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.

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.


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.


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




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



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!




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.


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.


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.