test your brew the next day to see if it is done.  If it is too sweet for your taste, leave it another 12 hours and test again.   Fermentation could take up to 48 hours, depending on your taste and the ambient temperature.  Each time you check on it, give the tibicos a stir.  When the brew is sour enough for your taste, bottle it, and put it in the refrigerator.

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The brew, wedged between my kombucha an djun ferments, on my fermentation shelf. Fermentation time for tibicos is much shorter, though!

You may want to leave the bottled brew at room temperature for a few hours to build up some fizz, but beware of leaving it too long.  Tibicos has exploded in my refrigerator, (see my cherry explosion article).  If in doubt, it’s a good practice to “burp” your container after leaving it for this secondary fermentation.  I recently have taken to using old wine bottles for my secondary fermentation, as opposed to Grolsch bottles.  If the pressure in the wine bottle builds up too much, the cork will pop out and you will get a mess, but you avoid the danger of exploding broken glass!

 

*These are the sweeteners that I happened to use:  Sucanot also goes by the brand name rapadura, or evaporated cane syrup.  It’s just unrefined sugar.  You can find it at most health food stores.  Birch syrup is particularly pricey and hard to come by, so this can be easily replaced with maple syrup or additional sucanot.  I bought some online to try out making birch beer over a year ago, and I’ve had the leftovers sitting in the fridge ever since.  Usually, I deem it too precious to use for any old occasion.  I finally got over that and decided to use it up!

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There is the tibicos and the birch syrup, mid-process.

High Season: what’s brewing in your cabinet?

26 Jun

As we sweat through another midsummer, fermentations thrive! Here’s what I have in my cabinet today. A few are alcohol infusions, most are ferments.

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I have some writing to do about these, I guess! Stay tuned.

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