Japanese knotweed

Cocktail Revamps

Cocktail Recipe Staples: Knotweed+Wild Flower Syrups

                                   Raise the flavor profile of your craft cocktails with fresh, wild edible syrups

                                   Raise the flavor profile of your craft cocktails with fresh, wild edible syrups

These easy to make, sweet syrups will add a burst of fresh flavor to many cocktail recipes.

Pantry Items                                                                                                                                      
4 cups distilled water
1.75 cups sugar

Foraged Ingredients                                                                                                                                          2 pounds knotweed, peeled and chopped
1 cup wild blueberries

Prepare the Ingredients
Place cleaned, chopped knotweed in a saucepan
Cover with water, bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
Add blueberries and simmer another 5 minutes
Remove from heat
Strain through fine mesh strainer into a clean saucepan
Add sugar to the strained liquid
Bring sugar and liquid to a boil
Lower heat and simmer until sugar is dissovled, stirring constantly
Pour into glass jars or bottles.
Refrigerate.

Simple Wild Flower Blossom Syrup

Flowers add color and flavor to many recipes. Here's my basic simple sugar recipe which can be used for many wild and cultivated edible flowers.

Pantry Items                                                                                                                                                       Equal parts sugar and distilled water

Foraged Items                                                                                                                                                    Blossoms in amount equal to sugar and water

Prepare the ingredients
Bring sugar and distilled water to a boil, remove from the heat
Stir in three cups of loosely packed wild edibles until coated
Let mixture steep overnight.
The next morning pour the syrup through a strainer and save for later use

Wild Edible Basics

Japanese Knotweed: Myriad Uses, Amazing Flavor

                         Freshly foraged Japanese knotweed

                         Freshly foraged Japanese knotweed

If you like rhubarb, then Japanese knotweed is for you. Not everyone has access to a fresh rhubarb patch, but Japanese knotweed is one of those invasives that spreads faster than you can harvest and eat it. Japanese knotweed is tender for about three weeks before it becomes too tough to be worth harvesting. Gather as much as you can in that time, and use it in salads, sauces, compotes, jams, pies and every way you would use rhubarb. In the field, the segmented Japanese knotweed stalks look a lot like bamboo making it easy to recognize, although the leaves of these two unrelated plants are different. The best knotweed stalks are flexible and less than 12 inches high, about as thick as asparagus. I like to cut them 1-2 inches above the ground and trim off the tips and leaves while in the field. Once I get them home, I'll peel the outer skin. Early in the season, I cut them up and marinade them before adding them to a knotweed mushroom salad. You can simply peel them and freeze them for later use without having to blanch them in boiling water. I actually prefer to peel, cut and cook the knotweed until it has the consistency of applesauce. You can strain this for a smooth consistency or incorporate the stringy pulp into your recipe. Cooked knotweed has a greenish yellow color, so to make it prettier, I usually add frozen blueberries, which turns it a lovely purple color. My personal preference is for the texture of rustic cut, rather than diced or finely chopped ingredients. I like to peel and cut very ripe apples and pears in to the knotweed blueberry mix and cook everything over low heat, adding water as needed until the fruit mix is the consistency of chunky applesauce. This basic fruit mix can be flavored using cinnamon and cloves, or ginger, or any flavor you prefer.

Timeline
1-2 Days Before

Harvest asparagus-size shoots 1"-2" above the ground
Trim tops and leaves
Peel the smooth outer skin from the stalks
Cut into bite size pieces and freeze what you do not use immediately
For fruit mix, combine in a saucepan:
2 cups knotweed pieces
1 each – apple and pear cut into pieces
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
1/3 cup oats
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 ounces water
Bring the mix to a boil, turn down the heat to simmer. Covered the pan so the steam escapes, let everything cook 15 minutes. Add another half cup of water and simmer until all the ingredients are soft. Strain mixture for a smooth texture or leave it as is for a chunky texture. Refrigerate what you will eat in the next seven days. Freeze any excess for future use.
Serving options:
Add to yoghurt, ice cream, hot cereal.
Freeze in ice cube trays - insert a popsicle stick before freezing.
As a pie filling
As a side dish
                    

Shopping List:
Foraged Items:

Enough knotweed shoots to yield two cups per recipe
Pantry Items:
Apples, pears, blueberries, or any ripe fruit
Oatmeal - quick or old fashioned
Maple syrup
Vanilla
Cinnamon
Ginger                                                                                                                                                             

Recipe Revamps, Soups

Wild Japanese Knotweed and Berry Soup: A Colorful Bowl of Flavor

Japanese Knotweed (fallopia japonica) is an invasive plant that looks like asparagus, tastes like rhubarb, and will march across your property like an army. The most effective way to keep this plant from taking over is to eat it as fast as it grows.

When the tiny spears emerge in late March, the stalks are tender and delicious for about three weeks. After that they are woody and unpalatable. Like rhubarb, uncooked knotweed freezes beautifully, so harvest in abundance while you can and enjoy it all year round.

Recipes involving Japanese knotweed and rhubarb often call for sugar. Not this recipe. In fact, sugar would ruin it. The berries give this soup a beautiful color.

Serves 10-12 people

Foraged Ingredient:
4 cups Japanse knotweed, peeled  
Produce:
1 cups apples, peeled and cored
1 cup pears, peeled and cored
4 cups berries, mixed or choose one kind of berry
1.5 cups raisins

Timeline:
1-2 Days Before:
Harvest flexible stalks that are about the size of asparagus                                                      
Peel the thin outer skin from each stalk and discard
Chop the stalks into half inch pieces, refrigerate until ready to use                                                             
1-2 Hours Before:
Peel and core apples and pears, cut into quarters
Put apples and pears into large soup pot                 
Add berries and knotweed pieces to soup pot
Cover ingredients with water                                                                                        
Bring water to a boil 
Reduce heat and simmer 
Serve hot immediately or chill and serve cold    

Shopping List:
*Note: it's fun to forage for wild fruit, but the soup is just as tasty when prepared with items sold in the market
Foraged Items:
Japanese knotweed
*Wild berries, like blueberries, mulberries, if you find them
*Wild apples/pears if you find them
Market Items:                                                                                                                                
Apples
Pears
Berries of your choice, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries
Raisins – golden or dark
Pantry:
Knife for peeling and cutting knotweed and fruit
Soup pot