Wild About - Dock

You would think that by November, foraging would be finished here in the Rocky Mountain region. Not so. Mind you, it's been an unseasonably warm autumn. But this is still a place that has four season, which I had thought meant my foraging fun would be finished by mid-September.

But, as is so often the case with foraging, you just have to keep your eyes open to the possibilities. Most plants around here froze to a nice crispy brown quite a while back. But, here's the thing. There are protected little pockets, micro climates, where plants are still growing.


This means that I'm still eating wild leafy greens in November! Mostly, I'm harvesting curly dock (Rumex crispus). Dock is related to buckwheat, and at this time of year, it's very easy to spot because it's sporting tall rust-colored seed stalks. The leaves are no longer growing tall; instead, they are nestled down low to the ground, and are still quite tender and mild.

If you've never tasted dock, it tastes quite similar to spinach or collards, deep and rich and satisfyingly green. I had thought about spinning up some fancy recipes for you, but I almost always eat my greens the same way. If they're tough, I stew them with a bit of pig ankle. If they're tender, I pan steam/saute them in bacon grease and garlic. Sometimes I throw shreds of leaves into my skillet dinners or soup. Nothing fancy, but always good. So instead of whipping up a gourmet recipe, I'd just like to encourage you to take advantage of your local wild greens, whether dock, amaranth, pig weed, or lambs quarters. There's a whole lot of delicious leaves out there, even this late in the year.

I'm sharing this post with my favorite, the Hearth and Soul hop, and also Real Food Deals, and Real Food Wednesday. Follow the links for more real food love.

Comments

  1. I grow dock in my garden! I love it - well as a gardener, I love any edible perennial! My patience dock is the first green up in my garden in the spring, though I nurse my kale, spinach, and chard through the winter (even though I live in the Sierra foothills). I am kind of weirdly passionate about serving my family fresh greens. :)

    BTW,I don't think you can buy dock seeds, but you can collect them while foraging. :)

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  2. Ok, so, I know I will probably sound ignorant here, but is this the plant that is growing wild in my veggie garden that I left because it was so big and bushy in the middle and looked so nice and then the next year, there were 20 of them and I am trying to kill them? brown tall stalks with seedheads that are tiny and papery? OK, so, you mean, i could have been saving money on all the kale I buy at the market and eating this???? So, are there different kinds of dock? My mother actually told me it was a weed, but I didnt listen to her...glad I didnt! Thanks as always for hosting and posting wonderful wild food on the hearth and soul hop! Hugs! alex

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  3. I have dock in my garden almost year round. It is a very tasty green. Thank you for sharing.
    Miz Helen

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  4. I had no idea that people grew dock in their gardens! What fun. Of course, I will never have the need because it's by far one of the most common "weeds" around here.

    Alea - I'm collecting the seeds, too. Post upcoming.

    Alex - There are lots of different kinds of dock. I think curly dock and yellow dock are most common. Send me a picture if you can, because yes, you could save a fortune on greens. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder why I'm wasting my time, energy, and water, growing kale and collards in my garden at all when Mamma N is providing so well with her wild leafies.

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  5. I didn't realise you could eat dock! Here it is used as a remedy for nettle stings. In fact, nettles and dock usually grow side by side in England (isn't Mother Nature grand!), so the only use I knew for dock up till now was to rub it on nettle stings. Thanks for the really interesting post!!

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  6. Because kale and collards taste great!!!
    Though my favourite greens are lambs quarters and mallow. Dock is a close runner up. By the way, harvest the roots and dry them-- fantastic liver tonic, cleans out the blood when you get the winter 'blah's.

    Alex-- send me a picture tooo!!

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  7. It's so wonderful that you're still able to find lovely greens. In November! I'd never heard of dock before, but it sounds like something I'd enjoy...I enjoy all greens, really. Gorgeous hearth and soul hop learnin' here...as always :D

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  8. Ahhh dock...my goats' favorite spring tonic.

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  9. April - My last encounter with nettles was when I used a bunch of them to pull myself up a hill while hiking. I could have used some dock then!

    Jenny - I love the wisdom of goats. Just look at what Rebecca said about the dock being a liver tonic.

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  10. Wow, I've never tried eating dock - didn't know you even could eat them - I learn something new from your blog every time I come by - thanks.
    Sue

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  11. I'm going to keep an eye out for dock now! Thanks for enlightening me, once again. :-)

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  12. Honestly, gals, this was new to me this year, too. But here's to learning new things! Take the knowledge and run!

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  13. Hey Butter, Just wanted to let you know that I am linking to this article because you inspired me to go outside, harvest some leaves and make my own delicious greens with Dock. Now, I combined Kale, dock and arugula, maybe because I am taking babysteps and didn't know how i would "feel" eating the dock, you know I have super food energy senses, but it turned out wonderfully and so, you get the credit for inspiring me! thanks so very much as always for showing us what you are wild about! :) Alex

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  14. This is such a nice blog. I'm a new follower, following from a blog hop.
    http://abundanceyeah.blogspot.com/2010/11/anatomy-of-leftover-turkey-dirty-word.html

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  15. Abundance, Yeah! Love it, nice to meet ya.

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  16. Butter - I found your post through A Moderate Life. I'm new to foraging. What's the difference between curly dock and yellow dock? It seems like the names are often used interchangeably. I harvested and dried some sort of dock roots this fall, but not sure which ones, to use for decoctions. They were growing in a newly broken potato bed.

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  17. Laurie - Congrats on taking up foraging! Isn't it fun? I know that all of the varieties of dock in NA are considered edible, they just vary in bitterness (although I've never tasted a bitter dock personally). But I'm not sure how they differ medicinally. Let me check with a friend who is an herbalist and try to get back to you.

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  18. If you have a patch of dock, and want it to last longer, cover it up with some clear plastic held down with rocks or some such thing. You can probably give yourself another month of greens.

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