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Can You Freeze Dandelion Greens?

How to freeze dandelion greens

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on preserving the nutritional powerhouse that is dandelion greens. In this article, we delve into the versatile world of these leafy greens, highlighting their health benefits and the various ways you can incorporate them into your daily diet. 

Our primary focus will be on freezing dandelion greens, a method that not only retains their nutritional value but also extends their shelf life, ensuring you can enjoy their goodness year-round. Dandelion greens are more than just a common backyard weed; they’re a source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Whether you’re a seasoned forager, a gardening enthusiast, or simply a health-conscious individual, understanding how to properly freeze dandelion greens is essential. We’ll guide you through each step, from preparation to preservation, ensuring your greens stay as fresh and nutritious as the day you picked them.

Join us as we explore the ins and outs of handling dandelion greens, offering you practical tips and delicious recipes along the way. Whether you’re curious about the freezing process, looking for storage tips, or in search of culinary inspiration, we’ve got you covered. Let’s set off on this green journey together, making the most of these wonderful, wild greens.

Table of Contents

Understanding Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are not just a common sight in meadows and lawns; they’re a nutritional treasure trove that we often overlook.

In this section, we’re going to explore what makes dandelion greens a must-have in your diet and how you can easily source them. 

Introduction to dandelion greens

What Are Dandelion Greens?

Dandelion greens are the leaves of the common dandelion plant. Far from being simply weeds, these greens are packed with Vitamins A, C, E, K, and B vitamins. They also contain minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

They’re also rich in antioxidants and have been linked to several health benefits, including improved digestion and reduced inflammation.

Nutritional Breakdown

A serving of dandelion greens provides a substantial amount of your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. Here is a nutritional breakdown of dandelion greens per 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces).

Nutrient TypeAmount per 100g
Calories45 kcal
Protein2.7 g
Total Fat0.7 g
Saturated Fat0.17 g
Carbohydrates9.2 g
Dietary Fiber3.5 g
Sugars0.71 g
Calcium187 mg
Iron3.1 mg
Magnesium36 mg
Phosphorus66 mg
Potassium397 mg
Sodium76 mg
Zinc0.41 mg
Vitamin C35 mg
Thiamin (Vitamin B1)0.19 mg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)0.26 mg
Niacin (Vitamin B3)0.806 mg
Vitamin B60.251 mg
Folate (Vitamin B9)27 µg
Vitamin A10161 IU
Vitamin E3.44 mg
Vitamin K778.4 µg

Sourcing Dandelion Greens

You might be surprised to learn that the greens you need could be growing in your backyard! Foraging for dandelion greens can be a rewarding experience. Ensure that the areas you forage from are free of pesticides and other chemicals.

Alternatively, dandelion greens are increasingly available at farmers’ markets and health food stores, especially during the spring and early summer.

As an aside, if living off the land and being eco-friendly is something you’re aspiring to do more of, this article for repurposing juicing pulp complements that mindset quite nicely.

Seasonal Availability

Dandelion greens are at their best in the spring when they’re tender and less bitter. However, they can be found throughout the summer and fall. The flavor becomes more robust and slightly bitter as the season progresses, which some people prefer for specific recipes.

Preparing Dandelion Greens For Freezing

Now that we understand the value of dandelion greens, let’s discuss how to prepare them for freezing. Freezing is an excellent way to preserve their nutritional benefits and enjoy them throughout the year. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to freeze your dandelion greens effectively.

Clean and prepare your dandelion greens

Step 1: Clean and Prep Your Greens

Rinse Thoroughly: Wash your dandelion greens under cold running water to remove any dirt or insects. It’s important to be thorough, as the leaves and stems can hold onto grit.

Sort and TrimDiscard any tough stems or leaves that are discolored or damaged. You want to freeze the best quality greens for optimal taste and nutrition.

Blanch your dandelion greens

Step 2: Blanching Dandelion Greens

Blanching is a crucial step before freezing most vegetables, and dandelion greens are no exception. It helps preserve their vibrant color, texture, and nutritional value. Here’s how to blanch them:

Blanch: Submerge your dandelion greens in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes.

