Burdock is also known by its other name Articum and it’s a genus of a biennial plant. It’s native to Europe and Asia but is now used all over the world. It has many applications in traditional Asian medicine but is now mostly used in foods and drinks.
Its numerous health benefits have been discovered in the 20th century and that’s when it became a more common part of the cuisine for those who care about the health benefits of their diet. It’s also added to some beers for flavor.
- In the 1940s, George de Mestral, a Swiss inventor, became curious about the burdock seeds when they attached themselves to his clothes and his dog’s fur as they were out walking. Under a microscope, he noted the hook-and-loop system that the seeds use to hitchhike on passing animals and aiding in seed dispersal. He realized that the same approach could be used to join other things together, resulting in the creation of Velcro.
- The root is used to purify the blood in traditional medicine
For the most part you’ll be buying a dried root of the plant meaning that you can’t do that much shopping on your own, and what you see is what you get. However, it’s useful to inquire about the techniques used to plant and grow it, since you want the plant to be grown organically.
Production & Farming in Texas
Burdock is an easy plant to cultivate and that’s part of the reason why it found its way to pretty much every cuisine in every part of the world. In Texas it can be grown in ordinary home gardens as long as it’s planted at the right time. It’s best to do it in early spring.
The plant can grow in most soils but it prefers moist and rich soils and lots of sunlight to produce the best results. Luckily this can be accomplished in both Northern and West Texas and that’s where most of it is grown both commercially and for personal use.
The key is to having good results with is to put the plants apart enough so that they can grow and expand both under and above grounds. It’s best to do that by leaving six inches between each plant. At first that seems like a waste of space but it works out.
Many local farmers have also found natural ways to enrich and improve the soil and thus the burdock plant itself. They mix wood chips and sawdust into burdock beds to keep the soil loose, so the roots are easier to harvest and it’s given good results so far.
The growth of burdock is control both using physical and chemical methods. Chemical ones include using pesticides such as glyphosate (non-selective herbicide), clopyralid, clopyralid + triclopyr, 2,4-D, aminopyralid, and picloram.
The plant originates from Europe and Asia but it’s now naturalized throughout the world. In the US it was considered to be a weed because it mostly hindered the growth of the plants that the US farmers actually used and sold.
Most of the uses in both the US and in Europe focus on the roots as they are a part of the folk medicine and even in the 19th century British botanist where aware of it and how it can be useful. The documents showed that it was known that it cures ulcers, rheumatism and in all disease of the skin.
The leafs of the plants are also useful even though overlooked throughout history, at least in the west. They could pretty much be used in all the areas the roots are.
Burdock roots are mostly dried grounded and sold in neat packages. These are wrapped in plastic packages such as zip bags. They are sold based on their weight and are mostly bought in bulk in order to be used for a longer period of time.
You could also purchase leafs with the local farmer’s markets and they are just sold as they are or tied with a string. These are a bit more difficult to find, and they are mostly popular in the Chinese community.
Burdock is edible in its entirety. That means that you can use the roots, the steams, and the leafs are all useable in your diet. Roots are used to prepare tea or a spice, and the leafs are mostly used as a food wrap so they can be a part of making tacos or similar to go food.
They are also a bit more bitter than you might have expected them to and they get more bitter as they are older, so try to use the leafs while they are small.
The simplest way to store burdock is to wrap it in paper towel and to seal it in a plastic bag. You can then store the bag in the cold part of the fridge but make sure to replace the towel every couple of days because it will get wet over time and rot faster.
When the root becomes limp you can get it back to shape by putting it in water.
The recipes you can use depend on which part of the plant you’re using (and you can use all of it). Stalks could be used in noodles. Start by peeling them and letting them simmer in water for about 20 minutes until it becomes tender.
They taste like artichokes and they the meal is the most similar to zucchini noodles. A great thing about them is that they can be appetizers or a main course depending on the portions and what you add to them.
Burdock roots, young shoots, peeled stalks, and dried seeds carry numerous compounds that are known to have been anti-oxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
Burdock is a good source of non-starch polysaccharides such as inulin, glucoside-Lappin, mucilage, etc., that help act as a laxative. Additionally, inulin acts as prebiotic and helps reduce body weight, and the blood sugar and cholesterol levels in the blood.
Burdock root is especially containing proper amounts of electrolyte potassium (308 mg or 6.5% of daily required levels per 100 g root) and low in sodium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
This herb root contains small quantities of many vital vitamins, including folic acid, riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin, vitamin-E, and vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health. Both vitamin C and E are powerful natural antioxidants help the human body stave off infections, cancer, and neurologic conditions.
When Are Burdock in Season in Texas?
To find out when Burdock are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.