Tag Archives: Equisetum arvense

Tsukushi

Tsukushi (Equisetum arvense) or field horsetail is a much loved spring vegetable in Japan and Korea. In Norway, it is called kjerringrokk or åkersnelle and is only used as a medicinal herb (the green summer stems are used) in particular for urine tract infections and for strengthening hair and nails (see this Norwegian article: http://www.rolv.no/urtemedisin/artikler/equi_arv/art1.htm). It is advised in Norway that one should be careful when picking as it is easily confused with Equisetum palustre (marsh horsetail) which is said to be “quite poisonous”. The two species can occur in similar habitats, as marsh horsetail can also grow in dampish soil, not just marshes. However, the wikipedia entry, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equisetum_palustre states that this species is poisonous to livestock but NOT humans.
On my study tour to Japan, I remember eating tsukushi 3 times, all as tempura and even found a farm growing it (see the pictures below). The best vegetables for tempura are strong tasting herbs such as tsukushi, green udo, dandelion etc. as the oil coats the tongue reducing the perception of bitterness!

This is a plant I would not recommend planting in a garden as it is one of the hardest plants to remove once you have it and many gardeners fight a never ending war on it!

My Facebook friend Kiku Day in Denmark allowed me to post her own cooking description: “You need to pick the fertile stems that shoot during early spring. You have to take off the whorls of brown scale leaves on these stems. Then you need to cook it.  I think traditionally the Japanese cook with soy sauce and miring (sweet cooking sake), eat it with white rice or with fried eggs. However, this time I blanched them and fried them in olive oil with salt and pepper. I have to say that the “heads” of the plant are quite bitter. So you have to like bitter taste. Also, don’t eat the green plant that comes later but use those for tea.”

Trip to the Japanese mountains in April 2016

Each day on the trip to Japan had been equally amazing as the day before with new plant and food discoveries all the way!! The venue for my talk in Tokyo was the art/photography studio belonging to a guy called Ken Takewaki. It turned out he’d spent a lot of time in the UK working on organic farms and knew the owner of Poyntzfield Nursery in Scotland well and I’d already planned to try to visit Poyntzfield on my Scotland trip in September! Knowing that I was heading for the mountains after Tokyo, Ken kindly invited me to visit his mountain home! What a place and the food was out of this world! Ken and his lady Masami had made a special effort to feed me sansai!

The next morning it was as if I’d been transported home in my dreams as there was new snow on the ground at the Ken’s home at 1300m. The day before it has been over 20C at 600m! Thanks so much to Tei, who I got to know through Caroline Ho Bich-Tuyen Dang, a member of Norwegian Seed Savers, for showing me so much of her village near Besshou (Ueda) in Nagano Prefecture and sharing all the amazing sansai and sake and for taking me to Ken’s place! More on Besshou later when I get time!Thank you so much too Ken and Masami for your hospitality!
On FB: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153897515615860.1073742590.655215859&type=1&l=84704ca6c5

 

Permaveggies Course Day 3: Ostrich fern tour along the Homla

As usual, the highlight of these weekends is the incredible walk along the river Homla just 20 minutes from home with large quantities of Ostrich Fern along the way, truly one of Norway’s most beautiful plants and also most delicious!!

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Storfossen (literally large waterfall!), the second highest waterfall at 40m in our region (Trøndelag). There’s a total fall of 80m in 3 waterfalls. If you’re lucky you can see salmon trying to climb the lowest of the 3!
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Participants showering in the drizzle from the waterfall stood in awe of this wonderfull sight, so close to Trondheim, but hardly known! We saw only a handful of other people on the trail in 4 hours!

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We found a few fungi. This is Fomitopsis pinicola / rødrandkjuke

Basidioradulum radula (Tannsopp), earlier classified with the Hedgehog fungi!

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Christian thinking about going for a swim?

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Happy participants, HIGH on nature and wild food!
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Happy participants, HIGH on nature and wild food!
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This dandelion was collected as it had a good mild taste!
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Ostrich fern / Strutseving
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Ostrich fern / Strutseving
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One of the confusion species that shouldn’t be eaten! With Anemone nemerosa (wood anemone / hvitveis) and Chrysosplenium alternifolium (Golden saxifrage/maigull)
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Roof garden!

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There’s a lot of up and downs along the 4 hour walk (with stops) from Storfossen to Hommelvik!

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Everyone stopped in awe again at this beautiful rich stand of ostrich ferns which had come much further than in the cold air by the river
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We found this Swede communing with the ferns
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…Berit had a go too…next year we will have a group ostrich fern hug I think!

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Hidden among the ferns are other edibles like nettle / nesle and giant bellflower (Campanula latifolia)

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Fomitopsis pinicola / rødrandkjuke

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The field horsetail/ common horsetail / kjerringrokk / (Equisetum arvense) is another sign of spring. The plant is known as sugina (杉菜) in Japanese, literally “cryptomeria vegetable”, possibly from the appearance of the green stems. The fertile stems at the stage shown are known as tsukushi (土筆). The ideograms literally mean “soil brush”, based on their shape. A common foraged vegetable in spring!! DON’T plant it in your garden, it is one of the most invasive plants on open land! BUT, one shouldn’t use large amounts…this is a spring vegetable used in a short period in spring!!
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Knuskkjuke (Fomes fomentarius) is the tinder fungus used to start a fire!
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Upon returning home we made a green pasta sauce with ostrich ferns (cooked for 15 minutes), Hablitzia shoots, Norrlands onion (see my book) for all 3), soaked dried chantarelles, organic tomatoes, garlic, chili, seasoned with cuban oregano, bay leaves and served over a choice of hemp pasta and emmer wheat pasta from Etikken in Trondheim!