Ice Bath: Immediately transfer the blanched greens to a bowl of ice water. This stops the cooking process and helps retain their bright green color.

Drain and Dry: Drain the greens and gently pat the greens dry with a clean kitchen towel or use a salad spinner. Excess moisture can lead to freezer burn or ice crystals, affecting the texture of the greens.

Freeze your dandelion greens

Step 3: Freeze Your Greens

Portion the Greens: If you plan to use the greens in specific recipe sizes, portion them out accordingly. This makes it easier to use the exact amount you need later, without having to defrost the entire batch.

Pack for Freezing: Place the greens in freezer-safe bags or containers. Remove as much air as possible from bags to prevent freezer burn. Label the bags or containers with the date, so you know when they were frozen.

Freezing: Lay the bags or containers flat in the freezer. Once frozen solid, you can reposition them as needed to save space.

Video: The Facts on Freezing Your Vegetables

To Blanch Or Not To Blanch?

A question we’re often asked is: Can you freeze dandelion greens without blanching? Freezing dandelion greens without blanching is certainly possible and can be a time-saver. First there are a couple things you’ll want to keep in mind. 

As we covered in the previous section, the blanching process involves briefly boiling the greens and then plunging them into ice water. This process deactivates enzymes that can lead to spoilage, ensuring the greens maintain their quality in the freezer.

If you prioritize convenience and decide not to blanch your dandelion greens before freezing, you’ll want to use them within a shorter timeframe. While blanched greens can last up to a year in the freezer, unblanched greens are best used within six months.

Another reason to use unblanched greens sooner than later? We’ve found that unblanched greens tend to undergo more textural changes and flavor loss over time compared to blanched greens.

How To Store Dandelion Greens in the Refrigerator

Storing your dandelion greens in the refrigerator

While freezing is ideal for long-term storage, sometimes we need to store dandelion greens in the refrigerator for shorter periods. Refrigeration requires a bit of care upfront in order to maintain freshness for as long as possible.

Typically, when stored correctly, dandelion greens can stay fresh in the refrigerator for about a week. To do that follow these steps:

Step 1: Clean

Before refrigerating, wash the greens thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt or insects. It’s crucial to remove any soil that might otherwise speed up spoilage.

Step 2: Dry

After washing, gently pat the greens dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. You can also use a salad spinner to remove excess water. Ensure the greens are as dry as possible to prevent wilting.

Step 3: Wrap It Up

Lay the greens out on a dry paper towel and loosely roll them up. This method helps in absorbing any excess moisture, keeping the greens crisp.

Step 4: Pack Properly

Place the wrapped greens in a plastic bag or an airtight container. If using a bag, make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing.

Important: Make sure to avoid overcrowding. Packing too many greens into one container or bag can cause the greens to become slimy and spoil faster.

Step 5: Refrigerator Placement

Store the greens in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. This drawer maintains a slightly different humidity level, which is ideal for leafy greens.

Spin the Food Tip

If your dandelion greens start to wilt, you can often revive them. Soak the wilted greens in a bowl of ice water for about 10 minutes. This helps to restore their crispness.

Other Methods To Preserve Dandelion Greens

Preserving dandelion greens extends their shelf life and allows us to enjoy their benefits throughout the year. Beyond freezing and refrigeration, there are several methods to preserve these nutrient-rich greens. Let’s explore some effective techniques.

Drying dandelion greens with a food dehydrator

Drying Dandelion Greens

Drying is a traditional method of preservation that’s perfect for dandelion greens. Dried greens can be used in teas, soups, and as seasoning.

Method 1: Air-Dry
Tie the greens in small bunches and hang them in a warm, dry place with good air circulation. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can bleach out the nutrients.

Method 2: Use the Oven
Lay the greens on a baking sheet and place them in an oven at the lowest setting. Leave the door slightly ajar for air circulation. Check regularly until they’re completely dry.

Method 3: Use a Food Dehydrator
If you have a food dehydrator such as this, spread the greens in a single layer on the trays. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for temperature and time.

How to pickle your Dandelion Greens

Pickling Dandelion Greens

Pickling is another excellent way to preserve dandelion greens. The acidic environment of pickling liquids helps keep the greens fresh for a long time.

