yellow dock’s botanical name is rumex crispus, she has a yellow carrot-shaped root and is a member of the buckwheat family. she is easy to identify in the fall, yellow dock shoots up straight rust-colored stalks full of rust-colored seeds. oblong slender leaves become smaller up the stem. lots of folks have opinions about fall and spring harvesting which is best and what not. my personal thoughts on this is simple. the show must go on so whichever works best for you is what you should do. i harvest in both the spring and fall. yellow dock likes to grow in damp turfy sandy sunny locations, disturbed soils, roadsides, and fields. so it’s good to have a solid knowledge about herbicide use in the area. the picture below is from last fall, you can see the same “hoodoo” cliff in the background.
i love yellow dock and have a pretty substantial relationship with her. i take the tincture as needed and find it to be helpful in keeping the liver functioning well and increasing bile. i don’t like the word cleanse, because it seems to now imply doing something extreme however i feel yellow dock stimulates the liver and cleanses the blood. these roots are packed full of vitamins and minerals, especially iron. so this year I decided to make yellow dock syrup 🧡 and this is my process.
if you have a natural water source nearby, give your roots a good rinse before heading home. i find an old scrub brush works well at removing dirt. there were a few dandelions growing, so I brought them home too. once cleaned up I chopped the roots up and put them in a pan.
meanwhile, i’m gathering the other ingredients for this iron-building syrup. i really want to reintegrate that herbal recipes are basic guidelines, just that. we must be curious and experiment, find what works for us. take the basic idea and run with it, improvising along the way. i feel this way about herbalism in general, get inspired, use what you have, and find your own way that works for you. there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it, it’s kitchen witchery, and all the women before you in your bloodline did it. alright, i will jump off my soapbox now and share this recipe. i weighted the ingredients as well, in case you are a scale person. as a maker of items to sell, i am pretty much in the habit of weighing everything. this isn’t an exact recipe as always use what you can and what’s available to you. i have also made this with dried dandelion and yellow dock roots, it’s just as good.
1 cups fresh dandelion root (1/4 cup dried)
2 cups fresh yellow dock root (1/2 cup dried)
1 cup dried hawthorn berries or dried rosehips
1 tablespoon dried lemon peel
8 whole cardamom pods
3 quarts water
1 cup dried red raspberry leaves, hawthorn leaf, and flower, dried rose petals, or another tannic in nature herb
1 cup dried self-heal, mullein leaf, or linden flower (again use what you have on hand)
1 cup molasses (preferably blackstrap)
2 ounces tincture ~ hawthorn, rose petal, dandelion, or your choice. something you have a lot of and a nutritive herb ~ this is optional
you can use dried dandelion and yellow dock, general ratio use 1/4 cup dried plant material to 1 cup fresh plant material. i used hawthorn berries because i had them. i think any berry would be good, elderberry, huckleberry, or rosehips would be great. okay first off I placed the water, yellow dock, dandelion, hawthorn, lemon peel, and cardamom pods in a pot and simmered for a few hours. just your basic “cook down” i turned off the heat and added the raspberry, self-heal, and molasses. then i set the whole pot outside to cool and basically just sit and stew overnight
then i strain it and added the tincture if using. the tincture is totally optional, however adding tincture to any syrup will extend its shelf life. i ended up with around 8 cups of syrup. you can bottle in any ol bottle cute wine bottles, growlers, or swing tops. storing in the fridge will also extend its shelf life. I would try and use it up within a month or two. you can use this syrup liberally on pancakes, oatmeal, or smoothies. my favorite way to use this is in a delicious mocktail. simply pour 1 part syrup over ice in a fancy glass and add three parts sparkling water. ta ~ da ..... here’s your one chance fancy don’t let me down 🎶 just kidding you get many chances.
thanks for reading this and feel free to leave a comment and interact anyway you like i am active on instagram and tiktok. please share on your social media or with a friend who might enjoy this. you can purchase herbal tinctures/extracts here or in the shop section over at simplyjosephine.com. wishing you all a glorious spring full of green blessings.
some of my resources for this post are:
the boreal herbal by berverly gray
herbal roots zine september 2014 issues ~ yielding yellow dock by kristine brown