May 2010


This week is the Invisible Food text weekend. Please text 07722003465 to receive texts

New text-messaging piece of work launched at the Edible Lambeth festival on Saturday 19th June and continuing over the weekend. Actions from what’s happening in the urban plant world will be relayed by text message throughout each day to subscribers to the project as well as archived on twitter.

Please text 07722003465 to receive texts or mail invisiblefood(at)gmail.com to subscribe. Send your mobile number.

http://twitter.com/invisiblefood

Heavy chesnut blossom sands the pavement tracing the outline of the cars on Camberwell Grove. Sawdust to dust. 8 minutes ago via web

  • Beside a hawthorn tree. Flowers browning, the heart brightening. Water has flowed on. Grace. Primrose Hill 2:58 PM May 26th via web
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  • Clashing greens, waxy lime bract. The flowers are > just > about > to > open. I may miss it. Coffee turns your skin into leather. 2:55 PM May 26th via web
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  • All of a sudden it’s happening. The suns of elderflower. Shadow. 2:37 PM May 26th via web
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  • The window is now, the sun, the suns of elderflower. All of a sudden it’s everywhere and there’s an abundance of graciousness in the air. 2:36 PM May 26th via web
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  • Daisies sway at the end of a drunken afternoon when its not so bad returning to the Tulse hill estate behind a push chair with a friend. 9:34 AM May 21st via txt
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  • After ten minutes sitting on the ground the ants start to climb over me and my bum is blotting paper to the May dampness. Myatts Field 3:54 AM May 19th via web
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  • A billboard announcing survival is the best revenge scales a 3m wall and is cut off by a train arriving. Maple beech and lime tower sile … 6:19 AM May 18th via txt
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  • My nightmare was a boy clutching a yanked bunch of ragwort repeating ‘can you eat it can you eat it’. 6:10 AM May 18th via txt
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  • The lemon balm is busy and there are two ladybirds basking on it. A dandelion leaf pushes up through the bush like a sword. Angell Town 1:30 PM May 17th via web
  • We’ll be at this event. Doing a walk at 2pm and then a cook up from 3pm.

    This week is the Invisible Food text weekend. Please text 07722003465 to receive texts

    New text-messaging piece of work launched at the Edible Lambeth festival on Saturday 19th June and continuing over the weekend. Actions from what’s happening in the urban plant world will be relayed by text message throughout each day to subscribers to the project.

    Please text 07722003465 to receive texts or mail invisiblefood(at)gmail.com to subscribe. Send your mobile number.

    http://twitter.com/invisiblefood

    Heavy chesnut blossom sands the pavement tracing the outline of the cars on Camberwell Grove. Sawdust to dust. 8 minutes ago via web

  • Beside a hawthorn tree. Flowers browning, the heart brightening. Water has flowed on. Grace. Primrose Hill 2:58 PM May 26th via web
  •  

  • Clashing greens, waxy lime bract. The flowers are > just > about > to > open. I may miss it. Coffee turns your skin into leather. 2:55 PM May 26th via web
  •  

  • All of a sudden it’s happening. The suns of elderflower. Shadow. 2:37 PM May 26th via web
  •  

  • The window is now, the sun, the suns of elderflower. All of a sudden it’s everywhere and there’s an abundance of graciousness in the air. 2:36 PM May 26th via web
  •  

  • Daisies sway at the end of a drunken afternoon when its not so bad returning to the Tulse hill estate behind a push chair with a friend. 9:34 AM May 21st via txt
  •  

  • After ten minutes sitting on the ground the ants start to climb over me and my bum is blotting paper to the May dampness. Myatts Field 3:54 AM May 19th via web
  •  

  • A billboard announcing survival is the best revenge scales a 3m wall and is cut off by a train arriving. Maple beech and lime tower sile … 6:19 AM May 18th via txt
  •  

  • My nightmare was a boy clutching a yanked bunch of ragwort repeating ‘can you eat it can you eat it’. 6:10 AM May 18th via txt
  •  

  • The lemon balm is busy and there are two ladybirds basking on it. A dandelion leaf pushes up through the bush like a sword. Angell Town 1:30 PM May 17th via web
  • Wild food walk around the green spaces of Loughborough area of Brixton to forage for our lunch!

    Last month we had dandelion flower fritters, nettle soup, stuffed lime leaves and eritrean coffee! We prepared hawthorn flower syrup which we’ll have on the 12th June.

    Come prepared to enjoy yourself and join in.

    Walks are accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Bring suitable clothes and some food to share at the end. We’ll be making some paper from leaf pulp while the leaves are at their bushiest.

