Foraging,  Identification,  Recipes

Foraging for Pineapple Weed

I guarantee, if you live in the UK and have ever walked in a park or the countryside you would have at some point stepped on this abundant and unassuming plant – Pineapple Weed.

Also know an Wild Chamomile this common weed is another edible plant that is over-looked by most. With properties similar to that of common chamomile we are all familiar with, it is surprising this weed is not more well known.

It is the end of the summer in the UK and I have been out in my local park harvesting a big batch of Pineapple Weed, some of which I will dry for teas over the winter, and the rest I am going to experiment with. Let’s see what I come up with!

Identification

Pineapple Weed is a small straggly looking weed that tends to grow around 10-30cm tall. It has pinnately dissected leaves which have a feathery appearance. The flower heads have large centers which are a yellowy-green colour and have tiny stunted petals. These are so small they are hard to see, so the flowers look like yellow ball atop their stalks.

Pineapple Weed looks very similar to chamomile without the characteristic white flowers. The way to determine you have found Pineapple weed and not chamomile or mayweed (another similar species) is the strong, discernible pineapple smell the flowers have. Its this smell and a pineapple taste that makes this such an interesting weed.

Where

Pineapple weed loves poor, compacted soil. It will often be found along pathways and tracks or along roadsides.

When

The flowers on pineapple weed are present and best to forage from late spring until late summer.

History

The story goes, that Pineapple Weed escaped from Kew Gardens in London back in the 18th Century. Previously an Asian plant it was introduced in this cultivated setting. After escaping it was become one of the fastest spreading plants in the UK since!

Medicinal

Pineapple weed has similar properties to that of camomile. The medicinal uses of Pineapple Weed are as follows:

  • Good for digestion
  • Reduces stress
  • Can be used to treat sores
  • Used to treat fevers
  • An insect repellent
  • A mild sedative to help treat insomnia
  • Pain relief from either drinking a tea, or using a tincture with a hot compress on achey muscles or joints
  • The antioxidants can improve skin health and can be used for psoriasis, eczema or insect bites.

In the kitchen

Again, similar to chamomile, one of the main uses of pineapple weed is to make a tea. Just harvesting 6 or 7 of the flower tops and seeping it in hot water for 2-3 minutes you will have yourself a refreshing and healing tea.

The leaves and flower tops can be used raw and added to salads.

Infusions using the flower tops can be used to make ice teas or cordials providing a mild pineapple flavour.

Again using the flower tops, a syrup can be made, which can be added to variety of puddings and sweet treats. Or simply drizzle this syrup over yogurt, fruits or on your porridge in the morning .

I had a go making the syrup and adding it to my favourite vegan flapjack recipe. I can whipped up some gooey crystallised pineapple chunks to add to the flapjacks giving it that extra sticky, pineapple taste in every bite.

Check out the recipe I used below. Happy foraging!

Vegan pineapple Weed Flapjacks

A deliciously fruity vegan flapjack using this common weed
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

Pineapple Weed Syrup

  • 1/4 cup Pineapple Weed flower heads
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Granulated sugar

Gooey sugared pineapple

  • 1 small tin pineapple chunks
  • demerara sugar

Flapjacks

  • 300 grams Oats
  • 120 ml Vegetable oil

Instructions
 

Making the syrup

  • Remove the flower heads from the stalks
  • Add flower heads and water to a pan and simmer for 5 minutes
  • Strain out the flower heads
  • Add the sugar and gently heat until all the sugar is melted
  • Put to one side until ready to use

Gooey sugared pineapple

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
  • Drain liquid from tinned pineapple
  • Gently press the pineapple with a tea towel or kitchen roll to remove excess liquid
  • Cut pineapple into small chunks approximately 3cm by 3cm
  • Bake for 10 minutes
  • Cover in demerara sugar and put back in oven for 5 minutes
  • Take out and allow to cool

Making the flapjacks

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees C
  • Grease a baking tin
  • Mix oats, olive oil, pineapple weed syrup and the pineapple chunks together
  • Press into the tin
  • Bake for 25 minutes
Keyword vegan

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