, , ,


One of the most interesting and frustrating things about foraging is that moment when you “discover” a plant.  I’ve been trying to locate burdock for a couple years now.  It’s just one that I think I should be able to identify and yet couldn’t find it.  Then last week, in one of my gardening groups, a woman asked about her rhubarb.  The response was that it wasn’t rhubarb but burdock.

The light bulb went off.  I had a memory of a rhubarb plant I had nurtured at one house we lived in.  All those years, I nurtured a burdock plant and had no idea.  I am a great gardener so how was I to know it wasn’t rhubarb.

That’s where the frustration comes in.  It’s that feeling that you are the world’s biggest idiot and everyone must know it.  It happens to me a lot.

But then there’s the other side of the coin, I found a plant.  I know what to do with that plant.  Burdock is highly edible.  I have just put in my “pocket” another chance of survival if it came to it.

Not only is burdock edible but it’s medicinal.  I don’t remember all the details but I know enough that this is a plant I want.  Once I get to eating and using it, then those details become memories that I can share and be confident that I understand the plant.

Because I couldn’t remember what one does with burdock, I plucked a few leaves.  I try to keep a leaf or other part of each plant to add to my foraging book.  The rest, I took home to sample as food.

Before eating a plant, I like to double check my information.  Is the plant edible raw or must it be cooked?  This is where it’s important to take the time to verify because I don’t want to be sick or make my family sick.

Burdock is bitter.  In fact, I checked at Eat the Weeds.  I love what he had to say “young leaves can be eaten but you have to like bitter foods”.  He is right.  Let me reiterate – burdock is bitter.  My husband could barely eat the bite I had given him.  Strangely enough, I liked it.

Bitter foods are really good for us.  They stimulate digestion.  My husband has issues with his gallbladder and his current treatment is a glass of digestive bitters.  Bitter foods encourage bile development.  I have a perfectly healthy gallbladder but I really should stop bragging because I know that I’m going to be humbled if I don’t.

I’ll be eating burdock leaves again but our next task is to find a plant we can pull up to try the root.  I’m not one who usually likes to dig up roots of plants especially since I can often purchase them with less headache but I found a recipe for deep fried fresh burdock root that I am excited to try.