Thanks for joining us, Stephen. I, too, am looking forward to reading your book.
I watched the video Burra posted on your Arctic talk and was astounded to hear you mention eating hogweed. I just need some clarification since the hogweed I know is a federally listed noxious weed and the counties around me are doing their darndest to eliminate it. Are we both talking about the same plant? Heracleum mantegazzianum. Also known as giant hogweed. Wikipedia says there are about 60 different species of Heracleum. I had also heard the seeds had a culinary use. I personally have been burnt by the mature plant but I notice you mentioned eating the young shoots. Do I have a new food source? How do you prepare it? Sounding as if this may be one of those cases of really knowing how to identify your plants. I hear water hemlock looks very similar and is deadly.
Furthering Permaculture next to Lake Ontario.
Yes, Heracleum species and yes, you MUST be absolutely sure which plant you have before eating it!! In Norway, we have a giant hogweed which is very slightly different from H. mantegazzianum. It has invaded the arctic city Tromso at near to 70 deg N...it looks totally out of place there... For many years botanists couldn't decide which species it was or whether it was a hybrid, but about 3 years ago they decided it was H. persicum (difficult even for botanists to tell apart from mantegazzianum which is also found here). At about the same time I had a group visiting my garden including an Iranian woman and seeing I was growing other Heracleum species proceeded to tell us that she collected seed of H. persicum locally every autumn as a spice and that in Iran they even use the young shoots as breakfast food! All were astounded....the following year two of us tried it and very good it was too like other Heracleums.... So, yes, I would be surprised if H. mantegazianum couldn't be used similarly....ordinary people couldn't tell the difference. Ironically, Iranian shops in Norway were importing seed of this "invasive" unwanted and according to the authorities poisonous plant - and, yes, you really have to be careful handling this plant as you can be severely burned by the combination of plant juices in sunlight! Much more about the Hogweeds in the book, probably the most important genus of plants traditionally use for food!
Tromso Palm (as it's called) in Tromso:
So, instead of Rounduping the plants, they should be harvesting the shoots, lactofermenting into hogweedkraut as the Russians traditionally preserved it and, if Americans won't eat it, send it to Russia ...
Careful when playing with hogweed, especially children. Common hogweed (spondylium) can be phytophototoxic - it's juices on your skin can burn and itch if exposed to light. Giant Hogweed is worse, but the common hogweed should also be handled with care, especially for people with sensitive or thin skin like children. I've had a mild irritation once, when foraging new shoots (they're delicious tossed in coconut oil then simmered in a little water for 5 or 10 mins).
The seeds / fruit are crazy to munch. Just one is enough for a hot and spicy experience. They're fibrous so best spat out after chewing. These are also burning, they make my tongue tingle!
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