Burdocks are from Eurasia and have now been naturalized throughout America. The Great Burdock (Arctium lappa) is a huge weed growing 2-3 meters in height, while the the much more widespread Common Burdock (Arctium minus) is the one most commonly encountered. All burdocks are biennial, growing only a set of leaves the first year. The second year the produce a flowering stalk which fruits. In late summer into autumn, the fruit, called burrs, ripens and turns brown. They stick to the clothing and fur of passing people and animals and attempts to remove them scatters their seeds. After producing seeds, the plant dies. The burrs stick to hosts when both green and brown.
Burdock is said to be a gentle laxative. Its roots are used as an herbal cure for rheumatism, gout and certain lung conditions. As a topical extertal applicant, it is said to relieve sores and swellings. A tincture made from its seeds is supposed to cure psoriasis. In Japan, it is considered an aphrodisiac. The stems are considered a vegatable and peeled, boiled and eaten. Burdock ale can be made from the roots, tea and wine can be made from the leaves and burrs.
- 1/2 lb of second-year green leaves and burrs
- 2 lbs brown sugar (earlier recipe called for 4 lbs brown sugar1)
- water to 1 gallon
- 1 large or 2 small lemons (juice only)
- 1 tsp yeast nutrient
- 1 crushed Campden Tablet
- 1 pkt Tokay wine yeast
Gather green leaves and green burrs in a plastic pail. Wash to remove insects, dirt and dead organic matter and add burdock and brown sugar to primary. Put water on to boil. Meanwhile, make zest from lemon(s) and extract juice, discarding pith, pulp and seeds. Pour boiling water over burdock and brown sugar in primary, stirring well to dissolve sugar. Cover primary and set aside to cool. Add remaining ingredients except yeast, cover and set aside for 12 hours. Add activated yeast and recover primary. Stir daily until vigorous fermentation subsidesm (about 5-7 days), then strain liquid into secondary and fit airlock, discarding burdock and zest. Ferment to dryness, racking once or twice as required, and then stabilize and bulk age 6 months, checking airlock from time to time to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Rack, sweeten if desired and bottle. [Author’s own recipe]