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Where, When and How to Forage Pickleweed (Batis maritima)

Aloha!

Did you know that there is an abundance of pickleweed (Batis maritima) at all times of the year in Hawai’i that is begging you (or at least I am LOL) to forage. You can add to many of your staple meals for a nice salty punch! The leaves, stems, seeds and roots are edible but the foliage in particular makes an excellent vinegar and/or oil pickle, added in sauerkraut or other ferments, dehydrated and even eaten raw. The stems and roots are slightly sweet and can be chewed on or brewed into a tea that is slightly sweet. The mouthfeel of the brewed tea is slightly thick, so it could also be added to broth or as s cooking liquid to add biodiversity in the diet.

B. maritima is a halophyte, long-lived perennial, and dioecious succulent shrub that is not native to Hawai’i. In fact, it is the only place in the word that it has become naturalized as well an invasive species. The plant forms dense colonies in coastal areas, specifically in salt marshes, brackish ponds, fish ponds and saline soils.

 

Batis maritima growing along the beach at Ma’alaea

B. maritima is a low-lying shrub which may reach the height of 1 m. The stem is usually around 5 mm in diameter. The leaves retain large amounts of water and are thus, highly succulent. The plant has pistillate inflorescences that have several pollen receptors over the surface and are pollinated by the wind.

B. maritima was first reported in the Hawaiian Islands on Sand Island in 1859, and has since spread widely. It displaces native plant communities of Sesuvium portulacastrum, also known as ʻākulikuli. You can help our native S. portulacastrum by clearing out B. maritima and other alien species that tend to dominate and crowd Hawai’i’s native plants.

B. maritima can be found growing at Keālia Pond, Kanaha Pond, Ukumehame, Ahihi Kinau, Cape Hanamanioa, Hamakua Marsh, Kawainui Marsh and Mōkapu on Maui and O’ahu, but it can be found on all the main Hawaiian islands in many more places.

Pickleweed Oil and Vinegar pickle

Zucchini and Pickleweed Oil Pickle

Zucchini and Pickleweed Oil Pickle Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound zucchini and pickleweed (~1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup vinegar + 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 clove garlic
  • 1/4 chili pepper, sliced in rings
  • 2 basil leaves
  • 2 mint leaves

Method:

  1. Place sliced zucchini in a bowl with salt and toss well. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the 1 1/2 cups of vinegar and the water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Add the salted zucchini to the mixture and cook until soft but still has some texture (~3 min), adding pickleweed for one minute at the end.
  4. Next, strain out liquid and put them into a bowl. Toss with one tablespoon of vinegar, basil, mint, chilies, and garlic.
  5. Toss with olive oil and let cool.
  6. Once cooled, pack mixture into sterilized jar with tight fitting lids, making sure the zucchini and pickleweed remain covered with oil. Cover with more olive oil if needed.
  7. Store in refrigerator and eat within 3 weeks. Serve with salt.

More recipe ideas…

Cold Blended Soup with Pickleweed, Cucumber and Dill

Cabbage Salad with Pickleweed

100% Local Burdock, Pumpkin and Pickleweed Salad

Raw, pickled and dehydrated pickleweed makes great salad toppers.

Pickleweed and Mallow (Malva neglecta) Furikake Spice Blend with Cucumber and Turmeric Mayo

If you have a dehydrator, this pickleweed and mallow furikake spice blend is worth trying! Dehydrated pickleweed, ground up, can be used as a salt substitute. It’s salty, savory and packed with good nutrients.

Dehyrdated Pickleweed

Pickleweed Roots

The roots are pleasantly sweet. When boiled, the water, combined with any of your favorite herbal teas can add an enjoyable earthiness and body that coats your mouth.

In addition to being used as a food source, pickleweed (Batis maritima) is one such plant, that has historically been used in remedies for the treatment of a wide range of diseases. To learn more, click here!

 

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