Tag: how to use dandelions

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.