Sunday, April 12, 2009

Free Pickin's!

It's a bit early for any real harvests from the garden yet.  I've snitched a few baby chard leaves and the tops of my fava bean seedlings for a salad, but that's about all my garden has produced so far this season.  But there's a free harvest out there waiting in the wings of our community garden. . . knotweed! The garden is surrounded by groves of Japanese knotweed, an invasive weed that was brought in (like so many other invasive weeds) as an ornamental.  Unfortunately it has done so well here that it's crowding out native plants and is considered to be one of the world's worst invasive species.  What can we do about it?  Eat it!  Yes, Japanese knotweed is edible, but only for a very short time, and that time is now.  It's only the new, tender spring shoots that are edible--in a few short weeks this fast-growing weed will be much too woody to eat.  

Japanese knotweed shoots are similar in appearance and speed of growth to asparagus, but in flavor they're very similar to rhubarb.  Pick nice fat shoots when they're a foot tall or less, strip off any leaves, and use it as you would rhubarb.  Today I'm making a knotweed crumble. Knotweed shoots are hollow, so use a bit more per recipe than you would rhubarb since it shrinks down more as it cooks.  It's also slightly less tart than rhubarb, so I like to add a little lemon juice.  I first learned about eating knotweed from "Wildman" Steve Brill's website, which includes lots of recipes and great information about the plant (along with lots of other great foraging advice).
So, do your civic duty and harvest some knotweed shoots, and get a free meal in the bargain!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow that's pretty cool! I grew up with these around frick, never thought of eating them. thanks for the tip!

see you around,