There are five plants that can be found virtually anywhere on our planet, except deserts and tropical areas. (sorry!) that everyone (or at the very
least the survivalists) should know how to use. If you are in the bush trying to survive the last thing you want to be doing is trying to identify a
plant "someone" told you was edible... but your not sure which part of it is, if it tasted good or if it even has nutritional value. (some edibles,
like acorns, will make you thirsty which is not good if your running low on water.) These plants will be of no surprise to you since they are as
common as the dirt they grow in. Hopefully you'll see them in a whole new light now!
I am going to focus mainly on how to use and cook them in a survival, backpacking and bug out situation. Mostly because these vitamins and nutrients
can keep you alive and add a variety to wild meat and fish from hunting. I'm going to talk in simple terms for ease of use.
I'm going to do a plant at a time for now, just in case no one here is interested...would be a whole lot of typing for nothing otherwise.
Let's start with....
You're not going to find Burdock in a forest with a tall canopy so you'll have to venture to a sunny spot with rich soil and some rocks. They really
like rocks and small hills/slopes. If you're in the city find a vacant, run down lot. It'll be there. If it's rediculously rocky soil than pass by,
you'll never get the root (trust me) and the root is very important.
Root- It's a pain in the butt to dig up, it's really deep, probably 2-3 feet. Don't break it because it'll lose it's nutritional value and is a waste
of a meal. It'll take awhile so get comfortable and go slow. If you have a hand trowel use it, but I dig them fine combining my knife, stick, sharp
rock and gloved hands. Never use a shovel. Start digging 10" away from the base of the plant, roots tend to grow sideways and you'll want to figure
out which way that is.
Always dig the root of the first year plants. When you hear people say that about Burdock it basically means "don't dig the root of the plant that has
the tall, 3ft stalk with purple flowers or seeds with tapering leaf sizes" That root will be shrivled up and rotten. Dig the plant next to it (they
always grow close to each other) with just the leaves- no stalk, no flowers, no seeds. It'll be more compact and look like rhubarb. This root is good.
Dig this one and not the one above
In the spring the small shoots with leaves are delicious. Collect the ones as small as your hand. You can eat the stems raw while traveling but I
prefer to save the spring stems with leaves for the end of the day and boil (with or without) other greens you collected. They are a bit bitter but
many love it this way.
In the summer and fall those tender young leaves will be gone and the tall stalks with the flowers, seeds and tapering leaves(the ones you don't eat
the roots of) will have grown to take their place. Try to catch them while they are emerging and leaves are still unfolding. That's when they taste
wonderful.Strip the stalk of everything including it's skin. Eat raw, salted, but best if soaked and boiled. (photo below)
Obviously your going to want to wash all the leaves and stems and scrub the dirt of the roots. Don't remove the dirt from the root until right before
you cook it, they shrivel fast otherwise.
This photo beow is a perfect example of your spring harvested Burdock root, very tender and those are the young spring leaves to eat as well. These
are small roots, mostly because the soil they grew in was very, very wet but prime examples.
Right before you cook it chop it up.
The basic cooking method for all parts of the Burdock is the same when not added to a recipe. To cook the roots, the flower stems (stripped of their
skin as I said above), or the washed young leaves, place whatever part you are using in a pot.
If you have salt add some, boil and then remove the greens or root from the pot. This is important in a survival situation (not so much at home)-- you
want to SAVE that liquid, which by this point will be a deep, dark green and you want to drink it. It's good for you.
Then you'll need to cover with fresh water again and boil until the vegetable is tender. Leaves will be done in a few minutes; stems or roots will
take longer, up to 15 or 20 minutes. Again, in a survival situation, drink the water.
In the winter you can sprout the Burdock seeds. Soak overnight, drain and sprout them. It has a bitter twang.
You can chop and dry the root and add to soups, stews, rice and beans.
The huge Burdock leaves are so, so helpful when you are cooking game and fish and potatoes over the campfire. They are natures aluminum foil.
And last but not least, good ole breakdown of nutritional value...had to look this one up for you.
Protein 2.6 g
Water 94.6 g
Ash 1.2 g
Total Calories 110
Calories From Carbohydrates 101
Calories from Fat 1.5
Calories from Protein 7.3
Total Carbohydrates 26.4 g
Dietary Fiber 2.2 g
Sugars 4.4 g
Fats and Fatty Acids Amount
Total Fat 0.2 g
Vitamin A 0.0 I.U.
Vitamin C 3.3mg
Vitamin E (alpha-Tocopherol) 0.6 mg
Vitamin K 2.5 mcg
Niacin 0.4 mg
Vitamin B6 0.3 mg
Folate 25.0 mcg
Pantothenic Acid 0.4 mg
Betaine 0.2 mg
Calcium 61.2 mg
Iron 1.0 mg
Magnesium 48.8 mg
Phosphorus 116 mg
Potassium 450 mg
Zinc 0.5 mg
Copper 0.1 mg
Manganese 0.3 mg
Selenium 7.0 mcg
Of course, Burdock is widely used as medicine as well... I mean, the kind of medicine you make yourself. That's for another time....yes, there is more
from this wonderful plant. Now do you see why it's so important????
Every summer I teach a hands on wild edible class which is part of a larger survival course here in NE. People always tell me how overwhelmed they
are by the vast amount of information they read on the web and in books. Not knowing where to start they will usually just give up all together. When
I teach classes I stick with the 5 basic wild plants/weeds with optimal nutrition, medicinal value and avalibility. What's the point of learning about
plants like Ginko if it only grows in China, you know? All of this information is based on experience and I use these plants on a daily to monthly
basis for the past 16 years.
If anyone wants to know other ways I intergrate them in my daily cooking, how I make tinctures, infusions and medicine with them at the homestead I
can share that too.
Hope this was useful to someone!
I'll add more if there is interest.
edit on 15-11-2011 by moondancer811 because: (no reason given)
edit on 15-11-2011 by moondancer811 because: (no reason
edit on 16-11-2011 by moondancer811 because: typo