Taking Root – Week 6 of the 2015 Herb CS

In this week’s parcel, we have included:

Burdock Root, Gobo

Leeks

Fennel Bulb

Wild Bergamot

Honey Lemon Balm Jelly

So, “taking root” may be taking it a little too far. Technically the only true root is the Burdock, but you get the idea.

This week’s oddities are certainly off the regularly beaten path, but try it, you’ll like it.

And, if you happen to feel like sharing any awesome newfound recipes you have discovered or fun ways to use these herbs, let us know via the computron!


Burdock Root, Gobo

 Burdock, Gobo 1

Arctium lappa, commonly called greater burdock, gobō, edible burdock, lappa, or beggar’s buttons, is a Eurasian species of plants in the sunflower family, cultivated in gardens for its root used as a vegetable. The burdock root has a flavor that closely resembles jerusalem artichokes or parsnips, and features crispy texture with gummy consistency.

 On the outside, burdock root features dark brown “bark like” color and has woody texture. Inside it features crunchy, milky-white fibrous flesh, which may turn gray upon exposure to air. To avoid this while cutting, drop burdock slices/pieces/julienne into lemon water to prevent oxidation.

To prepare; wash the entire length of the taproot thoroughly in cold water and scrape off outer skin using a paring knife. Burdock root is tough and should be tenderized before its use in cooking. To soften, cook the root in 4 cups boiling water with a teaspoonful of baking soda.

It is said that George de Mestral, the Swiss inventor of Velcro, got the idea after examining the fruit of a burdock plant that had stuck to his dog’s fur.


Leeks

Leeks

Known scientifically as Allium porrum, Leeks are related to garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions. Leeks look like large scallions, having a very small bulb and a long white cylindrical stalk of superimposed layers that flows into green, tightly wrapped, flat leaves. Cultivated leeks are usually about 12 inches in length and one to two inches in diameter and feature a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of shallots but sweeter and more subtle. With a more delicate and sweeter flavor than onions, leeks add a subtle touch to recipes without overpowering the other flavors that are present. The flavonoids in leeks are most concentrated in their lower leaf and bulb portion.

Leeks have attained an esteemed status in Wales, where they serve as this country’s national emblem. The Welsh regard for leeks can be traced back to a battle that they successfully won against that Saxons in 1620, during which the Welsh soldiers placed leeks in their caps to differentiate themselves from their opponents.


Fennel Bulb

 Fennel Bulb

You’ve tried the frond, now’s time for the bulb! Either loved or despised – the strong aniseed flavor leaves no room for the middle ground. It’s also known as Florence fennel, finocchio, or sweet fennel, is very popular in Italian cookery, and has a bulb-like shape that looks a little like a heavy-bottomed celery. When eaten raw, the texture is crisp and the flavor is quite assertive. Cooked, it’s softer and mellower. To prepare fennel, wash, then trim off the green tops (they can be used as a garnish). Slice off the shoots and root and peel off the tougher outer layer (if the bulb is particularly young and tender you can leave this layer on). To cook it whole, cut out the tough central core from the bottom, leaving a cone-shaped cavity, or slice if you prefer. Alternatively, chop into quarters and remove the core from each one (but not too much, or the quarters will fall apart). Fresh cut fennel should be wrapped in damp kitchen paper, placed in a perforated bag and stored in the fridge. It will last for up to three days. To cook, cut into very thin slices for salads (a mandolin is good for this). Boil or steam (up to 20 minutes for a whole head, or up to 12 minutes for wedges). Roast (40-50 minutes).

An old proverb of ours, which is still believed in New England, says, that “Sowing Fennel is sowing sorrow.”


Wild Bergamot

Wild Bergamot 2

Also known as Monarda, native to the North Eastern United States and Canada, the entire plant above ground is edible and may be used in salads & as flavoring for cooked dishes, imparting a woodsy, minty & peppery flavor. The unique flowers make an attractive garnish.

The fresh or dried leaves make a lovely minty tea that can be served hot or iced.

Medicinally Monarda has a high thymol content and, therefore, antibacterial properties. It also has antifungal and anesthetic properties. It can be used in mouthwashes, foot baths and is also useful as a wash for minor cuts and scrapes. The tea is useful for fever and stomach problems and can be used as a gentle sleep aid. Simmer the leaves for 10 minutes to bring out their full flavor.

The name bergamot was bestowed upon this plant because its scent faintly resembles that of a Bergamot Orange, to which it is not related.


Honey Lemon Balm Jelly

Made with Lemon Balm grown on our farm & honey harvested from our bees.

Pomona’s Pectin makes it possible to make interesting jams & jellies without the huge amount of sugar called for in many recipes, as well as allowing you to experiment and make fun new spreads in unexpected ways!

We are so excited to use this new spread, certainly on toast and oatmeal, but what about a glaze for chicken?

Let us know what you come up with!

 

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