One of the most interesting things the Accidental Locavore ate on the recent Croatian trip was the dandelion buds that the chef at Toklarija had pickled. At first, they looked like capers and tasted a bit like them, but with a more interesting, complex flavor. As we toured the kitchen, he told me how he makes them.
As it turns out, when I got back it was just the right time to look for the buds (and there were plenty!). They’re generally in the center of the plant, although some may have multiple buds. You want them small and tight, otherwise they’ll come apart in the pickling process. I picked about a cup of them over the course of several dog walks. Here’s the process:
- Rinse and dry the buds
- In a shallow container, put a generous layer of kosher salt. Add the buds and cover completely with another layer of salt. Leave them for 2 days.
- After 2 days, put the buds and salt in a sieve and rinse throughly.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, put ½ cup white vinegar, ½ cup water, and ½ cup kosher salt. Heat until the salt is dissolved and the brine is simmering.
- Put washed buds in a small jar (I used a 1 pint Ball jar) and pour the hot brine over them until the jar is almost full (leave about 1” of space). Cover and let cool.
- When the jar is cool, refrigerate. They’ll need a day or two to pickle.
- Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Really good! Added bonus—possibly the yard will have a few less dandelions next year. It may be too late in the season to find buds, but as I was researching this, I learned that you can do this with a variety of buds, including chives and nasturtiums. As it turned out, my chives were just beginning to bud, so I clipped a few and added them to the jar. Where the dandelion buds were just slightly bitter, the chive buds had a hint of onion to them. Give it a try and let me know what you think.