Wild About - Dandelion Buds

Did you know that every part of the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is edible (so long as no dogs have watered it)? Ok, sure, you've eaten dandelion greens; they're so 90's. And your gran used to brew dandelion wine. Maybe you've even had dandelion root tea. But have you ever tried eating the buds? Yep, they're flavorsome, too.

If you'd like to eat dandelion buds, collect those which are tightly closed. Look at the base of the plant, and closer to the ground for the newly emerged buds, which look like little buttons.

Dandelion buds are good when fried (bacon grease or butter, tough call), tasting of bitter greens with a strong floral note. But they can be used in just about any application in which you'd use a green vegetable - quiche, soups, curries; go ahead and get creative.

So, last week, I was looking at my harvest of dandelion buds when it struck me how closely they resembled capers. Ah-ha, I've never tried pickling them before! I know that great culturing adventurer, Sandor Katz, would approve of my little experiment.

I prepared the buds by stripping off their sepals, cutting off any brown or bruised spots, and washing them. I placed the buds into a sterilized jar, along with a clove of garlic, a few juniper berries, and some pink peppercorns. Next, I covered them completely with salt water, using Katz's ratio of 3/4 Tbsp. sea salt to 1 c. nonchlorinated water. The next step was to place a small sterilized glass bowl into the opening of the jar, to keep all the buds submerged under the salt water (you can also use a plastic bag filled with the brine). This sat on the counter for five days before I thought they tasted nice and zingy. So, I put a lid on them and popped 'em into the fridge.

The juniper berries make the little buds taste very close to actual capers - piney and salty and tangy. They're a wonderful condiment.

Do you want to cook something else with dandelions, the fantastic free foraged food? Then check out my recipe for fried dandelion blossoms. Fried food, yummy!

This post appears as a part of Real Food Wednesday. Click on over there and find more recipes and tips by people who stock their kitchens with real, traditional foods.

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