Dandelion and Wild Ramps: Medicinal Spring-Time Foods

They Help Clear the Liver


Spring arrived yesterday, and the weather has been uncommonly warm here.  Inevitably, we turn our attention to spring projects and activities. For us, the polytunnel greenhouse is going up, the fence around the garden and animal enclosure is complete, and the barn/chicken house is being erected.  


In many ways, spring — with its new growth and possibilities — mirrors the sense of a new world emerging, one that is reflected in burgeoning self-sufficiency movements surfacing around the world. I can’t remember a time in my life that was so ripe with possibilities, again, the very essence of spring.  


My first project, once the greenhouse is finished (see its “skeleton” in the photo), is to create a mini “hugel” bed in the 20-by-four-foot planter boxes inside the greenhouse. These will be open at the bottom, sitting on the bed of gravel.  Then, I will put down a layer of rotting logs from our woods and layer branches, leaves, compost and finally topsoil to make a four-foot-high raised bed. I will plant spring greens, including arugula, dandelion, chicories, kale and collards, with the hope of having our own spring greens in about six weeks. Once summer comes, these beds will be home to all the hothouse annuals that love the heat and comfort of a greenhouse.


Come fall, more greens will keep us provided with vegetables all winter. During the cold months, a layer of fresh manure deep in the beds should provide extra heat for the growing plants. That’s the plan. We’ll see how it works in real life.  


The two vegetable foods that I most associate with spring are dandelion greens and wild ramps. The bitterness of the true dandelion, Taraxacum officianalis, is great for clearing out the liver after a winter of storing fat.  The bitterness of the dandelion helps the bile flow, while the nutrients in root help to regulate the blood sugar. For those without access to fresh dandelion greens, wild or cultivated, our biodynamically grown Dandelion Powder is a great substitute. I sprinkle about a quarter teaspoon on eggs, in soup or just about any savory dish we eat.  You could also use it as a tea in a tea ball or muslin tea bag.


Wild ramps are also a highly medicinal spring-time food. Emerging in damp forests, particularly near streams, the entire plant is a wonderful addition to the spring diet. An ancient member of the allium family of leeks, onions and garlic, the wild ramp can be considered the ancestor of these more cultivated varieties.  Like most spring-time foods, wild ramps help to clear stored fat deposits that were built up through the winter. (This is something my wife thinks would be good for me to eat this spring.)  


In reality, this sort of spring fat cleaning is good for everyone and was an integral part of every traditional diet and medicinal program. Again, if you don’t have access to fresh wild ramps, our Wild Ramp Powder is a great substitute.  Harvested sustainably by foragers, dried at low heat and stored in Miron jars, our Wild Ramp Powder also goes great on any savory dish. It brings that wild, slightly bitter leek like flavor that your body might crave this time of the year.  


I hope you can get out into the woods, try some foraging, pick wild dandelions, start your garden — an exciting beginning is right around the corner.


Best,

Tom