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.