Food for Free: Pineapple Weed
July is the ideal time of year to be on the lookout for Pineapple Weed! Why is it called that? Well:
1. It is a weed.
2. It smells and tastes like pineapple!
No surprises there. It also goes by Wild Chamomile and again, this is due to a detectable chamomile flavour.
Pineapple weed is easy to identify as it has quite a few distinctive features. The bud resembles a daisy head with no flowers and the leaves are quite delicate and feathered (it reminds me of dill although it does not taste like it!). It is a small plant and will not grow above 20cm. Finally, pick one of the buds off and roll it between your palms for a few seconds - give it a sniff and it should smell like pineapple!
Weed by name, weed by nature - Pineapple weed is a pioneering species which means that it grows where other plants won’t, for example - on rocky driveways. When you’re next out on a walk, keep your eyes peeled for the edge of the path as this is another place where Pineapple weed loves to grow.
When picking Pineapple weed, like any plant you may be foraging, be sparing in how much you take from one individual plant. It’s best for the Pineapple weed if you take a pair of scissors and snip above the roots so that it has a chance to grow back.
Because it commonly grows in areas that are likely to be contaminated (think of dogs peeing on the side of the path), make sure you wash your pineapple weed before using.
Other than tasting great, Pineapple weed is also a mild sedative and therefore has been used to help treat anxiety and insomnia. It is also has analgesic properties and so can be used as a pain relief.
Alternatively, the strong smell it emits acts as an insect repellant - just dry some out and keep it in your house.
You can eat both the bud and the leaves and once washed they can be eaten as is or thrown into a salad. I had a go at a couple of different drinks:
Pineapple Weed Rum / Pineapple Weed Mojito
I was seriously impressed with this recipe - I wish I had made more! The pineapple flavour that is imparted into the rum is delicious and when mixed in this Mojito it's like drinking a pineapple cube.
I half filled a jam jar with white rum and added a handful of the pineapple weed buds. This infused for three days. I then strained it through a sieve, leaving just the flavoured rum.
I followed instructions from @foragedbyfern on Instagram (I recommend following for some more foraging tips) to make the Mojito. I changed it up a bit and used mint instead of ground ivy.
In the bottom of your glass / jam jar, add 1 tablespoon sugar and the juice from one lime. Add a handful of mint leaves and give the contents at the bottom of the jar a good mix.
Add in 90ml of your infused rum and fill the glass up with ice. Finally, add your tonic water in and give it another quick mix. A perfectly refreshing drink to enjoy in the sunshine!
Pineapple Weed Tea
This is one of the easiest ways to make use of pineapple weed. Simply throw a handful of the buds into a teapot and cover with boiling water. Allow it to steep for 5 minutes and then strain the tea through a sieve.
I found that this process really brought out the chamomile flavour of the plant - if you had told me it was a cup of chamomile tea I would not have argued with you!
I tried this both as a hot and an iced tea and very much enjoyed both.