Deep Roots: Pickled Burdock
Pickle one of the most nourishing herbs on the planet.
Burdock (Arctium sp) is one of the most nourishing herbs on the planet. It’s long tap root reaches deep into the soil and pulls up minerals, storing them in it’s roots. These burdock pickles jar nutrients are then rendered bio available to our bodies once we ingest them. Western herbalists consider burdock to be a blood “cleanser” and I like to be more clear in that it nourishes the liver, which supports our bodies with elimination. Burdock also nourishes the blood, it does not deplete as the wording “cleanser” insinuates. It actually, deeply nourishes and replenishes while also assisting the liver in functioning more effectively. In doing this burdock is known for it’s ability to clear skin conditions, from eczema to acne. So you can see that ingesting these pickles can nourish the body in very deep and long lasting ways.
As for harvesting, we harvest burdock root in the late fall, just before the ground freezes. The roots contain the most nutrients, at that time, as the plant has stored them for it’s own winter nourishment. You can also purchase burdock root in asian grocery stores as well as health food stores. Burdock is a biennial (a plant with a two year life cycle) and like many plants with a two year life cycle, the root is harvested in the fall of the first year. When harvested at this time of the year the root is a tender vegetable. In Japan burdock is known as gobo and is considered a staple vegetable. When prepared properly it is tender and delicious. I love to pickle the roots and to eat them as part of my daily nourishment, particularly during the winter months. I learned to make these pickles from one of my first herb teachers, Eaglesong Gardner. I am ever grateful, as many years later we still make these with our own twists to the recipe. I like to make one or two gallons which will last through the winter months.
Making Burdock Pickles
Burdock contains inulin, which is a prebiotic substance, also beneficial to the digestive system! So these pickles are not only delicious, but very nutritious.
Slice burdock roots. Can be in strips or coins, but whichever style you choose it is ideal to slice them evenly burdock pickles slicing
Place sliced roots in a steaming basket and into a pot. Add a small amount of water to the bottom. Steam for 5-10 minutes burdock pickles steaming
While the roots are steaming slice a small amount of garlic and ginger. Wild leeks, wild ginger and turmeric can be added as well. Place garlic and ginger in a proper size jar for the amount of root that you have. I use quarts or 1/2 gallons.
Prepare the brine. The brine consists of: 1 part cider vinegar (I like to use raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar), 1 part tamari or shoyu (both fermented soy products), 1 part steamed burdock water.
When roots are steamed, pack into jars. Once roots cool down, pour the brine over them. I like to have everything cool, so that the beneficial bacteria in the vinegar and the tamari renders these a fermented food product, beneficial to the digestive system.
I like to leave these on the counter for a day or two, until the flavors meld. Then I place them in the refrigerator. They can be stored there indefinitely.
We like to nourish our bodies by eating a couple of pickles a day. We hope you enjoy these as much as we do!