Sunday, April 21, 2013

Japanese Knotweed Recipe - Knotweed Fruit Leather


Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) is one of our most prolific invasive plants, it spreads by producing copious winged seeds in the fall and through underground rhizomes. Colonies of knotweed advance and can puncture up through the pavement in the spring, making them especially hated by public works employees who will try to cut down the stalks and poison the heck out of the plant. When gathering some knotweed shoots in the spring for consumption, try to get them from untreated areas and away from roadsides. They should also be picked before they are 12" tall, when they are still thick and have not unfurled too many leaves is the best time. To eat them raw, we prefer to peel the stalks, which can be difficult since the stalk is hollow like bamboo. When they are younger, the stalks are thicker and the peel comes off rather easily with a knife or potato peeler. For this fruit leather recipe, we peel the stalks since the whole plant is pureed and consumed, and this recipe is great because it uses a lot of knotweed.

Peeled knotweed stalks

The color is not particularly appetizing, olive green, but the flavor is similar to sour apples, without any of the knotweed's typical vegetal qualities. Our daughter, Gillian, really enjoys this snack and we had trouble keeping her away from the fruit leather long enough to take a picture. I tried two different methods of drying the fruit leather: the oven and the dehydrator. We have a cheap 1990's Ronco dehydrator that works just fine, using the fruit leather plastic tray. I then tried spreading the puree on parchment in the Ronco and it worked, but was a little more brittle. Then I spread some puree very thickly on some silicone baking mats on a sheetpan in the oven and it worked, but took the longest to dry. Once I removed it form the drying surface, I just rolled them up to store them in some glass jars.

Japanese Knotweed Fruit Leather       makes 2c. puree

4 c. peeled and chopped Japanese knotweed stalks
1 c. water
3 T sugar

1. Place the chopped knotweed and water in a large pot and bring the water up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stew for 10 minutes, stirring often. The knotweed will change color to light green as it cooks and will start to fall apart.
2. Add the sugar and cook 3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.
3. Puree the stewed knotweed and allow it to cool. Spread the knotweed puree about 1/8" thick in a dehydrator fruit leather tray or on a silicone baking sheet. Dry at 150° F until the fruit leather changes to a darker green and is dry to the touch, or follow the manufacturer's directions for a dehydrator.

Pile of knotweed peels



6 comments:

PocketRealm said...

There are other varieties of knotweed I found when looking up identification tips. It mentioned japanese as well as Bohemian, Giant and Himalayan. Do these varieties work as well or is it imperative that the ones used are of the Japanese variety?

The 3 Foragers said...

I am not sure about the other varieties of knotweed, we encounter Japanese knotweed and giant knotweed here in Connecticut, and both are very similar to one another.

Gin said...

Harvested at the proper time (about 3.5-4' tall, Japanese knotweed makes an incredibly good handmade paper. It's just a matter of chopping the stalks into 1" pieces, cooking for about an hour in sodium carbonate, rinsing, then running the mash through a kitchen blender or Hollander beater. The pulp is treated as any other paper pulp...suspended in water, pulled out on a screen and dried. It's a wonderful use for a nasty, invasive plant.

Organic Food Toowoomba said...

Nice post.. Thanks for sharing information about knotweed..

ZeeKhana Khazana said...

I can't believe this. You have explained wonderful recipe. This is interest fact about Peeled knotweed and may be you can get solution from any Indian Recipes

EllenSmart said...

Japanese knotweed is a terrible terrible problem where I live. It is so invasive, and has no enemies, that the dept of Agriculture and all concerned attack it by injecting it with herbicide. That's the only thing that does away with it.

I'm not surprised one can make paper out it!