Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Eat the Yard: Harvesting, Cooking and Eating Burdock

I've always been under the impression that burdock, while often derided as a weed, was a tasty wild edible. One challenge with testing this claim is that accessing burdock's taproot takes effort, so it isn't something I've been able to casually try.

Fortunately, a few burdock plants popped up in the corner of our backyard. While many would have be annoyed at their giant leafy presence, I was overjoyed. Today, I decided to harvest one of the plants and take that overdue taste test.

The harvesting process, as promised, was reletively tedious. Eventually I was victorious, extracting a big 'ol alien looking chunk of root. A took a nibble of my bounty on the spot and found it tasted sort of like horseradish root, minus any heat. It wasn't bitter or off-putting, just bland and chewy.

Following this recipe, I sliced up the taproot and covered it with a healthy dose of olive oil, salt and pepper. I then put it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350°F. Every 10 minutes I gave it a shake.

After the pieces of root cooled a bit, I noshed on a few slices. It was, drum roll... OK. I suppose it was like any startchy vegetable, basically neutral tasting. I took the advice here and cooked the burdock with the skin on. I'm not sure if that helped or hurt. As I tried a few more pieces, some of them tasted pretty good: they were nicely seasoned and relatively tender. But other pieces of the root remained chewy and fibrous. Maybe I should have peeled the root? Or maybe cooking needed more cook time?

So, does burdock live up to its reputation as being a delicious wild edible? Maybe. Properly seasoned and cooked, it may be perfectly tasty. But with my first attempt I didn't crack this puzzle and ended up with something mostly fibrous and chewy. I've got another plant growing in back, so maybe a second go-around will be more successful than my first.

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