Citizen Invasivore: Your Recipes

Invaders––we didn’t stop them at the gates. Can we stop them at our plates?

We need your help! To win the fight against invaders, we are looking for invasive species recipes and suggestions from around the country (and the world). Submit your invasivore recipes, suggestions, and ideas here.

    { 17 comments… read them below or add one }

    Mason Dean July 29, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Dear Dr. Roman,

    I’m an American biologist working in Germany studying skeletal biology. I’m working on a project with a collaborator in Israel, Dr. Ron Shahar, examining properties of bones from multiple taxonomic groups. We have a huge dataset collected from literature values on material properties, mineral content and porosity and are hoping to pair it with some mechanical and mineral content testing of bones from different taxa machined down to beams of the same size.

    I’ve had a particularly hard time getting samples from large amphibians. Bullfrogs and marine toads should be large enough for our work (in order to machine the bones to adequate beam sizes, we need long bones with diaphysis of at least 2cm in length, cortical thickness of at least 0.8-1.0mm).

    I would imagine, given the invasive nature of both of these species, that there would have to be researchers/groups who would LOVE to give me some amphibian leg bones! However, all the researchers I know who work on frogs and toads either destroy their samples during testing or store them in ways that would alter mechanical properties. Would you happen to know of anyone who could help me get leg bones from approximately 8-10 individuals per species? Samples could simply be frozen wrapped in saline-soaked gauze and shipped to Israel (we would, of course, arrange shipping costs, etc.). I’d appreciate any ideas you have!

    Thanks a lot for your help!
    Mason
    mason.dean@mpikg.mpg.de

    Reply

    Nick Faustman July 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I’m completely supportive of the eat-the-invaders philosophy and want to do my part as an invasivore, particularly with the meats. Problem is that I cannot find sources for even the most well-known invasive species like nutria, Asian carp, feral hog, snakehead, etc.

    Living in eastern Nebraska, we hardly hear about these species, but I’m willing to pay a decent price for these meats. In your work, have you come across any sources that you could recommend?

    ETI responds: There aren’t a lot of markets for wild invasives, but they are out there. Marx Foods sells wild boar meat out of Texas, wholesale. ProFish sells snakehead. Nutria is now being sold as dog food. Schafer Fisheries out of Thomson, Illinois, sells Asian carp. That’s just for starters. Please let us know if you come across others. But keep in mind that we think the best way to control invaders is to eat locally and harvest them yourself.

    Reply

    veni October 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    dog food link is broken… http://www.marshdog.com. thank you.

    Reply

    Thea Hayes October 26, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Hello Nick! I’m a Board member of the Oregon Invasive Species Council. Please check out this article about our fantastic event “Eradication by Mastication” on the Oregon State blogsite (http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/wise/2013/08/19/gobbling-up-the-invaders/) and Institute for Applied Ecology website (http://appliedeco.org/news/invasive-species-cook-off-aug-25th-2013?searchterm=Eradication+). It was a great success, and there was a cookoff between three chefs; I’m sure the recipes are available from the chefs listed and/or organizer. Finally, talk to Tamara at EradicationbyMastication (http://eradicationbymastication.org/) . Delicioso!

    Reply

    Rebecca Norman June 24, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Perennial Pepperweed (Lepidium ltifolium)
    This is native here in the Indian Himalayas in Ladakh, it is a very aggressive weed and it’s easy to find rampant stands. The variety that grows here is very bitter raw, though I hear that what grows in the US is not as bitter and can be added to salads raw. Here it’s bitter and we have to leach the bitterness out. I learned from women who learned it from their mothers here, and now I’ve been collecting and eating large amounts of it with my students every spring for the past five years or more, and drying lots for winter. In the US it’s listed as a major invasive weed, and I’ve seen photos of large infestations.

