Edible Weeds

Your mother probably told you to eat your vegetables…but she probably never told you to eat these vegetables!

One restaurant in our area takes local produce to a whole new level. Newswatch 16 went to the Weigh Station Cafe in Towanda in this special edition of our taste test.

A big tray of leafy greens sits waiting to be washed and prepped.

But this produce didn’t come from a store, or even a local farm.

It came from alongside the Susquehanna River, picked by the owners of the Weigh Station Cafe in Towanda.

“It’s work. You have to park and then trudge about 100 yards to get to a creek bed or a river bed. We’ve got shovels and buckets, and dig,” said Karen Parkhurst, one of the owners of the restaurant.

At the Weigh Station Cafe some indigenous plants considered “weeds” are incorporated into the cuisine by co-owners Karen Parkhurst and Barb Keeney.

“This is the best part right here, this is the fiddlehead. And of course, it looks like a fiddle,” said Keeney, pointing to the curled top of the freshly picked green plant.

Fiddlehead ferns, when picked early enough from the banks of the Susquehanna, have an asparagus-like texture.

With only a three-week season, they’re considered a springtime treat.

First the fiddleheads are boiled then sautéed in butter.

Chefs here say they’re only safe to eat when cooked!

Another “weed” used is Invasive Japanese Knotweed. It’s often considered a pest because it crowds out other native species.

But when picked early enough it has a similar consistency to rhubarb.

“It can be used in rhubarb dishes, rhubarb crunch, rhubarb cake, I’ve made it into a little parfait. Strawberry rhubarb and we also have the strawberry knotweed,” said Keeney.

And that’s only the beginning. Morel mushrooms and leeks, all hand-picked, are used in soups, salads and entrees at the Weigh Station.

“Any time we can stump them. We like that!” said Keeney.