Cooking With invasives: Bishop's Weed "Kale" chips
by libby, July 20, 2021
Week three of CSA and we had a special visitor this week, Beezy! Beezy is the amazing dog Nora is dog sitting who came and chilled with us the whole CSA! People loved meeting and eating some Bishop's weed chips with her. But real talk... lets get into this weeks invasive recipe of Bishop's weed "kale" chips and discuss why we choose to use the name Bishop's weed over goutweed, the communities response, and the traditional medicinal history of the plant!
2 cups of Bishop's weed, or more/ less based on amount wanted
1/4 cup olive oil
Seasoning! salt & pepper, rosemary, paprika, basil, onion, garlic,
anything else you would put on your favorite kale chip recipe!
*All of these measurements are estimates. Adjust to your liking!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Gather and Wash Bishop's weed leaves
Coat with olive oil and seasoning
Cook from 10-15 minutes flipping once half way through
This might just be our easiest recipe yet! Now let me try to convince you why you should go trek and forage for some goutweed as opposed to just using kale.
What is Bishop's weed?
Bishop's weed- more commonly referred to as goutweed (which I will call it for the rest of this post) is a herbaceous perennial rhizomatous plant that is nonnative and invasive in Vermont. Its scientific name is Aegopodium podagraria, and it is in the Apiaceae, or more commonly known as the carrot, family! It goes by many names, one common one being ground elder due to its resemblance to elder flowers and leaves although the two are not closely related and I would go as far to say the flowers resemble its sibling Queen Annes Lace. Goutweed spreads by both their seed and root systems but is able to establish dense impenetrable ground cover fast based on its quick spreading rhizome system. On top of this, it is incredibly shade tolerant so is able to take over closed canopy forest grounds. It's quick spreading ground cover is actually why it was brought over from Europe in 1863, and you still will commonly see it in gardens. However when it takes over it inhibits the growth of most other native plants, including woody trees. This can significantly reduce the ecosystems biodiversity and reduces food and habitat for native species. It is incredibly difficult to manage and we are currently researching different control methods which you can read more about in our other blog posts!
How to Identify:
Goutweed can grow anywhere from 15-40 inches! It os characterized by its dark green leaves are divided into groups of three leaflets with toothed edges and are often irregularly lobed. Can resemble mitten shape. Grows low to the ground and can often find other colored varieties. In midsummer white five-petal flat topped flowers grow on approximately three feet stalks within the foliage. It often grows among stinging nettle patches!
Top left: Goutweed Flower, Top Right: Goutweed patch, Bottom Left: Garden Variety, Bottom Right Goutweed leaves
Why to eat, how to eat:
Goutweed got its name due to its historical role in curing gout. European, Tibetan, and Chinese monks have used this plant medically for ages. Back in time when bishops and monks were eating rich lavish foods, they often developed bad cases of gout- a form of arthritis characterized by severe pain, redness, and tenderness in joints. Cooking and eating goutweed was big in middle age herbalism to counteract this condition. It can be applied externally to joints, wounds, burns, and insect bites in a hot wrap of boiled roots and leaves or as a thick paste. But also can be brewed into a tea or infusion! All parts of plant our diuretic (promotes production of urine), antirheumatic (treats inflammation of joints), sedative (calming & sleep inducing) and vulnerary (heals wounds). It reportedly still helps rheumatism, arthritis, and bladder disorders. In addition it contains methoxsalen, which is a compound that increases skin sensitivity to uv light, applied topically it promotes melanin production and can help with skin conditions like psoriasis and vitiligo. However be warned because it increases the skins sensitivity to ultraviolet light it can increase chances of skin cancer if mistreated! Aside from the medicinal purposes it can be eaten for its delicious flavor! All parts of plant except rhizomes are edible. Leaves can be harvested from early spring to late fall but have best flavor before flowers bloom. But the leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and are commonly used in soups, salads, fillings, or like we recommend cooked chips! To avoid spreading this plant, ensure not to harvest or disturb mature seed pods and do not spread the roots anywhere!!!!
We chose to call the goutweed we cooked up for this week Bishop's Weed as opposed to gout for a few reasons. During last weeks CSA we learned many people were thrown off by the name "Garlic Mustard" and the negative associations they had with it (mostly mustard) and choose not try our pesto because of it (despite its amazing flavor!). Goutweed is well... not the most appealing name. Who wants to think of arthritis and joint pain while eating! We thought a more neutral name like Bishop's weed would be more encouraging for people to try, however I still think the "weed" in the name was unappealing to many. We had less people try the chips this week than in the previous but I too would be more drawn to a tasty baked good like our knotweed crumble than a dried leaf. However the goutweed has such a unique and nutty flavor that those who were brave enough to try it with an open mind loved it! We had more people ask this week how to make the recipe than any other. Something interesting we also noticed is more children were open to try these (surprising!) and loved it then adults. Several kids came back for seconds and thirds. Maybe we can take a page out of their book and try to channel our inner curiosity and cast away our biases. Either why we loved cooking and eating our Bishop's weed chips and are always happy to spend the day outside with dog friends!