    Bring some old sheets of paper for drying your paper in between. Photocopied, not ink jet paper.

    Also bring tupperwares or bags for collecting things in.

    Please note: we’ll be leaving the centre around 12pm and won’t be back again until 1.30 ish. Please arrive promptly for 11.45 or slightly before so we can do registration and move off at 12pm

    —-&——-&——–&——–&————-&

    The aim of Invisible Food is to strengthen social cohesion in disadvantaged areas throughout Lambeth, and specifically in the Coldharbour ward, through engaging with the natural environment. Invisible Food walks and workshops aim to increase opportunities for local residents to contribute their environmental, botanical and culintary knowledge and experience as part of a reskilling process towards a low carbon future. Invisible Food organises wild food walks, cooking sessions and creative workshops (including drawing, writing, mapmaking and traditional crafts) as opportunities for sharing experience and strengthening communities.

    Oasis nature garden is an amazing resource. Kids, get down there now!

    Or come along on Saturday 29th May at 11am for a Photo foraging walk and to cook up some elderflower fritters … the best of the Summer’s offerings.

    Oasis Children’s Nature Garden
    Welcome to Oasis Children’s Nature Garden, one of the only wildlife gardens just for children. The garden was a derelict site until 1982 when the local community began working on the transformation of this site into it’s now mature state. The garden boasts an array of natural habitats such as a wildflower meadow, woodland, two wildlife ponds and a wetland area, a nectar garden, a cottage garden and a sensory trail. The garden supports a variety of plant, insect and animal species. We have a greenhouse for raising seedlings and a heated greenhouse for tropical plants. There is an indoor area and a porch.

    The site is open access and attracts children aged 5 – 16 yrs. Children and young people usually with no garden of their own can enjoy experiencing this unique outdoors environment. Here they can play freely whilst learning about nature in a safe and stimulating environment.

    http://www.oasisplay.org.uk/naturegarden.html

     

    This is the label the children created and designed themselves in photoshop

    NEWS RELEASE – for immediate release

     

    Young people from Brixton create their own wild drink

     

    Launch event Saturday 5th June at 2pm in Brixton Market

     

    In the summer half term, young people from Grove Adventure Playground, near Loughborough and Hertford estates in Brixton, will be creating their own special drink of nettle and ginger beer, complete with unique labels to launch at Brixton Cornercopia, in Brixton Village, a corner shop with a difference, selling locally made preserves and serving lunches made mostly with market-sourced or locally grown and sometimes foraged ingredients. 

    The young people, aged 7 – 13 will first forage for nettles in surrounding green spaces with wild food artist Ceri Buck from the Invisible Food project, they will make their own version of nettle and ginger beer and while it’s left to brew over the half term week, they’ll be creating their own labels before a bottling and tasting session at Grove Adventure Playground on the Friday 4th June and a launch at Brixton Cornercopia on Saturday 5th June.

    Play is at the heart of the project, which links in with Grove Adventure Playground’s practice of promoting play and increasing opportunities for play for young people in a disadvantaged area of Brixton. Searching for wild food is akin to a treasure hunt, you never know what plant you’ll find, and they twurn up in the most unexpected places. The walks are an opportunity to play and be outdoors in all weathers.  Tanya Diedrick from Grove Adventure Playground said “(Making things with wild food) is like having a tea party but it’s real. Instead of empty plastic cups, they played with real produce, tasting teas, running around with the jams they’d made.”

    The young people will learn to identify and pick nettles safely, they will discuss how to make ginger beer and nettle beer and make their own fusion of the two drinks, parents will be encouraged to share their own Caribbean culinary heritage. The young people will draw and write about the process and make a unique label for the bottled drink; Anne Fairbrother from Brixton Cornercopia will give some tips on what information to include in the label. The young people will also self-organise in the project and take control of the decision making process necessary for this small scale collaborative production.

    Invisible Food and Grove Adventure Playground collaborated in 2009 making local blackberry jam and wild herb vege burgers. This year they have joined forces with Brixton Cornercopia, so the young people have the opportunity to launch their drink over a busy lunchtime in the café and see members of the public tasting it. This project is part of a wider project, The London Salad: A Wild Food community resource project, in which Invisible Food will be working with a range of community groups to research new and original ways of cooking the wild plants in London that reflect the social and ethnic diversity of local residents.

