Hello friends! It’s been awhile! Last weekend we went on a foraging tour in Forest Park with “Wildman” Steve Brill, a notable and notorious naturalist who leads tours in parks all over the New York City metropolitan area. We highly recommend checking out one of the tours (especially in nearby Forest Park, which we love); “Wildman” is a super-nutty and extremely knowledgeable guide, and it’s a fun and thrifty activity for all ages. On this tour, we foraged such springtime delights as field garlic, common plantain, garlic mustard, burdock root, wild carrot, mugwort, violet, honewort, sweet cicely root, black birch, devil’s walking stick, chickweed, dandelion, wood sorrel, Japanese day lilies, and our very favorite, Japanese knotweed.
A member of the rhubarb family and visually reminiscent of asparagus, Japanese knotweed can be found in Forest Park in the spring. The firm spears are hollow, so slicing them crosswise yields “O” shapes. We’re having a late spring this year, “Wildman” said, and the ‘weed will be harvestable for another week or two (they’re best as short, young spears). We found our ‘weed at the bottom of a thorny hill, just over a wooden (I think) roadside barrier along Freedom Drive. I’m not sure of the exact coordinates but if you want to try foraging some Japanese knotweed this weekend, let me know and I’ll try to be a little more descriptive! Anyway, after an exciting day in Forest Park, we took our knotweed and other foraged goodies home and baked these delicious Japanese Knotweed, Carrot & Apple muffins (more photos & recipe below).
- 2 cups young Japanese knotweed, chopped
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 2 cups whole grain pastry flour
- 3/4 c sugar
- 2 T wheat germ
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1½ tsp baking power
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup sunflower or other light oil
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Oil a 12-cup muffin pan.
Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix the wet ingredients, then add the carrot and Japanese knotweed.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients until mixed. Divide batter among the muffin cups and bake for 15-18 minutes (17 worked for us).
To get to Forest Park, take the Q55 bus toward Richmond Hill. The bus route starts at the Ridgewood Intermodal Terminal on Palmetto Street and continues along Myrtle Avenue to the park. Total trip time: approximately 30 minutes. For more information on “Wildman” Steve Brill and his foraging tours, visit his website.