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Leontodon taraxacum

Experiments with domesticating the Dandelion to the kitchen garden date from the 1820s when Gen. H. A. Dearborn cultivated plants from the largest wild seed. Yet wild Dandelion grew so prolifically in the United States that efforts at large-scale plantings had to wait until the 1860s. Horticulturist Fearing Burr Jr. created the fashion for the garden Dandelion, exhibiting four varieties in exhibitions—the French Large-Leaved, the French Thick-leaved, the Red-seeded, and the American Improved--all larger leafed and less bitter tasting than the common wildflower. This set off a boom in the market gardening, so that it became a fashionable salad green during the last four decades of the 1800s. Appearing in winter or spring, dandelion seemed a vibrant tasting green.

When prepared in glass houses or in market gardens Dandelions were blanched to minimize bitterness. Experimentation found that watering influenced the configuration of leaves, with droughty plants more markedly pointed and narrow leaves. Naturally prone to a high degree of variation in form, the standardization of varieties took decades over the 19th century.

In Western traditional medicine the Dandelion root was reckoned to be a remedy for liver complaints. A decoction—one ounce of sliced root added to a pint of water, boiled down to half a pint, strained, and mixed with a small portion of cream of tartar—when drunk regularly counteracted jaundice.

German Americans transported a taste for Dandelion root coffee to America and made it a common beverage in certain parts of the country.

The French habit of consuming Dandelion with bread and butter never became established in North America, though the French taste for consuming Dandelion roots found a sect of American followers.

Cultivation proved to be no great problem, with seed taking to nearly any soil containing organic matter.

Arlington..    History

Broad-Leaved    History

the standard Market crop

Cabbaging    History

A Landreth Seed Company Variety.

Common French    History

Endive Leaved    History

A Thorburn Seed Company Specialty. Very fine leaves.

French Garden    History

French Thick-Leaved    History

Giant Erect    History

Improved American    History

Large Leaved    History

When cultivated its leaves are fully double the size of the common Dandelion. It is a great improvement over the common variety, and when blanched it can be prepared in every way, the same as the endive.

Moss Curled    History

Red-Seeded    History

Thick Leaved    History

Dandelions (Appledore Cook Book 1872)    History

Pick over carefully, and wash in several waters; cut off all the roots, then put into boiling water, and boil one hour; then drain off this water, and again put them into boiling water, and boil two hours longer. Put a spoonful of salt into the second water. When done, turn into a cullender and drain; then season with butter and more salt if necessary, and cut them with a knife. Serve in a deep vegetable dish. They may be boiled with a piece of salt pork, but in that case omit the butter. p. 66.

Wilted Dandelions (How to Cook Vegetables 1893)    History

Cut the roots from a quarter of a peck of young dandelions. Of course these are not fit for food after they are old enough to blossom. Wash the leaves through several cold waters, drain and shake them dry. Take a handful of leaves, cut them with a sharp knife into small pieces and put them in a saucepan. Beat one egg until light, add to it a gill of cream, stir over a fir until it thickens. Add a piece of butter the size of a walnut, two tablespoonfuls of vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Pour this over the dandelions and stir over the fire just a moment until they are wilted and tender. Serve garnished with little rolls of crisp bacaon. P. 54.

Dandelion Salad (American Kitchen Magazine 1897)    History

Select the white leaves from the inside, wash and chill in ice water for half an hour. Drain and wipe, arrange in a salad bowl and serve with a simple dressing of salt, pepper, oil & vinegar. p. 69 Vol. 18 Ap-Sept 1897.

Dandelion Coffee (New York Observer Year Book 1873)    History

This coffee is of excellent flavor, and without any of the deleterious effects of the Arabian berry. When drank at night, it produces an inclination to sleep, the plant being of a soporific nature. To prepare it for drinking, wash the roots carefully, without removing the brown skin, since that contributes much to the aroma which so strongly resembles coffee. Cut tho roots into small pieces, and roast them brown and crisp. Grind and prepare it as you would coffee, boiling it a few minutes. p. 188.

Dandelion Beer (Peterson’s Magazine 1862)    History

Take of dandelion roots, well washed, two ounces; boil them in six quarts of water for thirty minutes; strain, and add one pound of molasses, and half an ounce of yeast: to be put in a bottle and left to ferment for twelve hours. To be drank night and morning. “Dandelion Beer,” Peterson’s Magazine 41 (1863), p. 499)