As a member of the chicory family, it is not surprising that red dandelions are great in salads because of their green, tasty leaves. They may look like weeds that we should not eat, but they are actually edible and nutritious too!
If you put red dandelions side by side red dandelion microgreens, you’d think these are two different vegetables, when in fact, one is the mature, fully-grown version, and the other one is a young red dandelion. They may differ in size and appearance, they may differ in the sense that one has jagged leaves and the other oval-shaped leaves that have smooth edges, but both are edible, both pack the same nutritious content, and both have excellent taste and flavor.
Species: C. intybus
Binomial name: Cichorium intybus
Red Dandelion Microgreen Trivia
- Do not confuse red dandelion (genus Cichorium) from the red-seeded dandelion (Taraxacum erythrospermum). These are two different plants.
- Red dandelion is also known as Italian dandelion.
- The name dandelion is referencing the jagged leaves that resemble lion’s teeth.
- The roots of red dandelion are dried and ground and mixed with coffee to make chicory coffee.
Red Dandelion Microgreen Buying Guide
Red dandelion microgreens are sold in groceries, supermarkets, farmers markets, and other specialty stores. Ask around for local growers so that you can source your red dandelion microgreens locally, especially if you are in the restaurant or food catering business requiring a regular supply of red dandelion microgreens.
When buying red dandelion microgreens, buy just enough until the next grocery day. If this is the first time you are buying red dandelion microgreens, try to buy in small quantities first so that you can taste them; should you not like it, you don’t have a lot of red dandelion microgreens to dispose of and you are not being wasteful.
When buying, make sure to inspect it thoroughly. See if the leaves and stems are of good quality. It is ok if one or two are wilted, but if most of the bunch are wilted and do not appear fresh, do not buy it.
If you are buying seeds so that you can grow your own red dandelion microgreens, this will give you an idea of how many seeds you expect to get from a pack.
- 1-ounce pack contains approximately 8,000 seeds
- 4-ounce pack contains approximately 32,000 seeds
- 1-pound pack or bag contains approximately 128,000 seeds
- 5-pound pack or bag contains approximately 640,000 seeds
- 25-pound pack or bag contains approximately 3,200,000 seeds
Red Dandelion Microgreen Production & Farming in Texas
Growing red dandelion microgreens is easy. Put soil on your growing tray. Moisten the soil if it feels dry but do not overwater it because if this happens, you need an extra hour just to make sure the excess water has fully drained. The next step is sprinkling the seeds on the growing medium. If you are unsure how many seeds you need, 1.25 ounces of seeds are enough to cover a 10×20 tray without the problem of overcrowding. Lightly mist the seeds using a spray bottle. Cover the tray with a lid and keep it somewhere dark with a room temperature ranging from 60°F to 70°F. Remove the lid and mist them lightly every day. For red dandelion microgreens, expect signs of germination in 2 to 3 days. The next step is exposing them to sunlight. You can use grow light, artificial light, or indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight is not recommended because the microgreens will easily dry. Red dandelion microgreen seeds require no presoaking. Blackout time is between 4 to 5 days. Red dandelion microgreens are ready for harvest in about 15 to 25 days.
- Buy red dandelion microgreen seeds from a reputable seed seller or distributor.
- Water from the side of the tray to make sure the weight of the water will not squash the microgreens, or maintain water in the water tray.
- Try to sample a few each day starting from day 10. You’ll notice the subtle difference in flavor as the microgreens continue to grow.
- Rotate crop once it is exposed to light to avoid “bending” microgreens.
- Molds can “hop” from plants to your microgreens, so avoid putting your grow trays beside other plants just to be safe.
There are farmers and growers in Texas who grow red dandelion microgreens, ranging from small backyard urban gardening to big commercial operations. Many here in Texas grow microgreens for their supply and consumption. There are also initiatives in Texas like the Big Tex Urban Farms that help promote the business as well as the attitude of the public towards microgreens. Texas restaurants with microgreens on the menu use and mix different microgreens including red dandelion microgreens.
Microgreens are a fast-growing crop. This means there is very little time for pests to be a problem. If there is a pest `problem, it will probably involve aphids and whiteflies. If the problem requires the use of pesticides, make note of the following:
- Aphids – Kill aphids using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control.
- Whiteflies – Malathion or Pyrethrins are effective against whiteflies.
The red dandelion is native to Italy and is grown today in the Mediterranean region as well as in the US for commercial production. Besides mature greens, there is also a market today for red dandelion microgreens.
Because of grow lights and temperature-controlled rooms, it is possible to grow any microgreens anywhere in the world, and that includes red dandelion microgreens. North America is a major microgreens market. The US (where microgreens originated), Canada, and Mexico are among the top producing countries of microgreens.
Red dandelion microgreens are sold in transparent plastic clamshell packaging or Styrofoam food tray covered with plastic wrap.
Enjoying Red Dandelion Microgreens
You can eat red dandelion microgreens raw, and when you do, you will notice that it has a peppery taste. Wash them, dry them, and put them in a bowl for anyone who wants to snack on fresh red dandelion microgreens. This is a great way to start a healthy and nutritious snacking habit. But be careful not to eat too many red dandelion microgreens, especially if you have a history of having an allergic reaction to chicory. If you want to try red dandelion microgreens and you have a previous history of chicory allergy, it is best if you consult your physician first.
If you have to store red dandelion microgreens, make sure to wrap these in damp paper towels before you put these inside a resealable plastic bag or food container. They will last for a week this way. Freezing is not ideal because microgreens simply do not have the structural strength mature, full-grown vegetables have to survive being frozen and thawed. Most of the time, freezing and thawing will turn microgreens into slime, and what is left is unappetizing.
If the red dandelion microgreens you bought came in clamshell packaging, use it to store red dandelion microgreens in the refrigerator. If, for some reason, you need to transfer the red dandelion microgreens to a different container, choose a plastic container with a lid. The least ideal storage is glass because it has the most condensation when in the refrigerator and the condensation contributes to the degradation of the quality of the red dandelion microgreens inside. Avoid putting them near the vent of the refrigerator because if the temperature fluctuates, it will affect the condition of the red dandelion microgreens. Put it on the lower shelf where the temperature is more stable. Remember that different microgreens vary when it comes to how long they keep in the refrigerator.
You can use red dandelion microgreens as a replacement for red dandelion greens when making salads. Let romaine or other lettuces be the big leafy greens and use red dandelion microgreens to give the salad or sandwich not just a peppery flavor but an added layer of texture as well. You can also put red dandelion microgreens on your pasta. Soups, curries, and stews often include big, leafy greens, but every once in a while try using microgreens instead, like red dandelion microgreens. If you are thinking when is the best time to use or add red dandelion microgreens, consider what food complements the taste of red dandelion microgreens, like pork and ham, anchovies, eggs, legumes, soy sauce and vinegar, mustard, onion, and sesame, to name a few.
Just like the mature, fully-grown red dandelion, the microgreen version is also packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Red dandelion microgreens also contain iron, calcium, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids.