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Recipe For A Knotty Problem

Thanks to Cat for the recipe idea.  I don't like to cook, unless I'm really in a mood, so I don't really have a bank of yummy ideas.  Mine would be more like- "Here's a recipe for when it would just be downright embarrassing not to bring something- making it isn't too painful and no one has died from eating this."
I am, however, really excited about a recipe I found a few years ago. Not excited enough to make it, mind you, but pretty excited to share in the hopes that one of you will make it and that it will be the answer to a really big Peaks Island problem....

Sixty years ago the Army planted a problem on Peaks Island.  To hide the recently-constructed Battery Steele they 'relocated' topsoil to the top and planted stands of Bamboo (Japanese knotweed) and Bittersweet- fast growing ground covers.  Boy, what a success!  Those two species now choke out much of the growth in our interior land- and each of us has stories to tell about  the ongoing battle in our own yards to fend off these relentless invaders. 

Once, while researching for a presentation at the community center for PILP, I ran across a recipe to use Bamboo/Japanese knotweed in a cake.  Apparently, if you pick it in the spring when the shoots are young, it behaves and tastes much like rhubarb. 
Could this be our answer? Peaks Island is just lousy with great cooks- couldn't we eat our way out of this mess?   On the mainland there are strawberry festivals and blueberry festivals and lobster festivals and clam festivals- why don't we plan a bamboo festival??? Google for yourself, and I'd be happy to taste test whatever recipe you try---

Applesauce-Knotweed Cake

For this recipe, you’ll need to harvest Japanese Knotweed stalks at the “wild rhubarb” stage,  which typically shows up around the end of April in the Boston area.  Look for stalks about 18-24 inches long, select the fattest stalks you can (at least 3/4 inch in diameter – they’re easier to peel that way), cut at ground level, lop off the top cluster of leaves and bring the stalks home.  Once you’ve got them home, peel the very outer layer (which is stringy) off of each stalk; Japanese Knotweed stalks are hollow, though, so don’t peel too deeply or all you’ll have left is the hole.  You can eat the peeled stalks raw if you want (their tart, juicy, crunchy texture and flavor is somewhat like that of a Granny Smith apple), or just chop them up for use in the recipe below or just about any other recipe calling for rhubarb.  


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup plain applesauce
  • 4 firmly-packed cups peeled Japanese Knotweed stalk pieces (chop or knead the peeled stalks into small pieces <1” long)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • powdered sugar 
Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease a 13” by 9” baking pan.  
Beat eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until blended.  In the meantime, mix the flour, baking soda and spices together in a separate bowl.  Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl, then add the applesauce, knotweed pieces and walnuts and mix until blended. Pour the batter into the greased baking pan and spread evenly.   Bake at 350ºF for one hour, then remove from the oven and cool on a wire drying rack.  Dust the top with powdered sugar.  Serve warm or cold.  Makes 15 good-sized servings.  Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for use in the next few days or frozen for longer storage. 

Good Luck! 
Lynne (also posting on my blog- don't know how to get them to speak to each other yet....)



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Feb. 5th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC)
Wow, awesome!

I have a friend who does this sort of thing for a living coming up to help us establish a garden in March, I'll post what she says about the bittersweet.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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