May 18 2008
Although the Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa) has a quite extensive range both in Norway and most of Europe in general, it seems absent in the area I grew up. Because of that I have never tasted this wild root before. In the upper temperate/subarctic zones, such big, edible roots are only found on a very few species. It’s easily recognised by it’s large leaves.
The plant is biennial. I dug up two roots, one was obviously from last year and one seemed like it had grown from a seed this spring. This rather big one, held by my 3 year old daughter is probably on it’s second year. It was quite hard to dig up, dispite nice loamy soil because of a large number of rocks.
The way I do it with such roots is that I skin off the outer layer, I know a lot of people scrape them and wash them, but I don’t think it’s worth the hassle. And with a few species, like Cow Parsley the bitter taste is found in the outer layer and removing it will make it good (but bland) with only one cooking instead of several. Whether this is also true of burdock I can not tell, since I haven’t tried anything else than removing the outer shell.
Young roots seems quite pleasant to eat raw and has a nice texture not unlike bamboo shoots. The older root was almost like wood and I fried it in a little oil first and then cooked it in soy for a short while. This made achieve the bamboo shoot texture and it became rather good eating. I added it to some ready made pastasauce.
The plant is medicinal (blood purifying and a number of other things) and should not be eaten in excess. Pregnant women, not at all.