    It is one of the first plants to come up in spring, because of its massive sprawling and deep root system. Collect the top 4 inches or so. Thick stems are actually nice and tender, so just take the whole shoot, don’t bother stripping leaves one by one. Throw them in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes, till they turn dark green and a sharp bitter/mustard smell wafts up (similar to the smell of fermenting capers). Drain the water and soak them in fresh water for a day. Sometimes they lose the bitterness in one day, sometimes it takes two. It seems to be faster with a larger amount of water, or if you change the water more frequently. Anyway after the bitterness is all gone (or if you like a faint bitter edge), drain it and fry it up like any green leafy veg. It’s very rich and smooth.
    I posted a photo on the permies forum:
    http://www.permies.com/t/23396/wild-harvesting/Eating-pepperweed-loving-Lepidium-latifolium#199402

    If you want to eliminate this weed, unfortunately our annual collections don’t seem to have weakened the stand. We collect the shoots thoroughly two or three times in April-May, and then it seems quite possible to keep collecting as long as the shoots are tender and not forming flower heads. Last year in June or July when the flower heads formed, we cut down all the plants to try to reduce seeding in the adjacent gardens. This year that area seemed to sprout a little later than the others, but by June it had caught up again.

    My Colombian/French foraging mentors, Cata-Blanca, said that somewhere the roots are known as “poor man’s pepper” and dried and ground as a spice. I haven’t tried it but the roots do smell more clearly mustardy than the leaves.

    By the way, online info keeps referring to its fruit or seed pod being edible but I don’t think it’s correct. The seeds are miniscule and not contained in a real fruit or pod, embedded in a mess of papery leftover dried flower bits.

    Reply

    Liz May 16, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I am very pleased with the Salsa Verde I made earlier this week. Knotweed tastes almost EXACTLY like tomatillos when prepared correctly.

    6 cups of roughly chopped Japanese knotweed shoots, skinned
    2 jalapeno peppers, sliced in half, seeds and ribs removed
    1 medium white onion, quartered
    3 cloves of garlic, peeled
    2 limes, juice of both, zest of one
    1/2 cup cilantro leaves
    1/2 cup water
    2 tsp. cumin
    salt & pepper to taste

    Roast the onion, garlic and jalapenos. Blanch very very quickly the knotweed (30 seconds). Blend them all in the food processor along with the seasoning, limes, and water. Taste. Add more raw knotweed if it needs more of a zesty “kick”. It works great as a enchilada sauce as well.

    I have a few knotweed recipes on my blog: sweet exotic pickles and sushi. Also garlic mustard recipes, including frittata and gyoza.

    Reply

    Jarre Fees April 26, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Los Angeles

    Hadn’t been to your wonderful site for awhile. Tried dandelion flowers dipped in milk, then in flour and grated cheese and fried like zucchini blossoms; best early in the season, as they get bitter as summer takes over.

    Reply

    Maida Silverman April 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Hello–
    I love this website! I hope you will be interested in listing my book “A CITY HERBAL”
    –a guide to the lore, legends and usefulness of 34 plants that grow wild in cities, suburbs and country places.
    I wrote and illustrated this book, with drawings that show what part of an edible plant can be eaten. Actually, they are all weeds, almost all of which are not native to the United States.
    Susun Weed, an internationally known herbal wise woman and wild plant forager, is the publisher. If you are not familiar with the book, I will be happy to ask her to send you a copy.
    And I’d be happy to contribute a recipe for your website.

    Here in Milwaukee, WI, Catnip is a “weed” that grows everywhere, as does Motherwort,
    a European native, used for centuries to aid women in childbirth.

    Reply

    JoeRoman October 5, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Hi, Maida,

    Thanks for your note. Please do send us a recipe from your favorite invader. And we’d love to see a copy of the book.

    Reply

    Michael Clements April 23, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Hello,

    I am new to your website but not to hunting, fishing and eating invasive’s. We live in the Hill Country of Texas and have an abundance of invaders to choose from. I am also a gourmet chef and cater private events with exclusively invasive menus that I harvest myself. I am going to share one of my favorite wild hog recipes with y’all today. It starts with the harvest. If you are not able to harvest your own wild hog then I suggest you look around your area at local ranches or hog hunting outfitters. These are great sources of fresh pigs. Ask for a female ranging in size from 10-40#. Once you have cooked this size you can move to the larger variety later. But be ready to take delivery of said pig once the arrangement has been made. You may or may not be able to talk them into cleaning “Gutting” the pig for you. It is important to do this quickly after the harvest. Once you have the “Cleaned” pig you will need a few items for preparation before the cooking can begin.

