Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Strawberry and Japanese Knotweed Crisp Recipe

We've tried preparing Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica, syn. Polygonum cuspidatum) for several years now without being much impressed.  In previous years we've often thrown out what we've made after eating one serving.  This year, we're finally getting the hang of this prolific plant.  I think our success is due to the following:
  1. Japanese knotweed is not rhubarb.  A lot of wild food authors favorably compared knotweed to rhubarb.  So we tried replacing rhubarb from some domesticated recipes with knotweed.  This was a mistake.  Yes, it is true that knotweed has a similar textures and sour flavor to the familiar garden plant, but the similarities stop there.  Knotweed's sour is less tart, and it has a suite of earthy flavors that rhubarb does not have.  I suppose that replacing rhubarb in recipes was a good place to start, but we required a lot more experimentation before we hit on knotweed recipes that we truly enjoyed. 
  2. Less is more.  In our zeal to increase our consumption of knotweed, we always added too much to our recipes.  Like any strongly flavored ingredient, knotweed is best used sparingly.  (I, for one, would not enjoy a fruit salad based on sliced lemon.  There is a reason people use mild-flavored fruits like melons and then add other flavors to perk up or contrast the major ingredients.) 
  3. Gather early.  We like the early knotweed's flavor.  If the stalk breaks off easily at the base without much yanking, that is a good sign that we are picking knotweed at the right time. 
This is our favorite recipe so far for knotweed.

  • 3 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup knotweed stalks cut into thick coins
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • pinch of baking soda
  • pinch of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • cinnamon to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour, oats, surgar, baking soda, baking poweder, and cinnamon.
  3. Spread half of this crumb mixture on the bottom of a greased 9 x 9 pan.
  4. Spread the strawberries and knotweed over this and place the raining crumb over the top. 
  5. Bake 40 minutes or until lightly browned on top. 


  1. As good a use for Japanese knotweed as any! That looks delicious.

    1. Oh, it was delicious. Yum. Hope you tried (and enjoyed) some invasive goodness yourself.