Earth Connection is a school of primitive skills and wilderness survival located in Northern Virginia and North Carolina (Raleigh/Durham area) that has been in existence for over a decade. Our hands-on classes are reasonably priced because we don't believe in big price tags for primitive skills. That's just not natural!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Velcro Weed... Gobo... Call it good to eat!

Here is a plant we discussed briefly during our class but did not get to taste... Too bad! It is one of our favorites.

Common Burdock (Arctium minus)

Burdock has mildly sweet-tasting flesh with bitter leaves and sprouts. The exterior of the large, dark, woody-looking root belies the sweet, nutty, delicate, crunchy flesh within. Although its bark-like skin looks thick, it is actually tissue-paper-thin, able to be scraped away with a fingernail or light scrubbing. Burdock is a root commonly used in Japanese dishes. Gobo is the Japanese word for burdock, which is considered an intensely "yang" vegetable. One of the characteristics of yang is heat generation. For the Iroquois, burdock was an important winter food. They dug it in the fall, dried it, and then ate it throughout the long cold months of winter.

Good pictures of stages of growth except for the root.

Also check out our "Useful Resources" Link to the left for more pictures

You can harvest the large, deep, beige taproot from the basal rosette form (as soon as the flowerstalk appears, the root becomes tough and woody) from early spring to late fall. Its hearty flavor is a little like that of potatoes, although it’s related to artichokes. Scrub the root with a coarse scouring pad, but don’t peel it. Slice it razor-thin on a diagonal.

Simmer 20 minutes or until tender. You may also sauté it, but add liquid and cook it in moist heat another 10 minutes afterwards, or it may not get tender.

You may also harvest the immature flower stalk in late spring, before the flowers appear, while it’s still tender and very flexible. Peeled and parboiled for 1 minute to get rid of the bitterness, it tastes like artichoke hearts, and it will enhance any traditional recipe that calls for the heart of artichokes. Cook this another 5-10 minutes.

Young leaves can also be boiled in two or so changes of water to remove the bitterness.

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