Burdock is any of a group of biennial thistles. You can use either Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa) or Lesser Burdock (Arctium minus). The Leaves are Large, coarse and ovate, with lower ones being heart-shaped and woolly underneath. Dark green the leaves can grow around 70cm. The leafstalks are generally hollow. Flower from July through to October. The prickly burr heads easily catch on to fur and clothing. The plant can grow over a metre in height.
The taproots are brownish-green, or nearly black on the outside. The taproot of young burdock plants can be harvested and eaten as a root vegetable. They can grow about 1 metre long and 2 cm across. The root has a sweet taste, as do the leaves, which are used less often. With a little muddy harshness the roots can be reduced by soaking julienned or shredded roots in water for five to ten minutes. Immature flower stalks can be harvested in late spring, before flowers appear; their taste resembles that of artichoke. Dried leaves can be made into a root tea. When harvesting burdock root, make sure that you gather it only from first year burdock. Second year burdock is past its edibility prime.
Burdock root's harshness harmonizes well with pork. Dandelion and burdock is today a soft drink that has long been popular in the United Kingdom, which has its origins in hedgerow mead commonly drunk in the medieval period. In Parts of the U.S. the stalks are peeled, scrubbed, boiled in salt water, and fried in an egg and breadcrumb batter. Burdock roots are a great addition to a stir fry. Wildly known as Gobo in Japan, Burdock is used in a variety of Eastern dishes.
Burdock contains articiin, biotin, copper, essential oils, inulin, iron, manganese, sulfur, tannins, zinc, as well as vitamins B1, B6, B12 and E. It contains a fair amount of dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, amino acids, and is low in calories. It also contains polyphenols. Burdock should not be taken during pregnancy or lactation because the root interferes with iron absorption.
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