Strawberry Knotweed Popsicles
Healcrest Urban Farm helps us learn to love this invasive weed with one of the most unexpected and best popsicles you’ll ever taste.
Photos by Leah Lizarondo
I know I just posted the 2-minute ice cream bowl of amazingness last week, but I am front-loading your hot weather options so that you have ample time to prepare when the mercury rises past 90. See? I’m here for you.
I have been obsessed with Healcrest Urban Farms’ Tea Pops for a very long time now. Every time I go to street festivals and outdoor events, I scope out the vendors to see if I can spot them and make a beeline. Made with tea, herbs and fresh fruit, they are the only popsicles that I never think twice about giving to my kids.
Check out some of the killer flavors:
Roasted Peach + Lavender
Sweet Corn and Summer Herbs
Black Mintea Fudge
Pear + Lilac Cream
Apricot + Sage Blossom
The list goes on and the unexpected pairings are such a delight. They’re grown-up popsicles that everyone will love.
Strawberry Knotweed is my absolute favorite flavor, primarily because it uses that invasive weed that is taking over the region. I have been researching knotweed for a long time because once it starts growing, it is very difficult to prevent it from spreading. However, it is interesting to me because knotweed is extremely nutritious.
Say what? YES. It's true. Knotweed is nutritious.
Knotweed can be harvested for consumption in the early spring from April to May – it’s best to harvest when the shoots reach about 8 inches tall. It is tart like rhubarb and can be juiced raw or cooked.
Here’s the kicker: it’s rich in resveratrol, the same antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes (your excuse to drink more red wine) that lowers LDL cholesterol. In fact, it’s sold in supplement form in Japan and other Asian countries. What’s more, some research is showing that it may have benefits in easing the symptoms of Lyme disease. And with the prevalence of Lyme disease increasing, it makes me wonder whether nature is giving us a big hint by bringing back knotweed at the same time.
Maria Graziani, founder of Healcrest Urban Farms, started making the Strawberry Knotweed pops because she felt that “We needed a way to ‘be’ with the plant and not constantly be in a negative relationship with it. Though it’s quite possible to grow rhubarb in this region, it seemed a viable alternative to use a more abundant source of tartness in a pop using the knotweed.”
That’s the same attitude that many other regions have. As “Wild Man” Steve Brill writes, “It's so tasty that some municipalities have surrendered and hold annual Japanese knotweed festivals instead.”
Healcrest’s Knotweed Pops are made to taste like a natural strawberry-rhubarb pie filling. Fresh western Pennsylvania strawberries are blended with cooked knotweed and whipped into a tangy pudding.
If you want to try it at home, here is modified recipe for the adventurous locavore. While the prime harvesting season is over, you can bookmark it for when knotweed starts to spring up again. In the meantime, you can taste Healcrest’s Strawberry Knotweed Pops (and other wonderful flavors) at these retail locations:
Various summer festivals (follow @HealcrestUFarms for updates).
Find Tea Pops at the Bloomfield Farmer’s Market and the Ligonier Farmers Market
On the 4th of July:
Healcrest Pops will be available at the First Friday Garfield Night Market.
Strawberry Knotweed Pops
Makes 10 pops
1 cup washed, ½ in pieces of young knotweed shoots
2 cups of water brought to boil
1 cup of raw organic sugar cane crystals
1 heaping pint of fresh strawberries, de-stemmed and cut in ½
Optional: Fresh lemon juice and zest
1. Bring water to a boil.
2. Add knotweed shoots to boiling water, lower to a simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat, strain knotweed from water and allow cooked shoots to cool for 10 minutes, keep shoots in one bowl and knotweed water in another.
4. Using a hand or pitcher blender, blend fresh strawberries, knotweed shoots and sugar and optional lemon juice/zest. Add in only enough of knotweed water to allow easy blending.
5. Blend to desired smoothness, leaving some of the strawberries and some of the knotweed chunky for a textured pop.
6. After batter is done, pour into ice pop molds, cover, add in sticks and freezer overnight for 8-12 hours! Remove from mold based on manufacturers instructions! Enjoy!