Burdock Madness

Two years ago, I found some seeds in a tiny local Japanese market for burdock. I have cooked burdock for many years and find it is an interesting and delicious earthy root. I was first introduced to burdock as an ingredient in macrobiotic cooking over 20 years ago. A foreign idea at first, as I experimented with it, I found that its rich flavor is quite nourishing especially in the winter months. Ofer created a soup using grated burdock and carrots to make a broth. Add adding sesame oil at the end is the perfect finish! I’ve also found that it is lovely in stews made with butternut squash and in traditional Japanese sautes.

We innocently planted some seeds in the side yard hoping for a crop of fresh root and were disappointed when they didn’t sprout and grow. The following season, we tried again. This time, Ofer sprouted some in small pots and then transferred them to bigger pots and so on, until they were big enough to survive a transfer to the garden bed. This was definitely successful as we had numerous plants survive and grow to unprecedented heights!

 

What we didn’t know was that the burdock is bi-ennial. That means that it lives two years. To harvest the roots it has to be done in the fall of the first year. I found this out after they had started to bloom and were over 6 feet tall. The good news is, the flowers are quite beautiful and we still had some that were first year plants.

Where’s the root?

 

 

So we let the flowers finish blooming and took out the old plants. Now that its fall, we harvested the plants that were left. The roots are amazing, so deep and numerous. We haven’t had a chance to eat any yet, but the insides are a beautiful white color and they are crisp and fresh.

We’ve agreed that it is unnecessary to plant these seeds again. Between the seeds that dropped when the flowers went to seed, and the pieces of root that snapped off when we were taking out old plants, there are already new plants sprouting out of the soil.

Starting to dig

Still digging

Snapped off root

Sideways root

Burdock root revealed

Big burdock root

 


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