Foraging for Burdock and Making Carduni

foraging for burdock

 

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!

 

Foraging for Burdock and Preparing Carduni - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

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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Foraging for Burdock and Preparing Carduni - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Eating Burdock

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. πŸ™‚


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).

 

Foraging for Burdock and Preparing Carduni - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

 

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.

Foraging for Burdock and Preparing Carduni - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Carduni

  • 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.

Foraging for Burdock and Preparing Carduni - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

 

Of course, you can eat the boiled stems without the batter and frying, but it might taste too ‘healthy’ for most people.Β This carduni recipe is another great way of using up some of your spring abundance of eggs!

 

Foraging for Burdock and Preparing Carduni - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

 

Watch out for the kitchen vultures. They should be circling by now!

 

Foraging for Burdock and Preparing Carduni - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

 

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.

 

Foraging for Burdock and Preparing Carduni - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

 

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.

 

Burdock, ready to freeze

Ready for the freezer

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
  • Chill
  • 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!

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38 comments on “Foraging for Burdock and Making Carduni

  1. Teri Iris ShadoWolfe Sorisso

    This was a favorite of mine growing up with my Italian Grandmother. At 68 I just realized what I thought was ‘murdock’ was burdock. She had an interesting way of pronouncing many things, heritage of an Immigrant. I thought she called this recipe
    ‘spotigy’ – again not sure exactly. I remember my grandfather bringing in the plants. I asked where he got them and he said from a field, growing wild. I asked if the people allowed him to take them — lol, he said they are wild. It was my favorite way to eat eggs and now I see how similar it is to vegetable egg foo young.

    Thanks so much for this article. I’ve been searching forever to remember this wonderful food from childhood.

    Plants are ‘weeds’ because we no longer know their value (barring poisonous of course). Vegetables, especially greens, are the only true alkalizing foods we have to combat the barrage of acidic foods — that induce ill health and feed cancer. FYI: simple carbs, sugars, meat, dairy, junk food and soda are ALL acidic and the body can’t handle it without alkalizing as well.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Hi Teri, Thank you for sharing your memories of your Grandparents! I always enjoy hearing about the experiences of my readers. πŸ™‚
      You are so correct about how unhealthy the ‘modern’ diet is. Wild foods are superfoods with so many antioxidants and nutrients that are missing from commercially grown, chemically treated ‘food’…thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you have a great year foraging for wild plants!

      Reply
  2. Istvan Lorincz

    Thank you Lisa for this great post.
    Here in Hokkaido, Japan, where I live since 12 years, burdock root is in every Japanese store in abundance.
    Cooked, prepared burdock too, But…
    mostly kimpira what is sweetened with sugar and mirin, what I as a Westerner cannot enjoy, so I try to prepare differently not sweet at all.
    Have no access to the other parts of the plant, no seeds available anywhere ( for some reason) only the root.
    But I’m thankful to have the root; today for the first time I made with carrots cut like kinpira but in virgin olive oil with chopped garlic, some paprika powder, simmering slowly till tender, it proved to be excellent.
    Will do regularly from now on.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Hi Istvan,
      Thanks for the info about burdock root in Japan. It seems that I have read that they have a different variety in Asia…I haven’t had the chance to try it. I’m glad that you are enjoying it!

      Reply
  3. Linda Colletti

    I’d like to know if the stalks can be frozen as is or should I boil them first and then freeze? I want to harvest now before they get too woody.
    Also a delicacy in our Sicilian family. Never made it to the table as we swarmed them as soon as they were done!
    Thanks for including this recipe….my grandma and aunts made it this way! I’m going to try to make for my 97 year old father who has been craving them.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Hi Linda,
      Funny you should ask, I was thinking about doing a post about freezing burdock.

      I blanch them until al dente, then freeze. Blanching kills enzymes that can make the veggies deteriorate in the freezer.

      Your Dad will be delighted! Thanks so much for stopping by and asking a great question. πŸ™‚

      (I think maybe I will just update this post with that info…not really enough for a whole post.)

      Reply
  4. Tom

    I have been eating this for 40 years or more. My grandfather fed it to me at least 40 years ago. He made it often, and later taught me to make it. I had no idea it was a recipe. I thought it was just “his thing” as I have never seen it shown before.
    Burdock petioles are delicious so many ways. I have them every morning, when in season, with some rice, quonia and barley, and an egg or 2. Delicious abundant food source.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Hi Tom,

      My Mother in Law made it without a recipe. I decided to write it down so I could share it. πŸ™‚

      I like them too! Thanks for sharing your memory.

