Ok so I found an article in a Country Homes Magazine circa 1987 that had an article about Dandelions! Thanks mom for never throwing any magazines away. Anyway it said that dandelions should be harvested early spring before they flower, not in the middle of July. Which I knew...really I did, but my life isn't exactly in tune with the seasonal nature of plants yet. I am hoping that sort of thing comes with experience harvesting over the years. Also my plan to rinse it in a series of bowl filled with water was exactly what it suggested, so go me! It also contained a recipe for hot dandelion green salad which sounds quite yummy actually, which I will type up here.
Hot Dandelion Salad
makes 3 servings
6 slices bacon
1/4 cup red wine or apple cider vinager
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 pound dandelion greens, trimmed and washed
12 cup thinly cut green onions
In a large heavy skillet, cook bacon until crisp; drain and crumble. Discard all but 1/4 cup fat. To bacon fat in skillet, add vinager, salt, sugar and pepper. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Remove from heat one suagr is dissolved and add greens. Sitr quickly until green wilt stir in bacon and onions. Taste and adjust seasoning, serve warm.
As for Dandelion roots (or really almost any root you are harvesting) harvest after the plant has flowered and the plant is making ready for wintering. This ensures that the plant is storing nutrients in the root, when in flower all the plants energy (nutrients) are going to the seeds. Fall is usually the best time, but you can also harvest roots in early spring before the plant sends up shoots and flowers if you need to. July works too since it isn't in bloom and its had more than a month to be storing energy.