Foraging for Burdock & Making Carduni
Burdock (Arctium lappa) grows wild all over much of North America and it’s a fairly easy plant to identify. (Make sure you take a reliable guide with you when foraging for wild plants.) In addition to being quite common, the stems are very tasty when prepared!
Why Eat Weeds?
Many of our common lawn weeds are actually edible and chock full of vitamins and minerals. Make sure you have positively identified your plant material before you nibble on it! I started foraging for wild edibles when I was a kid. Armed only with my Dad’s survival manual and a bag, I’d head out into the woods, fields, or our lawn to gather anything edible I could find. I loved the sense of self reliance that came from harvesting wild edibles.
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Imagine my surprise when my in-laws introduced me to carduni (spelled in various ways…gardoni and cardune are also common), an Italian delicacy made from the young, tender stalks of the common burdock plant (Arctium species). If only I had known how good these were when I was a kid…my parents would have had a weed free yard. 🙂
The roots, young leaves and stalks are all edible and tasty when prepared in carduni. Okay, I haven’t actually used the leaves. My field guide to edible plants lists them as edible but the traditional recipe doesn’t call for them, and from what I have read the leaves are fairly bitter. (But I’ll probably try them anyway.)
For our recipe, you will want the young stalks. Be sure to collect your plant material from clean plants in an area without dogs, lawn chemicals, or pollution to taint it. (Another good reason not to use pesticides on your lawn).
Cut young stems at the base with a sharp knife and remove the leaves. (You can try cooking up the leaves and using them in your carduni, if you like). When you have enough, wash the stalks thoroughly and chop into small chunks. Put into a pot of water with a sprinkle of salt and bring to a boil. Pour off this water and fill with fresh water to cover the stems. Bring to a boil again and cook until tender. Drain and rinse to cool. Now you are ready to make carduni!
Note: I am no longer pouring off the water from the first boiling, adding more and boiling again. Now I put water over the chopped stalks, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook until tender. I pour off this water and use the cooked stems in the following recipe.
Most sources say to peel the leaf stems before using. I haven’t found this to be necessary. I just wash them thoroughly before cooking.
- 4 cups cooked, cooled burdock stems
- 9 eggs
- 2 cups bread or cracker crumbs
- chopped green onion
- sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
- Seasonings (we use Italian seasoning, basil, salt, and pepper)
Beat eggs in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and seasonings and mix. Add eggs, chopped onions, and dry ingredients to cooked burdock and combine.
Drop this mixture by spoonfuls into a hot, oiled skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned on both sides. Drain off oil on paper towels.
Of course, you can eat the boiled stems without the batter and frying, but it might taste too ‘healthy’ for most people. This carduni recipe is another great way of using up some of your spring abundance of eggs!
Watch out for the kitchen vultures. They should be circling by now!
If you like, you can eat your carduni in a sandwich with a dab of hot sauce and a little cheese sprinkled over the top.
Drinking the cooking water from the burdock will supply quite a few vitamins and minerals to your diet. I’m not saying it tastes good, just that it’s good for you. If you were in a survival situation you would want to get all the nutrition you can from your food.
How to Freeze Burdock
Burdock is also easy to freeze for later. Just follow these steps and you can have Carduni in the winter too!
- Clean and chop burdock
- Cook to ‘al dente’ stage
- Pack in freezer bags
- Freeze and use in 1 year or less for best results
Nutritional Value of Burdock
Some of the reported beneficial properties of burdock are its use as a blood purifier, detox agent, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal treatment. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C and niacin, as well as chromium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper. Some research also suggests that burdock has compounds that combat cancer. For more info about the health benefits of burdock, check out this article.
*Caution! Do not eat any wild foods unless you are absolutely sure you have identified them correctly! The Self Sufficient HomeAcre is providing this information for your entertainment and assumes no liability for issues arising from consumption of misidentified plant material. Get a good plant identification book, or go foraging with an expert to make sure you stay safe!
Have you ever eaten carduni? Or does the thought of eating ‘weeds’ turn your stomach? Leave a comment!