Foraging for dandelion and burdock

Learn how to make the most of Mother Nature, as forager Fraser Christian shares his expert knowledge...

Foraging for dandelion and burdock

As heavy dew lays on early morning meadows, the flowering plants – such as dandelion and burdock – will start to whither and fade, and as they do so their energy is taken back to the roots and here is what we are after...

What you're looking for
The root of the burdock is much prized by Chinese and Japanese cultures and sometimes simply served fried. When burdock is combined with dandelion, it makes both a refreshing and cleansing drink, a powerful diuretic that can help cleanse the liver. It also benefits the skin and the complexion, and is even reputed to check against hair loss!

What you can do with it
The energy of these plants is not only beneficial medicinally, but can be used in many forms, from making a coffee substitute using dandelion roots, to the more commonly known dandelion and burdock drink.

Where you'll find it
Dandelion and burdock can be found growing along hedge banks and around waste ground and gardens – both are unfortunately regarded as weeds.

How to forage it
It's best to harvest the roots when the plant has finished flowering and starts to die back, transferring most of its remaining energy into the roots. Use a good spade or fork, preferably after rainfall when the ground is soft. Always try to pick a spot as far away as possible from busy roads and heavily farmed land, to avoid residual traces of man-made contamination from carbon monoxide or pesticides.

How to identify it
Dandelion has a large yellow flower and feather-shaped leaves. When the flower dies back, the fluffy seed head can be blown to release the seeds on the wind. Burdock grows very large broad leaves that are slightly hairy underneath.

Wild Forage

Wild Forage organises wild food and foraging courses along the seashore and in the countryside. Courses are run for small groups anywhere in the UK, plus individual courses in most southern counties. You can learn how to correctly identify and cook wild foods, as well as discover their medicinal and cosmetic qualities. For more info, visit www.wildforage.co.uk.

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