    Aims of workshops:

    • to enable young people from Grove Adventure Playground to identify and make a soft drink with nettles and ginger
    • to increase awareness of local natural environment
    • to encourage discussion of Caribbean culinary heritage (ginger beer) which will be a catalyst for parental involvement in the project
    • to raise awareness of safety issues when gathering wild food, food hygiene and healthy eating
    • to draw and write about the plants and the process of making the nettle and ginger beer,
    • to encourage creative design skills in designing labels for the bottles
    • to enable young people to self organise and take control of the decision making process
    • to empower young people through new knowledge, self expression and their creative involvement in producing the nettle and ginger beer
    • to create a launch of the nettle and ginger beer at Brixton Cornercopia, inviting family and friends

     

    • For more information about the project or Invisible Food, please contact

    Ceri Buck on 07963 446605 or invisiblefood@gmail.com

    http://www.lambethbandofsolidarity.wordpress.com 

    • For more information about Grove Adventure Playground groveadventureplay@yahoo.com

    http://www.lambethplayassociation.co.uk

    • Brixton Cornercopia is located at no.65 Brixton Village Market, at the junction

    of Coldharbour lane and Atlantic Road.  Weekly menus and other updates can be found here http://www.brixtoncornercopia.ning.com

    To reserve a table for lunch on Saturday 5th June: brixtoncornercopia@googlemail.com

     

    Invisible Food has previously received funding from Artangel and Lambeth Council

    Wild food walk around the green spaces of Loughborough area of Brixton to forage for our lunch!

    Last month we had stuffed nettle leaves and horseradish leaf potato mash.

    Come prepared to enjoy yourself and join in. Walks are accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Bring suitable clothes and some food to share at the end. (Savoury things will be good this month as our main dish will be sweet).

    Segen Ghebrekidan will be conducting another Eritrean coffee ceremony. See here for photos of the last one. http://lambethbandofsolidarity.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/eritrean-bread-and-goosegrass-curry-saturday-20th-february-2010/
    (you’ll need to copy and paste the link)

    We’ll be attempting to make some nettle twine. Look here for some instructions and you could try some in the week until then and bring it along.

    http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-6429.html

    http://hennockhouse.blogspot.com/2009/08/nettle-string-making.html

    Please note: we’ll be leaving the centre around 12pm and won’t be back again until 1.30 ish. Please arrive promptly for 11.45 or slightly before so we can do registration and move off at 12pm

    —-&——-&——–&——–&————-&

    The aim of Invisible Food is to strengthen social cohesion in disadvantaged areas throughout Lambeth, and specifically in the Coldharbour ward, through engaging with the natural environment. Invisible Food walks and workshops aim to increase opportunities for local residents to contribute their environmental, botanical and culintary knowledge and experience as part of a reskilling process towards a low carbon future.

    Invisible Food organises wild food walks, cooking sessions and creative workshops (including drawing, writing, mapmaking and traditional crafts) as opportunities for sharing experience and strengthening communities.

    These photos were taken by Luschka van Onselen, check out more here.

    www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=426993&id=730600233&l=92e9c44e14

     www.diaryofafirstchild.com

     

    All the parts of the plant can be used

    It’s fiddly and time consuming.

    It helps to stamp on the stems to really break them up

    Stamp on the stems to break them up then open them up at the notches on the stem

    It’s difficult to remove the pith from the fibers and the first time I did it, I wasn’t really removing the pith, just destroying the fibers. This is a skilled task.

    The nodes where the branches grow from provide tough obstacles to tearing the fibers once you’ve removed the pith. However, these are good places to start digging out the pith.

    Discard the pith onto the compost. I plan to make paper with the discarded lower leaves (top leaves are for soup). Not sure if the pith could go into the pot for the paper.

    Stems on the left for making twine, nettle tops in the container for making soup, lower leaves on the right for making paper

    It’s difficult to tear the fibers so you get long ones. Still need practice on this.

    Am wondering if it’s possible to weave the fibers (once I get enough) into Jamaican woven fish, normally made from palm fronds which are much wider.

    The Jamaican woven fish activity is from this book, borrowed from Minet Library

    These were our attempts in the May walk.

    Photo by Luschka

    Photo by Luschka

    Then in June, we spotted this plant. Ramya had given us the challenge to find a plant to create a plate we could eat from. This one got us talking.

    So we picked a few fronds and had a go.

    Brenda's hands. She managed to make a necklace in the end.

    What else could be made?

    Written by Nikki on her blog

    North/South Food (Looking for the Perfect Eat) which is a personal, passionate and sometimes irreverent journal run by a brother and sister living in different parts of the country. We aim to convey the discoveries, delights and excitement of food and drink in our respective worlds. Visit the site for Nikki’s excellent photos on the stuffing process

    http://northsouthfood.com/?p=885

    I have been attending the fascinating Invisible Food Walks around the Loughborough Estate in Lambeth for the past few months and learning what a wealth of foods can be foraged even in this urban environment…

    Run by the very friendly and ever welcoming Ceri Buck, these walks aim to encourage, educate and enlighten local people as to what plants and sources of food can be found even in the heart of Brixton if you know where to look. They run on the third Saturday of each month and involve foraging and exploring in the surrounding area before preparing the gathered food to share amongst the group.

    The late winter walks have been interesting in themselves, but the glorious warm weather of April have brought a new dimension to the walks and the surroundings. Bathed in sunshine, free of the harsh elements of the past winter, new shoots and leaves are unfurling everywhere you look and it feels like everything is coming back to life. That alone promised to make it a special meal, but when Ceri announced we would be having mashed potatoes with horseradish leaves and stuffed nettle leaves, I knew it would be great!

    After checking in on the community herb garden in Angell Town estate and gathering some chickweed and dandelion shoots for a salad, we took  a leisurely stroll in the sun to Ruskin Park to collect some young tender horseradish leaves near the tennis courts. After amusing the tennis players, we headed back to the community centre with our spoils to get cooking.

    My Irish expertise was called into action and I was put in charge of the spuds. Luckily I had a few helpers and we easily got a mountain of potatoes peeled, chopped and onto the wood pellet burning stove within about 15 minutes. This gave plenty of time to watch how the stuffed nettle leaves were to be prepared.

    Ceri had carefully (with gloves) picked some of the larger lower leaves from nettle plants near the Minet Library and these were boiled lightly in water for 5-7 minutes to soften and cook the slightly rough texture out of the leaves, before spreading them out flat and allowing them to cool enough to handle. They were to be stuffed with a delicious looking whole oat groat stuffing that had been prepared the night before. We added some fresh wild or three cornered leek for an allium edge at the last minute and then got stuffing!

    Nettle leaves are quite small and heart shaped so need rolled nice and tightly to hold their shape. It was tempting to over stuff because we had all sampled the oat stuffing at this point and it was delicious, but in order to get neatly shaped parcels, it required restraint. The idea is not to produce something as epic as a stuffed vine leaf, but more like a little morsel of loveliness that is just a delicious mouthful.

    The nettle leaves were surprisingly quick and easy to make and as soon as they were finished, it was time to turn attention to the potatoes. Ceri’s little wood burning stove packs quite a punch. Both pans of potatoes were perfectly cooked in around 20 minutes, with a comforting hint of woodsmoke to boot. The horseradish leaves and stems were finely chopped with a mezzeluna and once the spuds had been ably mashed by my good self, the chopped horseradish was added and mixed through well. A splash of warmed milk and some seasoning completed this simple dish.

    Both dishes made a delicious accompaniment to a table groaning with food the others had brought to share. The nettle leaves were earthy, like a really fresh spinach. The slightly rough hairy texture of the leaf as you bite in contrasts perfectly with the slick yielding oaty stuffing with its oniony edge. They were enhanced by a wonderful home made onion jam on the buffet table. I adored these and could have eaten the whole plateful. Others seemed slightly less convinced by the tickly texture and left a few extra for me to steal!

    The horseradish mash was a revelation. I don’t like the seemingly ferocious heat of horseradish and dread it arriving with roast beef or as eye poppingly hot wasabi on the side of sushi or sashimi. I had not enjoyed the bite of fresh horseradish stem earlier in the park and I was hoping that having mashed the potato, I could avoid eating it. No such luck. My plate found a good big spoonful on it and I was delighted to find that the creaminess of the mash tempered the heat of the horseradish, leaving a delicious light peppery aftertaste instead of a shocking heat. It was sensational and I happily cleared my plate!

    I thoroughly recommend trying either dish if you fancy a spot of foraging near you. Both are simple yet delicious, low in food miles and bursting with freshness. Both dishes would be enhanced by a bit of wild garlic which is right in season at the moment. Foraging is a wonderful way to open your eyes to your surroundings and add some new distinctive tastes to your diet. I will be keeping a pair of gardening gloves in my bag from now on so I can pick nettles any time for this lovely sounding nettle rabbit by Nigel Slater in yesterday’s Observer Magazine. They also make a flavoursome hangover-busting soup with a hint of ginger that will be perfect if you over do the Pimms this summer!

    Knowing what to look for a walk around the park (foraging is always best away from busy roads or areas with a lot of dogs) makes you more aware of the seasons and your surroundings. It also makes gardening much more fun when you realise that pesky chickweed or goosegrass in your flower beds that you thought was a weed actually makes a delicious stir fry or salad. Do try and find a foraging walk in your area or perhaps invest in a book on edible plants and herbs and discover how much fun eating your greens can be!

    This was a fantastic event organised by Judy, James, Saleem, Valerie, Philippa, Amina and others at BEN. It was amazing to realise that there are people within the National Trust doing cutting edge community work (see Wightwick Manor’s Caribbean Herbal publication) and this Sacred Quran publication

    I particularly enjoyed Shilpa Sihah’s presentation on Friends of the Earth’s work around the world and Miles Sibley’s reflective and evaluative approach  to working in the community at BTCV. Segen and I had fun talking about Invisible Food and the opportunity to feedback on the Rainbow training which we participated in during January and February 2010.  See our presentation Invisible Food presentation

    “Showcasing Environmental Opportunities and

    Innovative Ethnic Minority Projects”

     

    BEN 2010 Networking Conference and AGM

    London 14th April 2010

    At The Oasis Centre, 75 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7HS

     

     

     

     

     

    The aim of the Networking Conference:

    • To showcase the range of environmental opportunities available in order to increase access by ethnic minority communities
    • To showcase innovative Ethnic Minority Projects, integrating social, cultural, economic and environmental themes, in order to share ideas and inspire action
    • To facilitate networking for mutual support

     

    Programme

    9.30–10.00      Registration, Networking and Coffee

    10.00-10.10          The BEN Rainbow Training Programme. Judy Ling Wong CBE

    10.10-11.10Presentations (10 minutes each) by environmental organisations and            members of ethnic minority communities

    1. Forestry Commission – Jim Smith – Wonderful woodlands on the urban fringe and further afield offer energetic outdoor activities, quiet recreation, environmental education including Forest Schools.

    2. Transition Towns  – Catrina Pickering – supporting villages, towns and cities across the globe to respond as communities to the pressures of climate change, fossil fuel depletion and increasingly, economic contraction.

    3. Environmental Law Foundation – Emma Montlake – The work of ELF, including the Sustainable Communities Programme, and the support and advice available to local communities.

    4. National Trust – Glenis Williams, Joyce Wallace – The Whose Story? project has worked to highlight previously untold stories, hidden histories, and cultural heritage links. Working with BME communities to develop new ways of bringing NT properties in the West Midlands.

    5. Friends of the Earth –  Shilpa SihahWhat are environmental rights and justice, and how FoE are working with communities to get access to them This will include community stories and details about how you can get involved. 

    6. BTCV – Miles Sibley – the largest environmental volunteering organisation in Europe, supports practical projects in urban and rural settings, responding to the wishes and needs of the people they involve.

    11.15-11.30     Tea

    11.30-12.30          Panel Discussion – Time for your Questions 

     

    12.30-14.00     Networking Time, Market Place, and Lunch

     

    13.20-13.40     Rainbow Training Workshop – Twenty-minute workshop covering                      the details of the Rainbow Training Programme 

     

    14.00-15.00     Presentations (10 minutes each) by environmental organisations and                   members of ethnic minority communities

    1. Sports Council Walkleader Programme and Working with Ethnic Minorities in the Countryside – Philippa Owen BEN Development Worker  – running a Sports Council Walkleader Programme for the Chinese community, and engaging with new ethnic groups such as the Polish in a rural and semi-rural setting.

    2. Invisible Food Project and Rainbow Training Programme - Ceri Buck and Segen Ghebrekidan – sharing the Invisible Food Project and talking about her experience with the BEN Rainbow Training Programme and what they got out of it for the future.

    3. The Onion Shed and the Rainbow Training Programme – Ann Bodkin and Saxa Warsop  – The Onion Shed, a new local project focusing on food growing, and the impact of her experience of the Rainbow Training Programme.

    4. BEN Bike Recycling Project – Amina Ali BEN Development Worker – a project that refurbishes bikes, teaches local people the skills to maintain bikes, and by providing free transport opens up a different range of opportunities in the local area and further afield.

    5. Get Walking Keep Walking – Carole O’Leary – A Rambler’s Association project aimed at helping people, especially in big cities, improve their health and well-being by walking regularly and locally.

     

    6. Circle Of Life Rediscovery – Marina Robb – eco-sessions, woodland days, programmes, camps and youth trainings for young people. Marina will also talk about their work with the Traveller community.  

    15.00-15.15          BEN AGM     

     

    15.15-15.30     Tea and Coffee

     

    15.30-16.30     Panel Discussion. Time for your questions

     

    16.30-17.00     Networking and Close

    Judy talks powerfully and eloquently about living in a multicultural society and the importance of access for all to the environment.

