Category: Foraging

How to Make Dandelion Capers

It was only a few years ago that I discovered just how truly versatile—and tasty—dandelions can be.

It started with one project: dandelion wine. I’d just recently gotten winemaking experience under my belt and was eager to try something that wasn’t an expensive store-bought kit. I soon found dandelion wine, and looking out at the dandelions in our then yard (we have no yard space now, only garden), I knew it wouldn’t be hard to collect what I needed.

While the end result wasn’t perfect, I knew the mixed results were largely due to my limited winemaking experience. Every year since I’ve worked on perfecting my dandelion wine and it’s now a year-round staple at our place, and one of the first projects every spring is a new batch.

From there, I started to explore the other offerings of this “weed” that people were so desperate to get rid of.

  • There was dandelion green pesto—which wasn’t quite our thing but was well-liked by some family members.
  • Then there was dandelion cordial—which is nice and tastes quite refreshing served over ice.
  • Soon following was dandelion jelly—or poor man’s honey, as it’s sometimes known. While my husband and I generally don’t eat jelly, this was indeed tasty and it’s an easy giveaway gift.
  • This year I ventured into dandelion root coffee to great success.

And the remaining dandelion recipe in my arsenal is dandelion capers.

What are capers?

For the longest time, I thought capers were seafood. I didn’t know exactly what they were, but I’d always believed they were from a fish or a clam or an oyster or something. Maybe it was the slightly salty taste they sometimes have.

So when I first heard about dandelion capers, I was beyond baffled.

Regular capers are pickled and seasoned flower buds—nasturtium flowers, to be specific. Suddenly this food that I typically avoided at all cost were mildly intriguing.

And when I learn of a new canning recipe, especially a unique one, I have to try it.

Picking dandelion buds

To start, you want to pick dandelion buds. Not soon-to-bloom buds on the end of long stems. You want the buds that are tightly nestled at the centre of the leaves. Sometimes after you pinch off a bud, there are even smaller ones beneath that.

(This year my step-dad picked all the buds for me, so I don’t have a picture of what this looks like, so you’ll have to use your imagination! I’ll try to remember to update this page with a pic next year.)

The quantity needed is entirely up to you. You can pick just enough for one jar or go bananas and make gallons of capers.

It’s best if you process the buds the same day. However, we couldn’t work that timing out this year so my step-dad froze the buds and I used them within a couple weeks. There does not seem to be a reduction in quality for having been frozen, but I’d recommend not letting them stay frozen for long—ice buildup and freezer burn will certainly degrade the quality of the final product.

When sorting through what you’ve picked, you want to keep the tight bugs that likely don’t have any petals formed yet. A bud that’s close to opening or which you can see hints of yellow poking through are too mature and should go in the compost. Ideally, the buds you want are about the size of a pea or smaller.

Once the buds have been picked, rinsed of dirt and bugs, and sorted so you have all the best buds, you can begin the process of pickling them. From here you can look to the recipe card lower down for the full directions, which include boiling water, vinegar, and salt to create a pickling brine.

You can choose to refrigerator pickle them or water bath can them. Processing in a water bath canner will get you a longer shelf life since they’ll be properly canned, but refrigerator pickling them (just sticking the jar in the fridge and not processing them) will likely result in a crisper texture since they’re not being boiled.

How to use dandelion capers

You can use dandelion capers any place where you’d use regular capers. Which, I must admit, I rarely do. Given my earlier aversion to capers, caper recipes are not in my personal stash of dinner recipes.

With a quick google search you can find some great recipes that use capers.

Personally, with my wide variety of pickled and canned goodies, I often serve them at a barbecue. I’ll have a “choose your own appetizer” spread set out with a baked brie and crackers at the centre, dandelion capers, pickled beets, pickled garlic, and whatever pickled or fermented produce I have in my fridge. It’s a great way for people to taste test a bunch of projects and also a great way to use up something I don’t often personally eat.