    Tools needed before cooking:

    Rope
    Something sturdy to hang the pig on “tree or something”
    Blow Torch
    Hack Saw or my preference a Saws-all “Reciprocating saw”
    Good Large Sharp Knife
    Leather gloves

    Before cooking begins we need to remove the hair from the pig. “Wild Pigs are covered in coarse hair” Start by hanging the pig by the back feet with your rope at the height that is comfortable for you to work. Proceed to burn all the hair from the pig. Rubbing the burned hair off with the gloves on to ensure all hair is removed. “This part stinks pretty bad but will not affect the flavor of the final product.” Once all the hair is removed lay the pig on the table or ground and remove the feet at the ankle joint with your saw. At this time you may choose to remove the head although that in not necessary. Take the knife and cut through the breast plate of the pig so it is “Butterflied”.

    Now comes the fun part. Cooking!!! You will need the following. For 40# pig. Smaller pigs adjust the quantities of seasoning.

    BBQ Pit or Large oven pre-heated to 225deg
    Pig Opened up
    1 Bag of oranges
    1/4 cup of Kosher salt
    1/2 cup of coarse black pepper
    1/4 cup of granulated garlic
    1/3 cup smoked paprika

    Lay pig on it’s back and open up.Season the entire inside of the pig with the ingredients above. Cut the oranges in half and place pulp side down on the inside of the pig. Place pig uncovered on it’s back in the smoker or oven. Cook 1hr per pound or until the meat pulls back from the leg bone.

    To serve remove from heat and let rest for 10-15 min before cutting. Flip pig over to the belly side and remove skin. It should just peel off with no issues. If not then it is not done yet. Remove meat from your favorite parts and enjoy. “The loins or Back strap runs along the spine on both sides.” Serve with your favorite sides and sauce.

    Enjoy.

    Reply

    José Antão March 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Portugal

    I have recently learned about your “Eat the Invaders” initiative and was delighted to see how it seems to be working. I had myself flirted with the idea of doing something along those lines, and I have assembled a list of invasive exotic plant species in Portugal, with data on their edibility and potential medicinal uses. Not a lot of them are clear gourmet material, but I will give some of those a try (also, Portugal has less of an invasive species abundance on offer than the USA).

    Having lived in the US for nearly 9 years (Boston), I got acquainted with some of the ecological issues in the country, and one of the items I was fascinated with was the problem with sea lamprey in the Great Lakes. Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) is a regional specialty in the north of Portugal, where its scarcity makes the prices soar to pretty high values, especially considering the economic reality here. It is also very tasty. It made me wonder why nobody seems to be eating them there. Do you have any idea about that? Could it be that there’s something about the environmental conditions around there that make them less suitable for eating, or is it that people dread the animal?

    I would be happy to start an import route from the US into here. Thank you for your work and good luck for the project(s).

    ETI responds: Thank you for your note. I suspect the reason we don’t eat lampreys is purely cultural. Our parents didn’t eat them, so neither do we. That having been said, I’d be happy to work with you on this. We have lampreys here in Vermont (that may be native, as it turns out). But the government uses poisons to kill them–to protect more highly valued game fish. The poison kills the lampreys and rare native salamanders. A bad deal all around.

    Yes, it was my impression as well that lamprey control is done mostly through poisoning. And it does sound like a bad deal. As for cultural issues around eating them, that’s probably the same with every invader. One way around it could be to catch the fish and sell it in the Portuguese communities in New England (New Bedford, Fall River, Providence, Newark, etc).

    Let me add to my earlier note that lamprey is not eaten exclusively in Portugal. I’m more familiar with it here, but it is also found in Spain and France. It can be cooked fresh or it can be canned. Here are a couple of examples from French online stores:
    Millesimes Gourmet
    Lafitte
    As you can see, the price is not unattractive.

    You can also find some ecological and nutritional information about the lamprey in this short presentation.

    It’s possible that, being a very fatty fish, there are some concerns with the accumulation of mercury and certain fat-soluble water pollutants.

    More information on sea lampreys in the Great Lakes. Apparently even Queen Elizabeth likes them in pies.

