Chutney: the Japanese Knotweed Killer App

This is my third year of doggedly cutting down Japanese knotweed shoots, and I have finally – finally! – found a delicious thing to do with them. Like, delicious enough that I’m trying to find room in my schedule to pick another batch of knotweed before the short season is over.


I’ve never been a big chutney-eater. It’s not that I’ve ever disliked it, I just never got in the habit. Having a bunch of used-once jars go bad in the fridge has provided some powerful negative reinforcement, keeping me in a low-condiment equilibrium.

That might change. This shit is amazing. Also, I’ve been eating more Protein Slab sorts of dinners lately (my body seems to like it when I eat protein) so there is a newly open niche in my cooking. Also also, my half-assed random spice combination worked brilliantly, which means either I am a genius or there is a generous and forgiving range of spice combinations that will taste delicious as knotweed chutney.

I cribbed the general concept from some folks at McGill. Toast your spices (mustard seed, peppercorns, cloves, I had some fenugreek, red pepper flakes, etc.) in a little bit of oil. When they’re fragrant, toss in a bit of salt and an onion; caramelize the onion. Add a bunch of knotweed, a cup of vinegar, a cup of sugar. Cook down. It’ll taste like the spice mix more than anything else, but the fruity oxalic tang of the knotweed is an excellent complement.

If you slice the knotweed crosswise into thin rings, you don’t need to worry about peeling it. The fibers will still be there but if they’re cut short enough it doesn’t matter. Peeling is annoying and roughage is good for your colon.

The one drawback is that the chutney, like many other forms of cooked knotweed, is a strikingly unpleasant shade of baby poo yellow. I’m not sure how to fix that – adding turmeric only made it worse. Maybe a beet? Or eating in a darkened room?


  1. erica wrote:

    Also like. “Low-condiment equilibrium,” tee hee. I don’t think the Japanese knotweed grows out here. I’m curious about it after your entries.

  2. erica wrote:

    It does grow here, just a couple thousand feet lower than where I live. Japanese knotweed, and giant knotweed. My friend B makes pickles with the young stalks.

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