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Edible Burdock Root Recipe

Burdock (Arctium) root is a tasty addition to a stir fry. You can use either Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa) or Lesser Burdock (Arctium minus).

IMPORTANT: When harvesting burdock root, make sure that you gather it only from first year burdock. Second year burdock is past its edibility prime and is not recommended as a food stuff.

Also make sure when collecting Burdock that you harvest from an area that is flush with the plant. Never completely harvest the whole patch, always leave some plants to continue to grow. Remember this isn’t strip-mining it’s sustainable food gathering.

Step 1

First off, find a nice patch of burdock.

Step 2

Reach down into the stems and push the foliage aside.

Step 3

As you can see the stems are very visible.

Step 4

Dig straight down uncovering the root as you go. The root can be very long, so take care not to dig in your spade and chop off the root before you have got to the bottom of it.

Step 5

Take enough plants to last you a mean. In the picture above, I harvested enough burdock for a stir fry and to make a herbal decoction (medicine).

Step 6

In your kitchen, clean and trim the burdock roots.

Step 7

Now peel the skin off just like you would a carrot.

Step 8

Place peeled burdock roots into a bowl of water with a cap full of cider vinegar. This prevents the root from discolouring.

Step 9

When ready to cook, slice the root into matchstick pieces, along with some carrot. Amounts will vary depending on how many people you are feeding. I use the same amount of burdock root as I do carrot for each person.

Step 10

Fry the burdock root and carrot in a heavy frying pan or wok. Add a small amount of Tamari or Soya Sauce, and continue stir frying your dish. Mine took between 5 to 7 minutes until it was ready.

Step 11

What I like is for the dish to slightly caramelise, but play with the recipe.

Burdock root is also nice peeled, sliced and eaten raw with a little sea salt. I find it reminds me of raw celeriac.

About the Author Robin Harford

Robin Harford is a self-taught ethnobotanist, and has spent over a decade traveling, researching, recording and uncovering the traditional and contemporary use of wild plants in Britain and beyond. More recently his work has taken him to Africa, India, SE Asia and Europe. He is a co-director of Plants & Healers International, a non-profit that connects people, plants and healers around the world.

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5 comments
Toxophilus says

Great pics, very helpful. Are the second year roots worthwhile gathering for medicinal purposes? Is there a way to determine the age of the plant? Thank you!

Reply
Robin Harford says

I don’t know about medicine making. First year the plant grows close to the ground in a rosette and has no stem. Also once burdock has produced a stem and burrs, then that is the second year.

Reply
Anne says

It says first year. How do you get it from year to year? I have a small patch for the first time, it just showed up. Are you saying I must use it all this year? How would I get a forever patch?

Reply
Kelly says

How can I tell if the burdock root is first generation. Where can I get this burdock root first generation . I get mine at a natural foods store and there is no information. My whole family died of cancer. It’s just me left and I am 47. I am trying to do all I can to be healthy. I have questions other questions can we chat because how they suffered scares me. Really
Kelly Ann Van Galen
Kaygalen@gmail.com
1-484-844-2418

Reply
    Robin Harford says

    Kelly – sorry to hear your family history, however you need to speak with a professional medical herbalist if you are concerned. First year burdock grows close to the ground, and doesn’t show a flower spike. Second year growth will have a skeleton, maybe with burs still on it so you’ll know that one is too old.

    Reply
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