Dandelion Capers

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Dandelions...Taraxacum officinale. Homeowners despise them and although I'm not quite yet a homeowner I do believe I've found the solution that will raise the lovely dandie from green lawn perfectionist's arch nemesis to a tasty value added condiment. Folks may I present the dandelion caper. Call me crazy but yes this actually works. Even better the capers actually taste great.

So what exactly is a caper? Capers are those small briny condiments that are often used in Mediterranean cooking as a seasoning or garnish. The capers themselves are actually the bud of the caper plant.  Unfortunately the caper plant is hardy to zones 9-11. Not so great for the northern gardener in zone 4.

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What's the Midwest resident to do?

Look to the universe...provide she did. Dandelions! Of course. A peek at the buds verified loaded plants with tiny closed caper-like buds. Brine it, bottle it, fast forward a few weeks and dandelion capers are now all the rage at my house.

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The recipe is super simple. All you need is a brine solution and pour er' on over the capers. A few weeks marination time in the fridge and whamo. Delicious condiment and thrifty foraging find to go on eggs, pasta, 12 hour long roasted pork shoulders. The list is quite honestly endless.

No more need to curse the next spring when your first crop of dandies start carpeting your beautiful emerald lawn into a brilliant polka dot quilt of canary yellows. If the dandie is going to be opportunistic and take over your lawn. Return the favor and make the dandelion work for you! No your lawn might not be the most weed free on the block but it damn well be home to one of the tastiest condiments in your hood.

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Dandelion Capers

Makes 2 1/2 pints

  • 1 1/2 cups dandelion buds cleaned of dirt
  • 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cups water
  • black peppercorns

1. Remove the dirt and debris from the dandelions and rinse and drain them in a colander. Take 2 clean and sterilized 1/2 pint sized mason jar and pack the dandelions in leaving approximately 1/2 inch head space from the rim. Set aside.

2. Take a medium saucepan and combine the vinegar, water and salt. Place the pan over medium hight heat and dissolve salt while brining the liquid to a boil. Once to a boil remove from heat and add a few peppercorns

3. Have sterilized lids and rings ready for your mason jars. Carefully pour the liquid over the dandelions.

4. Wipe the rims and place the lids and rims on the dandies. Allow them to cool and place in the fridge for 3-4 weeks. The dandelion buds will keep at least 6 months in the fridge.