Burdock is a biennial plant, and knowing which year plant is in is necessary before you attempt to dig and harvest the roots. From the second year's growth, we gather the flower stalk, which is delicious peeled and boiled, tasting like artichokes. By mid-June, you can tell how old your burdock plant is, because that is when the flower stalk will bolt up from the center of the basal rosette. We dig the roots from the first year's plant, since they are less woody and stringy. The roots can be dug in spring, summer, or fall, but you'll get the biggest roots in the fall. Digging in sandy or rocky soil is easier, as is digging after it rains, because burdock roots are long and tough. Often you'll only get part of the root broken off, and that's fine to use for cooking or pickling. We have 2 burdocks in our area, great burdock (Articum lappa) and common burdock (Articum minus), both with edible roots. The Japanese consider burdock root a useful vegetable, and call it gobo. Here's a pickle recipe to make if you ever come across a big patch that was exceptionally easy to harvest, they're tart and make a nice addition to any pickle tray.
Burdock Root Pickles makes 1 quart jar
about 2 pounds burdock root, enough to fill a quart canning jar
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. water
3/4 c. rice wine vinegar
6 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp diced garlic
1 Tbsp diced ginger
1. Peel the burdock root and cut it into uniform sticks. Boil the sticks in salted water for 5 minutes, until tender. Drain the sticks, then pack them tightly in a sanitized quart canning jar.
2. In another pot, add the soy sauce, water, rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, garlic and ginger. Bring the brine up to a boil for 2 minutes.
3. Pour the brine over the burdock sticks, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Add more brine if needed to cover the burdock. At this point, you can keep the pickles in the fridge and eat them in about 3 weeks. If you want to make them shelf stable, cap the jar with a canning lid and boil the jar for 20 minutes to seal. The pickles taste best after resting for at least 2 weeks, and will keep in the fridge once opened.
|Second year growth with flower stalk|