|Last season's dry stems|
The shoots appear next to the last season's dry stems, first as pink shoots, then growing quickly into tall, red-speckled green stems with a crown of curled, green leaves. The shoots have a sour, green apple-like taste, but with an odd vegetal quality. It is probably one of those love-or-hate tastes. Some recipes may call for you to peel the stalks, which we do with a potato peeler. When the shoots are about 3"-8" tall is the best time to gather them to use in recipes like dessert bars, tapioca, or a jelly. If the stems are about 8"-12" tall, we still pick them to make the jelly or wine. When they get too much taller, more leaves will unfurl and the stems become tough and stringy, almost more string than flesh. The stems can grow 6'-12' tall, and there is a second species that grows in our area that is even bigger, the giant knotweed (Polygonum sachalinense).
|Japanese knotweed chilled soup|