Of all the wild plants to be foraged along the coast of Main, perhaps one of the common and easy to forage plants has to be the Japanese Knotweed. This species of plants is both abundant and edible to humans. Not only is it fairly easy to harvest, but it can provide a tasty addition to any vegetable dish.
Japanese Knotweed is high in a chemical called emodin, which is beneficial for regulating the bowels. This plant can viably replace a store-bought laxative when its naturally occurring laxatives are stripped from their origin.
In addition to emodin, there is also the presence of Resveratrol, which has been proven to help overall cardiac health.
Cooking with Japanese Knotweed
While most consumers of Japanese Knotweed claim to serve this plant as a vegetable dish, there are a variety of ways to cook and eat it.
One of the first and most popular ways to prepare Japanese Knotweed is to tear off the leaves, cut the stalk into slices, and throw it into a jar of vinegar, water, salt, garlic, and sugar. After a few hours or days of patience, it will be time to enjoy delicious pickled Japanese Knotweed.
Another common way to eat Knotweed is to tear off the leaves and cook the stalk in the same fashion as asparagus. Although the flavor is a bit more pungent than asparagus, it is similar in texture. Throw the Japanese Knotweed into a simmering pan of olive oil, butter, and garlic to cause it to soften. Once it is done sauteeing, squeeze a dash of lemon juice over the top.
Seasoned bakers will also use Japanese Knotweed in the same types of baked goods as rhubarbs, as there is a slight sweetness to go along with the plant’s acidity. A crowd favorite worth trying is Knotweed coffee cake.
Whether you are on a quest to forage new plants for survival or simply to enjoy the pleasures of nature surrounding you, there is no doubt that Japanese Knotweed should be at the top of the list for things to forage. While this plant grows everywhere, it is especially abundant in Maine and is almost impossible to kill. While some may see this plant as a pesky “weed,” others appreciate it for its abundance and versatility.