Japanese knotweed, Fallopia japonica (also Polygonum cuspidatum), is an aggressive, introduced plant in North America. In an effort to make a resource out of a pest, foragers are developing recipes for this edible invasive plant. Strawberry knotweed crisp is my latest effort. You combine young knotweed shoots with strawberries, orange zest, ground cloves, and sugar, and add a buttery oat topping to make a unique and tasty crisp.
While knotweed is often said to taste like rhubarb, it really has a unique flavor unto itself. You can substitute knotweed shoots for rhubarb, but don’t expect the flavor to be the same, or you might be disappointed. I wanted this crisp to be distinctly different from my usual strawberrry rhubarb pie, so I flavored it with a bit of orange zest and ground cloves. It’s very good, but I think it would be even better with lemon zest, given Japanese knotweed’s slight lemony flavor. Take your choice in this recipe – either orange zest, lemon zest, or a little of each.
Strawberry Knotweed Crisp
For this recipe, you must use young Japanese knotweed shoots, less than about 10 inches tall. This plant grows very quickly in spring, and stays that small for about 5 minutes. You have to know where it grows and keep an eye out for its little asparagus-like tips to pop up. If you find it past the stage of young shoots (but still less than 2-3 feet tall), try my Strawberry FleeceFlower Yogurt Pops. Note: Some sources say this plant can sprout from a stem fragment. While I am not sure that’s true, you should take care to not leave any plant debris around when you harvest it. Do not compost any parts of Japanese knotweed.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- 3/4 cup oats (either old fashion or quick cooking)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- Cut ingredients together with a pastry blender in a medium bowl, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tbsp grated orange zest (or try lemon zest)
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 4 cups sliced strawberries, greens removed
- 2 cups Japanese knotweed shoots, cut into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices.
- Whisk together the sugar, zest, and cloves until well blended.
- Add the sugar mixture to the berries and knotweed in a large bowl, and stir to blend.
Make Strawberry Knotweed Crisp
- Spread the filling in a 10 inch pie plate (un-greased).
- Sprinkle topping evenly over the filling.
- Bake at 375 degrees F, for 25-30 minutes, until topping is light golden, and filling is bubbling up around the edges.
- Remove from oven. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.
Have you cooked with Japanese knotweed? What has worked well, and what hasn’t?