      Reply
  5. Alli

    wow…….we have Burdock growing ALL over the place. The horse liked it before it flowered, the cows liked it before it flowered too. My goats like it too.
    As long as it doesn’t have the “sticker” seeds, its tolerable…..but man does it create great difficulty with horses mane’s & tails….oey

    A friend keeps telling me its edible……I’d just like to reduce some of the locations its in, drastically. It grows EVERYWHERE despite what the “experts” say (if you look up the plant). We have it growing through cracks in concrete. It gets no water in those locations, except from mother earth. Same w/it growing out in our pasture. And they do superbly πŸ™‚

    Reply
  6. janet pesaturo

    Wow, this is great! I just left a comment on one of your chicken posts and see you are also into foraging. We have a lot in common. I’ve been foraging for mostly berries and nuts, but am looking forward to spring, so I can expand my repertoire of edible wild greens. I knew burdock was edible, but have not tried it yet. Anyway, nice blog.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Janet,
      Thanks! I’m so glad you found my blog πŸ™‚ You will like burdock…just be sure to pick it while young and tender and parboil it to remove the bitterness. You can drink the resulting juice for detoxing your liver too. Not the tastiest stuff on the planet…but good for you! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  7. angischneider

    I don’t think we have burdock here. But I wonder how it would taste with Swiss chard. My 11yr old just walked by and exclaimed, “Woah, that looks good. What kind of meat is it?”

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Angie,
      I think that I saw that burdock doesn’t grow very far south, so you may be right. Lol! My son likes it and goes back for seconds, and thirds. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
    2. Tom

      We’ve made it with Swiss chard too – we call it “charduni” πŸ™‚
      It’s good. Pretty much any green leafy will work. It’s the batter that really makes the flavor.

      Reply
  8. littlemountainhaven

    oh my goodness and here I’ve been super happy using the leaves as mulch between the squash! I’ve eaten burdock root before but not the leaves, I’m intrigued and I will give this one a go!

    Reply
  9. Mindie

    That is so funny you wrote this as I was just talking to my grandmother who told me about how my Sicilian Great grandmother used to make gardoni! She had no idea “what” it was. I recently figured it out and have had my eye out when I take my boys foraging. She said my great grandmother would cut the stalks in half, season and cover with parm and it was yummy. I am hopping we locate some soon because I really want to give it a try.

    Mindie ~ The “Born Again” Farm Girl

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      That’s too funny, Mindy! I hope you find some soon! I love it in this recipe. πŸ™‚ It often grows along pathways, edge of the woods, or all over my garden. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  10. Beth P

    Hmmm, I guess I shouldn’t of had that part of my new garden back hoed last fall… that’s where all the burdock was! The broth from burdock, let’s just say it’s an acquired taste! LOL!
    Hugs,
    Beth P

    Reply
  11. Rachel E.

    I’m always interested in new ways to use what’s on the land around me. I just am not sure what I am looking at half the time. For example: Nettle. I have this stuff that looks just like it, but I just don’t know for sure. So, I just leave it.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Rachel,
      Maybe you could pick up a plant id book to help you determine what’s what. I’ve had some things that I wasn’t sure about…so I leave it, or get my book if it’s around.

      Reply
  12. Jennifer

    My dad raised us foraging on weekends with his trusty ‘Peterson Guides’. Brush my teeth with birch phloem? So many times. While I remember most of what he taught us but I also remember that recipes were far and few between! I’ll be looking forward to making this for him, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      That’s great Jennifer! It’s nice to have instructions for cooking…the guides have to be concise so you can bring it along on your foraging trips. πŸ™‚ Does anyone have suggestions for a good foraging cookbook?

      Reply
  13. Tom

    It’s best harvested in mid-to-late May – that’s when the stems are still tender. Growing up in an Italian-American family, I’ve had my share of garduni, and Lisa’s recipe is really good! For authenticity, use Italian-style bread crumbs and cook it in olive oil.

    Reply
  14. Meredith/GreenCircleGrove

    I’ve never eaten burdock, but I’ve cut down enough of it to know exactly what it looks like. I usually just add stems and leaves to the compost pile–and try to get rid of it before it gets very old. I’ll try carduni this week–with those extra eggs. Thanks for this excellent post!

    Reply
  15. Carol J. Alexander

    Great idea, Lisa. We make a similar dish using zucchini. I’ve never eaten burdock, but I use it for burn and wound care. It goes into my homemade wound salve and we use it, blanched, as a covering for the wound.

    Reply

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