Dandelion Capers

Turn dandelions from your yard into tasty, tangy capers.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes


  • Mason Jars


  • 2 cups Dandelion Buds
  • cup Vinegar, either regular or cider, as long as it's at least 5% acid
  • cup Water
  • 1 tsp Salt


  • Clean dandelion buds and discard any that are too large, close to opening, or in bad shape. Pack dandelion buds into mason jars.
  • Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil, ensuring salt is dissolved.
  • Pour brine over dandelion buds, leaving a ½ inch headspace.
  • Refrigerator pickles:
    Put lid on and place jar in the fridge. After a week or so, they will be ready to eat.
    Water bath canning:
    Wipe rims and screw lids on to fingertip tightness. Process in a water bath canner for ten minutes. When the ten minutes is over, remove pot from heat and let sit for five minutes. Carefully remove mason jars and set on a towel on the counter to sit overnight. In the morning, check that the lids have popped / sealed; if they have, they can be stored in a cool dry place, if any jars haven't sealed, refrigerate them and consume them first.


Any size mason jar can be used. I tend to use one-cup or half-cup jars.
If you have more or less dandelion buds, this recipe can be easily multiplied or divided as needed.
If you find you’re short on brine, top off jars with vinegar.

How to Make Dandelion Coffee

Several years ago, a strange plant appeared in our garden.

We have a habit of letting these things grow, to see what nature has inadvertently given us. That strange plant ended up being wild mustard. With a little bit of googling, I learned how to harvest mustard seeds and then how to make my own mustard.

In the years since, we learned that wild mustard is an noxious weed in the province of Manitoba (because it will invade canola crops), so we acquired seeds for a different variety of mustard and now grow that. Mustard is an annual crop for us and friends and family look forward to my homemade mustard.

Since then, I’ve always been on the lookout for other edible plants in the garden, especially ones that we haven’t planted ourselves.

That’s when I focussed on the dandelions.

Dandelion Uses

Dandelion has several different uses and every part of the plant is edible. And while there are multiple varieties of dandelion, they are all safely edible, and there are no dangerous look-alike plants, so you can be confident in using the dandelions in your yard without giving it too much thought.

The uses of dandelion are surprisingly extensive. They include:

  • Dandelion wine
    • This is really good and I make a big batch every year
  • Dandelion jelly, sometimes known as “poor man’s honey”
  • Dandelion leaf pesto
  • Roasted dandelion roots
  • Medicinal salves

The list really does go on. I recently came across a recipe for “dandelion root fries”.

This year I tackled one I’ve been eyeing for a while — dandelion root coffee.

I’ve had dandelion root coffee a few times before, which is sometimes marketed as dandelion root tea. It has a surprisingly robust flavour that is quite similar to coffee. Sometimes it seems to have a hint of mocha flavour too. As someone that can’t have much coffee (I react poorly to it if I consistently have too much), I’m always on the lookout for good-tasting alternatives — and this is it!

Dandelion Root Coffee

The “how to” is surprisingly simple.

You dig up roots.

You wash them, dry them, and trim blemishes and straggly bits off. And chop them into small pieces.

You roast them. You can do them in the oven at 400 F for about 30-45 minutes; put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and give it a shake every 5-8 minutes. Alternatively, I used the air fryer with the same method — 400 F for 30-45 minutes, give it a shake every 5-8 minutes. The only difference is I lined the air fryer basket with foil instead of parchment paper.

Let it cool completely. Then store in a cool, dry place, in an airtight container.

To make coffee, you can either use the small pieces and steep them like tea, or you can grind them and use them in a French press, or any other coffee-making appliance. I used the same amount of ground roots as I do coffee.

The result? Delicious.

Even better — it costs nothing and it’s caffeine-free.

Dandelion Root Coffee

When roasted and ground, dandelion roots make a very tasty coffee substitute, with a full-bodied flavour and just a hint of mocha.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Coffee


  • Oven or Air Fryer


  • Dandelion Roots


  • Wash dirt off dandelion roots and trim off any blemished areas or thin strands.
  • Chop roots into equal-sized small pieces.
  • Roast at 400° F for 30-45 minutes. This can be done on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in the oven or in an air fryer lined with foil. Check every 5–8 minutes, shaking each time. If some roots are roasted and dried before others, they can be removed.
  • Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
  • To make dandelion coffee:
    Roasted dandelion roots can be used in chunks or ground with a coffee grinder. If using chunks, use them like tea, steeping until desired taste is achieved. If using ground roots, use like ground coffee in a French press or other coffee maker, using similar number of scoops.
Keyword coffee alternatives, dandelion root coffee, dandelions