    Reply

    Tony Summers October 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Catalina Island Conservancy

    Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, is highly invasive in much of the United States and Canada. The Catalina Habitat Improvement and Restoration Program (CHIRP) of the Catalina Island Conservancy has developed this recipe for baking with the tender stems and green seeds of fennel.

    Killer Fennel/Fennel Killer Molasses Cookies

    Step 1: Collect and candy fennel.
    Tender fennel stems and green immature seeds can be candied and used with this recipe. Tender fennel stems can be collected from plants when they are in the “bolting” phase as long as stems snap easily when bent. Stems should be peeled and chopped finely. Stems have a much milder anise (licorice) flavor than seeds. Add approx 1/2 cup sugar to 2 cups chopped fennel stems in a sauce pan and add just enough water to cover mixture. Simmer sugar and water until the majority of the liquid has evaporated and mixture is thick enough to not drip from a spoon. If using fennel seeds, add the same ratio of sugar to seeds but use 1/4 as much of the candied fennel in the final cookie recipe.

    Step 2: Prepare cookie dough – makes approx 5 dozen cookies

    Ingredients
    3/4 cup margarine, melted
    1 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 cup molasses
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 tsp ground cinnamon
    2 cups candied fennel
    1/2 tsp ground cloves

    Directions
    In a medium bowl, mix together the melted margarine, 1 cup sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves; blend into the molasses mixture and candied fennel. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread dough on smooth, floured surface and roll fairly thin with rolling pin.

    Cookies should be approx 3 inches in diameter.

    Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Candied fennel burns easily so be sure to check cookies at 6 to 8 minutes and remove if they appear to be burning.

    Reply

    Allen Salzberg June 29, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Publisher/Editor
    HerpDigest: http://www.herpdigest.org

    I would like to nominate red-eared sliders, Trachemys scripta elegans, for Eat the Invaders. Found all over the globe, they are Norway rat of the turtle world. Originally this harmless little green turtle was sold everywhere, supposedly doomed to die. But they didn’t, some grew and people released them. The IUCN now considers that to be among the 100 worst invasive species. I am working on a film about them in Central Park, and I’ve even seen pictures of them basking in the holy turtle temples in Bangladesh.

    They are edible as adults. Turtle soup? Here’s a Creole turtle soup recipe, from New Orleans. Be sure to only use red-eared sliders, not native turtles. Sliders are native to the Mississippi River basin, but invasive in Europe, Asia, Africa, and much of the US, including New Mexico, the Northeast, and Florida. (See the USGS map here.)

    I just love your basic idea. It’s shock value to make people think. And who knows may trigger and industry or two.

    Reply

    Lauren December 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Well…from what I have seen the red-eared have cross-bred with the native yellow-eared sliders and it’s hard to tell what you have any more. On Staten Island it has to be mostly cross-breeds at this point. Of course, most of SI is a superfund site, so you wouldn’t want to eat any of them, but it’s an interesting point. There are a number of species that cross-breed and the cross-breeds will win out eventually from what I can see (just look at what we call “the things that should not be” in the local non-migrating duck and fowl populations – wild and released fowl interbreed like crazy, and the prodigy seem to “rule the roust,” pushing out native species and creating their own new urban “cultures.”

    Not sure where I’m going with this, and I love the idea that harvesting invasives can help balance things, but maybe we should face the fact that many animals and plants are doing exactly what humans do — adapt.

    Reply

    Corey April 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Michigan has a severe mute swan problem and is in the process of eradicating. I haven’t seen much aside from swan burgers for recipes. Seems like there could be more options for such a large bird (as long as they’re not too toxic). I would love to see some ideas, and perhaps if we can kill them for sustainability, the eradication will become less controversial?

    Reply

    Duane Chapman April 2, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Research Fish Biologist
    USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center
    Missouri

    You have sure done a bang-up, professional job on this informative website. In addition to Fajitas, your viewers might be interested in treating the “flying carp wings” described in the video like buffalo chicken wings. Simply fry with something that gives a crispy coating and dunk in hotwing sauce. I have not done that myself for a long time, simply because it is such a caloric presentation. But if you like buffalo chicken wings, you will love the carp wings. And the meat to bone ratio is a lot better, too.

