How to Make Delicious Pickled Dandelion Buds

April 9, 2023
Dandelion Buds

How many dandelions have you seen today? I hope many! This often misunderstood herbaceous flower is a wonderful addition to our gardens – when kept in check. It provides amazing benefits to us, and delicious food. Today, we’re going to pickle dandelion buds, which are a wildcrafted alternative to capers. These are not only fun to make – but fun to harvest!

Benefits of Dandelion

Dandelion, or Taraxacum officinale, is in the Asteraceae family (which it shares with other flowers such as sunflowers, daisies and dahlias). Dandelion is a perennial herb with a long deep taproot. Many confuse a dandelion as one flower, but it is actually an inflorescence, which is a cluster of many individual flowers, or florets. Each individual floret will turn into a seed that will reproduce a clone of its parent.

Dandelions are tenacious plants that will show up despite our resistance. And we should be thankful for their persistence, as they offer us great support. It’s no accident that its name Taraxacum derives from the Greek words “taraxos”, which means disorder, and “akos”, which means remedy.

Dandelion has an incredible list of health benefits, including improving liver function, improving our digestive system, supporting our kidneys, and decreasing inflammation.*

From the bud to the root, this plant is edible – and quite delicious! The dandelion greens are bitter, which has become a less desirable taste in modern day cuisine. This is a real shame, as bitter flavors help stimulate our taste buds, which sends a signal to our digestive system to prepare to work. Consider adding dandelion leaves to your spring salads to get used to the taste. And these pickled dandelion buds will be a great addition!

A word of caution when working with dandelion: Anyone allergic to ragweed or latex should avoid working with dandelion (latex is present in the dandelion stem). Additionally, if you are taking any medication, please check with your physician before taking dandelion. If you are working with a naturopath, please discuss the energetics of this plant to ensure it is a good fit for you.

Harvesting Dandelion Buds

Harvesting dandelion buds is a fun spring time activity! If you aren’t lucky enough to have dandelion already in your garden, you will have to find another place to harvest. Oftentimes, nearby neighbors are more than willing to allow you to harvest their dandelions. One important thing to make sure of: the area has NOT been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Please make sure you ask this question before harvesting!

Dandelion Buds

The area we will be harvesting from on the dandelion is down in the basal rosette of the plant, which is the base of the dandelion plant from where the leaves and flower stem. Look closely in the center of the basal, and you will start to see some buds. In order to pick them, simply apply pressure underneath the bud with your finger tip, and you will feel a pop as the bud releases from the basal.

But don’t stop there! A dandelion plant may have up to ten buds nestled in its basal! Keep searching and harvest the buds that you see. Make sure the buds are tightly closed and have clearly not bloomed yet. Dandelion flowers close up at night or on cloudy days, so we do not want to mistake them for buds.

Preparing the Dandelion Buds

Once we harvest about ½ to 1 cup of dandelion buds, the next step is to remove the outer bracts. These are the little green leaves that are already curved backwards from the buds. Carefully pull these away, making sure not to disturbed the inner bracts that are holding the bud together. Next, you can give them a quick rinse and brush away any dirt that remains.

Ingredients

The ingredients for pickled capers are quite simple: apple cider vinegar, garlic and salt. You can use as many garlic cloves as you like – I like to use at least 3 cloves! For a container, I prefer to use a half-pint wide mouth mason jar and a plastic leak-proof screw top. While I generally shy away from plastic, it can be incredibly useful when working with vinegar, as it will corrode metal. If you do not have a plastic screw top, make sure to put a piece of parchment paper between the metal top and vinegar. And check frequently for signs of corrosion.

Dandelion Buds and Minced Garlic

How to Pickle the Dandelion Buds

The last few steps are the easiest! Add your freshly prepared dandelion buds to your clean mason jar – making sure they fill up the jar at least halfway, but still with about ½” of headspace from the rim of the jar. Add in your minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp of salt and then fill up the jar with apple cider vinegar. 

Dandelion buds and apply cider vinegar

The dandelion buds will float to the top, but make sure to fill the apple cider vinegar to the top so that the buds are covered and there is no air in the jar. Screw on your top tightly and give it a good shake! Let sit in the fridge for at least two weeks before trying your first pickled dandelion bud! The longer you let it sit, the more pickled it will get. These buds can last in the fridge for up to a year, so make sure to put the date on the jar to keep track of expiration.

Pickled dandelion buds

There are so many ways to incorporate your pickled dandelion buds into your meals! Whether on your bagel and lox, or added to your pasta dish, or even on top of deviled eggs. Don’t forget you can use the apple cider vinegar in your salad dressing. Enjoy this fun wildcrafted addition to your meals!

* This website is for educational purposes only. The information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any diseases. Please consult a qualified health care professional for medical advice.

Pickled dandelion buds

How to Make Pickled Dandelion Buds

A wildcrafted alternative to capers
Print Recipe
Prep Time:30 minutes
Brining Time:14 days

Equipment

  • 1 half-pint wide mouth mason jar
  • 1 leak-proof plastic top for jar

Ingredients

  • 1/2-1 cup dandelion buds rinsed
  • 1-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • Harvest 1/2 – 1 cup of dandelion buds
  • Remove outer bracts from buds (make sure to leave inner bracts intact)
  • Rinse dandelion buds and wipe off any remaining dirt
  • Add dandelion buds to half-pint wide mouth mason jar
  • Minced the garlic cloves and add to the mason jar
  • Add 1 tsp of salt
  • Add apple cider vinegar until it reaches the top of the jar, leaving no room for air
  • Close with plastic top (if you only have a metal top, make sure to put a piece or parchment paper between the metal and vinegar to avoid corrosion)
  • Let brine in the fridge for at least 2 weeks before trying your first pickled dandelion bud!

Notes

Dandelion buds will last in the fridge for up to a year. Make sure to put the date on your jar to keep track of the expiration date.
Keyword: pickled dandelion buds
Author: Katie McGinn

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