Pickled Japanese Knotweed
I like Japanese knotweed shoots okay, but I still haven’t found the treatment that will make me love them. I keep trying, because it’s invasive and evil and so easy to pick. I want to love it. I’m going to figure out how to love it, dammit! It just hasn’t quite happened yet.
Last year’s rhubarb-inspired jam (and by “jam” I mean “sauce” because it didn’t set) was tasty, but it wasn’t quite tasty enough to overcome the fact that it looked like baby poo. I tried it on pancakes and just couldn’t do it. So I’ve been using up my knotweed sauce as a substitute for applesauce in baked goods. My third batch of this applesauce bread recipe is in the machine right now, with a cup or so of chopped fresh knotweed. The bread is good, but not great.
This year I’m trying pickles. I did two batches of brine: One was a basic white vinegar with salt and sugar for canning, the other rice vinegar with salt & sugar for fridge pickles (rice vinegar is not quite acidic enough to safely can without a pressure canner). The jars with the rice vinegar also got some sesame seeds; the jars with the white vinegar got either a red & black pepper combo, or a dessert-y spice mix of ginger, orange peel, cardamom, and angelica.
Pro tip for all y’alls: Canning things safely means cooking them, and cooking Japanese knotweed makes it mushy! So, uh, now I’m going to need to find uses for mushy pickles. I think maybe a relish for pork.
The rice vinegar fridge pickles came out rather well! They’re crunchy, and a little bit stringy since I cut the knotweed lengthwise and didn’t peel it; next time I will cut little rings. The flavor is very mild, which is okay, but I might try for something more compelling with the spicing next time.
I also did a couple batches of fridge pickles with the white vinegar brine and dessert spices. These are disappointing. Underneath all the sour, of which there is more than plenty, they’re bitter. I’m not sure how to describe the unpleasant component of the flavor other than to say it tastes like the salt is mad at me. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope it mellows out after sitting in the fridge for a few more weeks.