    You can download some of BEN’s publications, including Judy’s writing here:  http://www.ben-network.org.uk/resources/publs.asp

    http://www.ben-network.org.uk/

     

    The day started like this, at Reculver

    and ended like this, at Reculver, with a lot of foraging in between

     

    The weirdest thing we ate that day was the japanese knotweed, we make it into a crumble with custard but see other recipes below that Stefan from the community greenhouses forward to me.

    http://shizuokagourmet.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/sansaimountain-vegetable-recipe-itadorijapanese-knotwee/

    Sansai/Mountain vegetable Recipe: Itadori/Japanese Knotweed

    The Sansai/Mountain Vegetable season has started for good in Japan and might be around the corner in many parts of the world, but many people are still wondering how to prepare and eat them.

    Here is a simple explanation of how the Japanese do it with some of them.
    I’ll try to research for more in the near future.

    ITADORI/JAPANESE KNOTWEED

    Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica, syn. Polygonum cuspidatum, Reynoutria japonica) is a large, herbaceous perennial plant, native to eastern Asia in Japan, China and Korea. In North America and Europe the species is very successful and has been classified as invasive in several countries. About time to eat it, then!

    Closely related species include giant knotweed (Fallopia sachalinensis, syn. Polygonum sachalinense) and Russian vine (Fallopia baldschuanica, syn. Polygonum aubertii, Polygonum baldschuanicum).

    Other English names for Japanese knotweed include fleeceflower, Himalayan fleece vine, monkeyweed, Huzhang (Chinese: 虎杖; pinyin: Hǔzhàng), Hancock’s curse, elephant ears, pea shooters, donkey rhubarb (although it is not a rhubarb), sally rhubarb, Japanese bamboo, American bamboo, and Mexican bamboo (though it is not a bamboo). There are also regional names, and it is sometimes confused with sorrel.

    In Japanese, the name is itadori (虎杖, イタドリ).

    Japanese knotweed flowers are valued by some beekeepers as an important source of nectar for honeybees, at a time of year when little else is flowering. Japanese knotweed yields a monofloral honey, usually called bamboo honey by northeastern U.S. beekeepers, like a mild-flavored version of buckwheat honey (a related plant also in the Polygonaceae).

    The young stems are edible as a spring vegetable, with a flavor similar to mild rhubarb. In some locations, semi-cultivating Japanese knotweed for food has been used as a means of controlling knotweed populations that invade sensitive wetland areas and drive out the native vegetation.

    RECIPE:

    Peel the knotweed from the root (easier this way). Peel all the skin!

    Boil the knotweed. If you have a lot of them, proceed in batches.

    Once the knotweed colour has turned from deep green to “tea green”, the boiling should be enough. It would take up to 2 minutes for items of the thickness shown on the above picture.
    Note that that if the deep-green colour hasn’t sufficiently gone, the knotweed will be acid in taste.

    Now as soon as you attained the right colour, scoop knotweed out or over cooking will result in the plant breaking up. Very important!

    Transfer immediately into chilled water. Leave it there for a whole night and you will be able to get rid of astrigency and unwanted matters.

    Next morning drain, cleanse under cold running water and drain thoroughly.
    It can be preserved inside the fridge for quite some time inside a tupperware box.
    If you have a lot you can always make salty pickles of them.
    If you do so, just put them inside a tightly closed tupperware box with a good measure of salt. Wash them with plenty of water before consuming them.

    Freshly boiled, they can be eaten as they are with mayonnaise, or a simple dressing for vegans and vegetarians. A little chili pepper is fine, too!

    Simple recipe 1:
    Two large knotweed (boiled and prepared as above).
    Japanese sake: 1/2 tablespoon
    Water: 1/2 tablespoon
    Mirin/sweet Japanese sake: 1 tablespoon
    Men tsuyu/vegan dashi: 1/2 tablespoon
    Gently simmer the whole together for a little while.
    Try and serve together with other boiled vegetables!

    Simple recipe 2:
    Two large knotweed (boiled and prepared as above).
    Aburaage (fried tofu sheet): 1/2
    Cut the aburaage into fine strips and fry them quickly with knotweeed.
    Add Mirin/sweet sake (1 tablespoon), men tsuyu or vegan dashi (a little less than a tablespoon) while frying. Finish with withsome sesame oil and eat at once!
    Great with beer or sake!

    Uropean/American style cuisine suggestion:

    Itadori/Japanese knotweeed in tomato sauce!
     

