I enjoy playing around with wild flours: acorn flour, Jerusalem artichoke flour, and now, roasted dock seed flour. Not because I have a problem with gluten (I don’t) but because it’s fun. And each of these flours brings something different to the things you bake with them.
Most people appreciate dock for its plentiful greens. They’re tart, tasty, and you often get two crops per year: one in spring and one in fall.
In summer, small white flowers are held on tall (2-3′) branching stalks, and those flowers are followed by green seed heads. In late summer the seeds dry to a vibrant reddish brown; that’s when it’s time to harvest. Each plant produces multitudes of seeds, so it’s easy to collect enough for several cups of flour in a short time.
There are some foragers who winnow dock seed. I am not one of those foragers. Winnowing is hard. And tedious. And hard. Fortunately, you don’t have to winnow dock seed. Use the entire seed head and thank me later for the extra fiber.
How to Harvest Dock Seeds
Strip the seeds from their stem by holding it over a paper bag and running your hand along the stem, allowing the seeds to fall into the bag. When you get home, spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet and pick out any leaves and bugs that may have come along for the ride.
If your seeds aren’t 100% dry, give them a few hours in the dehydrator. Or if you live in an arid place, as I do, let them dry in the sun between two screens. The screens are important as the seed is very light and could easily blow away.
How to Make Roasted Dock Seed Flour
Once the seed is dry, you can grind it and use it as flour. I’ve used it this way, and it’s perfectly fine. But why settle for perfectly fine? Roasting your dock seeds adds a whole ‘nother dimension to their flavor, and it only takes five minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350F and spread the dock seeds on cookie sheets in a thin layer. Let them bake for 5 minutes, then pull them out of the oven and let them cool. You’ll be able to smell the difference. The scent is rich and dark with hints of caramel. It’s kind of irresistible.
Pour the roasted seeds into the dry grains canister of a Vitamix (for a big batch) or a coffee bean grinder (for a small batch). Both work well. Pulverize those seeds like there’s no tomorrow. You want them to be as fine as possible to use them as flour.
Once you’ve ground your roasted dock seeds, transfer the flour to a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, and store it out of direct sun light. You can use this with traditional flour (1/2 – 1/2) in breads, cakes, and muffins, or alone in brownies, cookies, and crackers. Because roasted dock seed flour doesn’t contain gluten, it doesn’t rise, and it also doesn’t bind as well as traditional flours do. This is less of a problem with crackers, cookies, and brownies, so if you want to go full force with the foraged flour, start with one of these.
I grow Doc for the Birds to use the seeds for food; I like the looks of the plant;
Beth Walldorf says
Just baked my first sourdough boule with dock seed flour. For this batch I replaced 1/4 of the flour with the dock flour. The dock flour had been roasted, separated from the hulls, and ground. It was not as open of a crumb as I would like. Very dense, but the texture was not terrible. However I found it to be very bitter. I am thinking this would be best in desserts. Do you have any suggestions?
I’ve never used dock flour for bread, just for crackers and brownies where I used it for 100% of the flour. The flavor definitely has a bitter edge to it, and since people perceive bitterness differently, it may be that dock flour is too bitter for you. I like a little bitterness, especially with chocolate (so your guess about desserts is a good one). My husband finds it too bitter to enjoy. I’ve never gone to the trouble of separating the seeds from the hulls and that might make a difference. The bitterness is in the seeds, not the hulls. So by using the hulls you’d be decreasing the number of seeds in your flour, hence making it less bitter. Maybe next time try roasting and grinding with the hulls on? If you do, please let me know if it makes a difference.
Gretchen K says
Interesting! What type of wheat flour did you use? AP or bread flour? I did the something similar (25% swap of flour for dock seed flour), but I did not try to separate the seed and chaff. I also roasted the dock, and I used a food mill to stone grind seed & chaff into a fine-grain flour. For my first test recipe, I started with a simple oatmeal cookie. I was worried about the extra moisture needed from whole-grain dock seed. I was going work up to breads.
It depends on what I’m making. For bread, I’d use bread flour. For cookies, AP. For brownies and crackers, I use 100% dock, but that might be too bitter for some. I like bitter.
Gretchen K says
Thank you so much for posting this article. It has put me on the path to start milling my own curly dock. I notice that your final product looks like a ground coffee. Have you thought of using an actual food mill to stone grind the dock? I used my WonderMill Jr and was able to get a wonderful light, fine flour texture.
I grind my seeds in the dry grains canister of my Vitamix. I do a find grind for the brownies and a coarser grind for crackers.