    Nearly any way you like to cook fish, silver carp will be good eating. About the only way I don’t really like AC is oven-fried. We eat a lot of oven-fried panfish (crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish, etc.) at our house, because it is quick and easy and low calorie, and because I have a pond outside my door, so we have the fish at hand. They are light and flaky that way. Asian carps are too meaty and dense for that method. Just about any other way works well. They are very versatile fish in the kitchen.

    On your site, I think there could be more space given to education to attempt to avert the potential downsides of “invasivory.” And there ARE downsides. In the case of the Asian carp, managers have decided that harvest is an appropriate strategy for control, but it might not be for all species. There are cases where the risks probably outweigh the benefits, and in some cases, for example certain crabs in California, or lampreys in the Great Lakes, where harvest is discouraged and commercial harvest outlawed. You have done a great job of discussing the problematic nature of these invasive species, and that goes a long way toward the goals of controlling, rather than spreading, invasive species. But I think there is room for more caution about unintentionally or intentionally introducing these unwanted species to new locations. People who transport invasive plants could also easily distribute the seeds of the plants, and often unintentionally. The same goes for undesirable animal species–if you move them around to eat them, try not to let them escape and populate new areas. For something like crayfish, which are normally cooked just before eating, this is a real possibility. Furthermore, if people are making use of these organisms, even if only a few people are using them, it does provide an incentive for people to establish new populations in previously uninvaded places. For an invasive species, you can have many enemies, but you only need one friend, intentional or unintentional, to be transported and released elsewhere.

    If we like the invasive organism, it is not invasive. Non-native trouts are not usually considered invasion. But love is in the eye of the beholder. It only takes one person to move an organism, even though the vast majority of the populace wishes it would go away.

    So it makes sense to me that your site would include substantial caution to the public to avoid transfer of undesirable species to new places. I’m also a bit concerned about livelihoods and economies becoming wrapped up in species that we want to go away. In most cases, it’s a nonissue, because the species are not going away no matter what we want. But if new mousetraps are invented, it might be difficult to deploy them, if it means that a portion of the populace will lose income, even if deployment has big economic and environmental benefits.

    Reply

    Roel Boumans January 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Windy Acres, Charlotte, VT

    Dandelion Wine

    Day 1: Collecting and Preparing the Wine

    We make wine from 5 gallons of dandelion heads, which is quite a task. Sanborn is right about avoiding the green parts, but I would not be too anal about it, so just avoid the stems. (The green parts introduce pectin into the wine, which makes it difficult to clear.)

    We add lemon or orange juice to lower the Ph and have had great success with the small frozen cans. Another approach is to add a few scoops of black tea, which introduces tannin. We like to use wine yeast rather then baker’s yeast as it is adapted to higher alcohol percentages. On sugar, the golden rule is 2.5 kilograms for ten liters of wine (or about ten pounds of sugar for five gallons of wine). So 5 gallons of dandelions need ten pounds of sugar. (Sanborn’s recipe would be sweeter than we prefer.) We boil two or three gallons of water and steep a tea from the flowers. After the solution has cooled to lukewarm, we add the yeast, tea, and lemon juice and let it ferment. We cover the bucket with a cloth to allow the maximum exchange of oxygen.

    Day 7 to Day 28: Fermentation

    After a week, poor the mixture though a colander into a 5-gallon carboy. Add sugar water to the halfway point in the carboy, desolving as much of the sugar as you can. All the sugar will eventually be added, but you want to do this in stages to prevent too much action in your carboy, which could result in overflowing. At this time, you want to close your bottle off with a waterlock to prevent oxygen entering and allowing carbon dioxide to leave. (You now want an anaerobic environment for the yeast.) Once the bottle is full, leave it for about two or three weeks, then remove the deposits on the bottom.

    Month 1 through Year 2: Aging the Wine

    Leave the bottle standing at room temperature for about 12 to 18 months, racking it every time there is a significant deposit layer. When the water lock does not show any action and the wine is clear, bottle it up and let it sit for another year to ripen.

    Reply

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