    Notes from the day, kindly forwarded by another course participant

     

     Seaweeds

     

    600-700 seaweeds in UK

    North Kent, very few

    Today maybe 5-7 types, maybe dulse (delicious)

    Brown (e.g. kelp), green (further up shore), red (mid-shore)

    95% of rocks

    99% edible, but few any good to eat!

    35 species recorded as eaten in 18thc

    He’s eaten 100

    Many are edible but not tasty

    Problems of e.coli  and contaminants: cook it well, make sure clean beach

    You can dry seaweed to improve safety

    Look at strand line: sand hoppers (insects, edible). You can see full extent of seaweeds available.

    If rocks are really green, probably a lot of sewage.


     

    SEA SHORE: Seaweeds

    1. Laver (Porphyra umbilicalis); Looks like nori, lavebread, it regenerates from fragments.

    2. Serrated Wrack (Fucus serratus);

    3. Bladder Wrack (Fucus vesiculosus); further up the shore

    4. Gutweed (Ulva intestinalis), and other species;

    5. Sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca);

    6. Carragheen (Chondrus crispus); polysaccharide, salad dressing, carragheen binds with water, coats food, same as E406

    7. Gracilariopsis longissima; Gracilaria gracilis is shorter and branchier. Lots on North Kent coast, likes sandy muddy

    SEA SHORE: Plants

     

    8. Hoary Cress (Cardaria draba); Thanet Cress. Brassicaceae family.

    9. Buck’s Horn plantain; early spring. “barba di rate”. Plantago.

    10. Ribwort plantain; in waste ground, smooth leaves. All plantains are edible.

    11. Common Thistle or Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare). Edible. Root is ediblt but contains inulin (makes you fart). All is edible, but there are small bristles on leaves. Purple flower.

    12. Sea Purslane (Halimione portulacoides). Salty flavor inside leaf. In summer leaves are a lot bigger and wider (but flatter).

    13. Common Daisy (Bellis perennis); leaves are ok. High in vitamins.

    14. Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris); in salad raw. Purple flowers in salad. Seeds can be fried.

    15. Pink Sorrel (Oxalis articulate); pink flowers, hairy leaves.

    16. Chickweed (Stellaria media); found in damp streams, grass, near compost. Very common. Similar to Scarlet Pimpernel flower, which never covers lots of space. BUT: it has a white flower, no square stem, hair on one side (or two) and an elastic central vein.

    Also Large Chickweed and Water Chickweed.

    17. Sea Beet (Vulgaris maritima); a kind of wild spinach.

    18. Bristly Ox-Tongue (Picris Echioides); white dots on leaves and little bristles.

    19. Sow Thistle (Sonchus oleraceus);

    20. Scot’s Pine (Pinus sylvestris); use needles in tea. 

    21. Figs; surprisingly common, pickle the hard ones in jam or candied. Careful with latex sap.

    22. Red Valerian (Centrathus ruber); not the same as the sleepy tree root (but same family). Smooth leaf, eat before budding, red/white flower. Grows on walls with purple flower. Slightly bitter.

    23. Pellitory-of-the-Wall (Parietaria judaica); likes to grow in walls. Red/lilac stems. Common in urban environments. Hairy lilac stem. In the nettle family.

    24. Goji Berries, Box Thorn (Lycium barbarum); fruits in June/July but birds eat most of it. Solanaceae family. Identifiable because individual berries grow on stems.

    25. Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum); celery type plant. Has Zebra roots which taste like an intense carrot, which are edible raw, grated, fried, pickled. The stem can also be eaten. It has little cauliflowers!


     

    STREAM/SALT-MARSH

     

    26. Dittander (Lepidium latifolium); looks like horseradish leaf. Clusters of tiny little white flowers. Salt marsh plant, likes brakish water or tidal stream. Common in South East. Used to be used thinking it could heal leprosy.

    27. Crow Garlic or Wild Onion (Allium vineale); rounded stem.

    28. Stinging Nettle (Urtica procera); contains iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin C. Can be used to make nettle soup, beer, and nettle curd (plant leaf curd).

    29. White Whorehound (Marrubium vulgare); make tea for cough. Has square stems, opposite leaves, and looks like nettle.

    30. White Dead Nettle (Lamium album); mint family. Edible leaves and flowers. 

    31. Red Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum); mint family, square stem, use flowers mostly.

    32. White Stone Crop (Sedum forsterianum); stone crop family, sedative, oxalic acid. Best to pickle it.

    33. Shephard’s Purse (Capsella bursa pastoris); white flowers, seed pods. Substantial flavor.

    34. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale); root for coffee. Calyx can be eaten, before the flowers open.  Stem as a vegetable (like noodles, soak in water with lemon juice). Leaves  also edible.

