I am posting the results of another Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) experiment. My results aren't great, but I figured they might be useful to others so I am sharing them.
Materials: I harvested a few roots from the Methow Valley 2 weeks ago. They were moderately sized (about 1 inch in diameter at the widest point) and from plants that were in flower, or about to flower.
Preparation: I removed the bark and steamed the roots for 2 hours in a pot. I tested the roots and they were still very fibrous. I put them in a pressure cooker and cooked them for another 4 hours.
Results: Tasting the roots was still akin to chewing on a hemp rope soaked in Cottonwood resin. The flavor was nice, I just couldn't bring myself to swallow a mouthful that was 90 percent fiber.
Discussion: I have yet to pit cook Balsamroots for 48 hours like was traditional, but I am loosing optimism that the tough fibers will soften into something edible. The cooking water in the pressure cooker was milky from what appeared to be a carbohydrate like substance Steamed and baked roots would probably not suffer the loss of these carbs. I cooked the Balsamroot with the root of Fern-leaved Desert-parsely (Lomatium dissectum). The Desert-parsely root took on the resinous flavor of Balsamroot, but was still too bitter for me to enjoy. Balsamroot was traditionally cooked with other roots, and I am starting to wonder if it was used primarily as a flavoring, despite the plethora of ethnobotanical evidence that says Balsamroot itself was eaten.
Conclusion: Try collecting 1/2 inch diameter Balsamroots in the spring before they flower and steaming them for 48 hours in my slow-cooker.
I would love to hear from anyone that has successfully eaten Balsamroot.