A few days ago I was perusing the vegetation at Mississippi Market and I ran into this:
Which immediately made me picture this weed in my boulevard:
The Mississippi Market display, above, combined with my uncanny deductive abilities led me to believe that the roots of burdock can be eaten. So, naturally, I’ve done some research and found that not only is burdock the plant that led to the invention of Velcro, but it has a long history of being eaten throughout the world, and is currently still popular in Asia (if you’ve ever seen “gobo” on your sushi, menu, that would be it!).
Burdock is a type of thistle and, as such, is related to the artichoke. Because it’s a biennial plant, the first year it builds up the root system and the second year it produces flowers and seed. It looks like the ideal time to harvest the roots is at the end of the first year, when the plant has built up the root system, although some say you can harvest the roots from when the plant is 2-4 months old to right before the flower stalks appear the second year. Prepared the root by scouring the dirt off the outside (not peeling, because this greatly reduces the nutritional value) and cooking it however you want: stir-fry, boil, roast, deep-fry. Some recommend par-boiling first to help with tenderness and reduce bitterness.
The immature flower stalks can be pealed and eaten raw or cooked, which apparently tastes like artichoke. I think that’s what I’ll be doing with this plant since it’s in its second year – and, yes, it has taken me that long to research it. Bite me.
Burdock has also been used medicinally for centuries for tons of hippie-stuff like supporting liver function to cleanse the blood, and it has largely overlapping medicinal value with curly dock, which I wrote about here.
Anyone out there have experience eating or using burdock? Tell me about it!