How to make dock seed flour (and how I use it)

Letting weeds flourish on your property can bring many benefits, not only to native wildlife but to you as well.

Nettles (dioecious urtica), fireweed or rosebay willowherb as we call it here (Chamaenerion angustifolium), and spring (Rumex obtusifolius) are three of the most abundant and useful weeds growing on my property.

Recently, I harvested a large amount of seed from the dock that grows here. Today I thought I’d share how I use those seeds to make flour and how I use them.

Dock Seed Harvest

Many people will be familiar with the sight of the dock’s dry brown seed stalks, which last from late summer or early fall into winter. But few people realize how useful these seeds can be.

Dock seeds (both Rumex obtusifolius Y crispy rumex) are actually from the same family as buckwheat, which is well known for its healthy, nutrient-rich seeds. And for me, the taste of ground seeds is no different from buckwheat seeds and flour.

If you look at the dock closely, you’ll see that on each stalk there are hundreds of seeds encased in brown, paper-like seed coats. Even those who are familiar with the edibility of seeds can be discouraged because they imagine that it will be very difficult to get these seeds out of their wrappers.

The good news is that it is not necessary. The paper wrappers won’t do any harm and can be ground along with the seeds to create a high-fiber flour. They don’t provide much nutritionally, but they do help add fiber to your diet.

The harvest, therefore, could not be easier. Run your hand through the stems and you can easily harvest a large number of seeds in their wrappers in no time. Make sure you do this outside though, or it can make a big mess.

Dock Seed Preparation

Some people find that the seeds taste quite bitter when used right away. Soaking them overnight in water will remove this slight bitterness. Although not an essential stage, in my opinion this can be beneficial for the best flavor.

After soaking the seeds overnight, the next stage is to dry them completely before they can be ground. I gently roast the seeds in my oven for about 10-15 minutes so they dry completely but don’t burn. This light roast also brings out a slight nutty flavor.

Make dock seed flour

Once the seeds in their wrappers are completely dry, they should break and crumble a bit as you rub them between your hands. If you wish, you can follow a traditional process and remove the seed from the straw at this stage.

But I don’t mind. I simply use a blender to beat the seeds and their coatings into a fine flour. You can also use a coffee grinder, or even a mortar and pestle, though of course this will take a lot longer.

If you like, you can use the raw seeds to make crackers. But I prefer to make the flour, and use a blender. This is usually very easy to do as long as they are completely dry.

How to use dock seed flour

Dock seed flour is gluten-free, so it won’t create a light, airy loaf. But I love adding a bit of my dock seed flour to a traditional wheat bread, made with locally heirloom wheat grain flour.

My favorite recipe involves using 1/3 whole wheat flour, 1/3 regular white flour, and 1/3 dock seed flour to make a hearty rustic bread. You can make a yeast bread or a soda bread, both of which work well with a proportion of dock seed flour in the mix.

Dock seed flour also works well with oats in crackers, rolled very thin with a little salt, herbs, and as little water as possible. Another great recipe uses dock seed flour to make pancakes (much like buckwheat pancakes). You can use it in sweet pastry recipes, as it goes well with chocolate. Chocolate Dock Seed Brownies are another great way to use up this free and abundant natural food source.

So the next time you see dock, don’t think of it as a weed. Think of this plant as a wild edible that keeps on giving, as it will not only provide seeds, but also green leaves and young stems, which turn bitter as they age, but are great for spring cooking.

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