Often the “flour” you can harvest in the wild isn’t exactly what we’d call flour in the grocery store. Red clover flour, for example, is made from a blossom rather than a grain, so it’ll cook very differently. Similarly, pine bark flour or birch bark flour are made from tree bark, not grain.
If you want real “flour” you need to harvest seed and dock seeds fit the bill nicely.
How Does Dock Seed Flour Taste?
Dock plants are perennials, which means they re-sprout from the same spot year after year. In the very late winter and early spring, the new dock plants will sprout and begin to form leaves right under last year’s seed stalks. As that new green growth begins, last years seeds are often still clinging to the stalk.
Add in a perennial growth habit, and you’ve got a recipe for a persistent weed…that just happens to be a good wild food source in both the country and city.
Harvesting dock seed in the early spring. Last year’s stalk is still standing, and this year’s greens have already sprouted.
I wrote a primer on harvesting and using dock seed flour, including half a dozen recipes too. I included it in a batch of pine bark cookies, made with both dock and pine bark flour. They also had home rendered squirrel fat, but that’s another story…
One of the best wild vegetables I tried last summer was burdock stalks, and from this description, I think dock stalks sound about as tasty. They’re on my list to try this year…
That said, it’s supposed to have some pretty impressive medical benefits. Yellow dock is best known as a bitter digestive herb, and as a liver detoxifier. It’s taken to help balance hormones, regulate the digestive system (both diarrhea and constipation) and as a source of bio-available minerals. I generally use burdock tincture for most of those uses, so after that first attempt at yellow dock extract, I haven’t ever used yellow dock roots again.
Slightly later in the season the leaves dry out and tear when pulled, and they’re no longer good eating.
While some dock species taste slightly better than others, they’re all edible and eaten in the same ways.
The most commonly used medicinal portion of wild dock is the roots. The roots are generally considered far to woody for eating, and beyond that, they taste pretty horrible (in my opinion). We’ve made both a vinegar extract from yellow dock root, and it was honestly one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted. Medicinal or not, you’d have to guarantee me that it’d cure cancer to get me to choke it down again.
One of my favorite parts of dock to forage, wild dock seeds are related to buckwheat and the seeds resemble buckwheat grain. They mature in the fall, but you can still forage them in winter since the seeds will hang onto the tough stalks for months, and they’re still around to harvest in the early spring. Since dock plants are perennial, the same plant will sprout under last years stalk in the spring. This gives you the unique opportunity to harvest young dock leaves and last years dock seeds at the same time.