Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa) and Lesser Burdock (Arctium minor) can be used in the same ways. The key difference is that the Lesser Burdock is generally smaller.
Leaves The leaves are extremely bitter and I would be impressed to learn that somebody eats them. They are, however, very useful for stimulating digestion and for that reason are used by herbalists worldwide. The long stalks of the leaves can be eaten, because once peeled and chopped their bitterness is considerably lessened.
Early spring leaves, at their best for harvest
Stems (pictured at top of page) Sublime vegetables.
The stems need peeling. This is very simple and can be done using your fingers or a small paring knife. The plant fibers in the skin are very tough and hold together well allowing it to peel roughly like a banana. It will need a little work to get all of the skin off. Not only is the skin fibrous but it is rather bitter. I recommend tasting the skin just so you know explicitly that it could ruin your meal if it gets in there somehow.
What you peel from the stem can be used to make a powerful digestive tea. The bitter flavors are extremely health-giving but they are also hard to swallow. If you make kombucha, the peelings work really well in place of black tea, giving a grapefruit-like bitterness to the resulting kombucha.
The peeled stems can be eaten raw, marinated or cooked. If you don’t eat all of the core of the stem as you are peeling it (it's really delicious) then chop it and use it as a crudite to dip into hummus or another dip. To cook, I suggest blanching lightly for no more than 3 minutes and dressing with some Asian flavors like soy sauce and sesame oil.
The stem of this plant is prime for eating
A stem entering the flowering stage, way past the point of eating
The core of the roots can be used as a starchy vegetable if steamed for about 10 minutes. To get to the core, the fibrous outer layer should be removed, revealing the tender inner. The outer core can be dried and powdered for use as a flavoring. The roots have a delicious earthy, artichoke, licorice-like flavor so typical of burdock.
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