    RIVER/URBAN WASTE-LAND

    35. Hairy Bitter Cress (Cardamine hirsute); similar to large leaf bitter cress.

    36. Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana); common in wasteland. roots and leaves eaten raw/cooked.

    37. Lesser Burdock (Arctium minus); white on back of leaf. Called Gobo in Japan and cultivated. Produces burrs (seed pods) hence name. Root is high in inulin (not as high as spear thistle). Central stem starts off thick. Peel stem and eat raw, cook root like potatoe. Very cleansing.

    38. Goosegrass (Gallium aparine); square stem. Starts appearing in November. Puree tender stem/leaves in soups and vegetables. Seeds can be collected in June by walking through and pulling seeds off clothes, then roasting in a pan.

    39. Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum japonicum); grows 3cm a day, invasive species, illegal to spread. Recognisable from old canes. Tastes like rhubarb. Has lots of Calcium Oxalate. Good in crumble!

    40. Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria); semi-shade plant, with triangular stem. Leaves in 3s. Member of carrot family (Umbelliferae). Similar to Elder tree (which is TOXIC) but this has round stem.

    41.  Common Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium); Carrot family. Edible after cooking but strong flavour, eat mostly young shoots.

    42. Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris); member of carrot family, with triangular stem and downy hairs. Can be confused with: Fools Parsley (which has smooth stem); Rough Chervil (which has more hairs, similar to nettle); and with Hemlock (which is poisonous, has red stem which is blotchy and rounded).

    43. Dock (Rumex obtusifolius); many kinds of dock. High in oxalic acid. Best to quickly boil/blanch them. Can be used to wrap rice, like a vine leaf.  

    44. Dog Violet (Viola canina); similar to garlic mustard, but leaf is serrated more inwards.

    45. Garlic Mustard or ‘Jack by the Hedge’ (Alliaria petiolata); semi-shaded, sometimes full sun, not found in dry soil. Raw or cooked, made into pesto. Roots instead of pine nuts. Little bristles on stem. It wilts really fast. Good trick for this: put in plastic bag and sprinkle with water.

    46. Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus); sprouting leaf clusters can be eaten (boil and fry after one change of water) or dried for tea.

    47. Cuckoo Flower or Ladies Smock (Cardamine pratensis).

    48. Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria); has yellow flowers, toxic once it has flowers.

    WOODLAND

    49. Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis); poisonous. Often grows neat Wild Garlic. Had flowers on long stems.

    50. Cuckoo Pint or ‘Lords and Ladies’ or ‘Jack in the Pulpit’ (Arum maculatum); looks like common sorrel. Roots have small nodules of potatoes. These can be collected, crushed, washed in river for weeks or in water many times, then dried and ground to flour. TOXIC if confused with sorrel BUT: leaves have veins that run parallel to the outside circumference, sorrel does not.

    51. Jew’s Ears or Wood Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae); similar to Witch’s Butter, which is more jelly-like and darker. Usually grows on Elder trees, rotting. Witch’s Butter usually grows on Ash, but can grow on Elder.

    52. Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus);

    53. Golden Saxifrage (Chrysoplenium oppositifolium); yellow flowers, small light leaves.

    54. Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum); damp/old wood land, it can sometimes be the dominant ground cover. Good in pesto, or in salads. Can make leaf curd from this, or anything with at least 6% protein. 12 kg of wild garlic for 1 kg of leaf curd!

    55. Birch (genus Betula); tapping sap from last week of February to mid April. Good if it runs at 5-6 drops a second. Can tap Birch, lime, Walnut. Drill hole by hand a few cm deep, then use pipe and gallon bottle to collect sap. Over 2-3 days can collect 5 litres. Make Birch sap wine: 5 litres of sap, 1kg of sugar, lemon juice and wine yeast. Let bubble away for a few days, then move to airlock. Can replace sugar with honey to make birch sap mead. 80/120 litres of sap for 1 litre of syrup. Compared to 30 litres of maple sap to 1 litres of maple syrup.

    56. Birch polypore mushrooms; can be used to sharpen knifes (once dry), or pulp fresh ones into paper.

    57. Ground Ivy or Ale-Hoof (Glechoma hederacea); square stem, aromatic, can be used as hop substitute, or raw in salad. Has little purple flowers, and grow along the ground.

    58. Giant Puff Ball (Calvatia gigantea); edible if it is all white inside, not good if it has yellow inside (makes you ill).

    59. Stag’s Horn Sumac (Rhus typhina); common, grows in gardens. Fruit is very sour but seeds can be briefly soaked in water to extract flavour.

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