Typically, a mixture of vinegar, water, and salt is used. You can also add spices for flavor. In order to retain texture, you’ll want to blanch your greens like we covered above. Place the blanched greens in sterilized jars and cover them with the vinegar solution. Then seal the jars tightly.

Pickled dandelion greens can be stored in the refrigerator for several months.

Make your dandelion greens into pesto

Making Dandelion Greens Pesto

One of our favorite methods to preserve dandelion greens is to turn it into a pesto, which can be refrigerated or frozen.

To do this, first combine your dandelion greens with garlic, nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice. Blitz it all up in a blender or food processor.

Place the pesto in a jar and top it up with a layer of good quality olive oil before sealing. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for longer storage.

How To Cook Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens can be prepared using various cooking techniques, each offering a unique flavor and texture.

Method
SautéingSautéing dandelion greens in a bit of olive oil with garlic is a simple yet delicious way to prepare them. They cook down quite a bit, so start with more than you think you’ll need.
Boiling or Steaming:Boil or steam the greens for a softer, more mellow flavor. This method is great for reducing bitterness.
BraisingFor a heartier dish, braise the greens with onions, garlic, and a little broth. This slow-cooking method allows the greens to absorb all the delicious flavors.
Adding to Soups and StewsChop the greens and add them to soups and stews. They’ll impart a mild, earthy flavor.
Raw in SaladsYoung, tender dandelion greens can be eaten raw in salads. Mix them with other salad greens to balance their bitter taste.

Delicious Dandelion Greens Recipes

Now that we’ve mastered the art of storing and cooking dandelion greens, let’s dive into some tantalizing recipes. These recipes will not only add a burst of flavor to your meals but also ensure you’re reaping all the health benefits these greens have to offer.

Classic sauteed Dandelion Greens Recipe
Photo Credit: Feta Topalu (Mashed.com)

Classic Sautéed Dandelion Greens

INGREDIENTS

  • Dandelion Greens
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon

Method

  • Sauté garlic in olive oil
  • Add the greens
  • Cook until wilted
  • Finish with lemon juice

 

Dandelion Green and White Bean Soup recipe
Photo Credit: Preston Maring (kaiserpermanente.org)

Dandelion Green and White Bean Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • Dandelion greens
  • Cannellini beans
  • Vegetable broth
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Herbs and seasoning

Method

  • Sauté onions and garlic
  • Add carrots, then beans and broth
  • Bring to a boil and add chopped dandelion greens
  • Simmer until the greens are tender
Dandelion Green Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette recipe
Photo Credit: Elise Kornack (Saveur.com)

Dandelion Green Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS
  • Young dandelion greens
  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Cherry tomatoes,
  • Cucumber
Vinaigrette: Olive oil, honey, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper

Method

  • Toss the greens and vegetables together
  • Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients and drizzle over the salad.

Juicing Dandelion Greens

Juicing dandelion greens is an excellent way to enjoy their health benefits in a refreshing form.

Here are some of our Editor’s top tips for juicing some delicious concoctions with your greens:

  • Balance the bitterness of dandelion greens with sweeter fruits or milder vegetables.
  • Start with a small amount of dandelion greens and gradually increase it as you get accustomed to the taste.
  • Always clean the greens thoroughly before juicing.

Conclusion

Dandelion greens, often overlooked and underrated, are a powerhouse of nutrition and flavor. Whether you’re a health enthusiast, a culinary explorer, or simply someone looking to add more greens to your diet, dandelion greens offer a wealth of benefits. We encourage you to experiment with these greens in your kitchen, using the tips and recipes we’ve shared. The versatility, health benefits, and delicious possibilities of dandelion greens await your discovery.

Remember, the world of nutritious eating is not just about what we eat, but also how we incorporate these ingredients into our daily lives. Dandelion greens, with their wide array of preparation and cooking methods, are a perfect example of this. We hope this guide inspires you to embrace this wonderful green and make it a staple in your healthy, flavorful culinary adventures.

And be sure to check this out if you’re curious about the longevity of your other favourite food ingredients.

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