If You Can’t Beat It, Eat It! How to Make Pesto from Garlic Mustard

By Kelsey Mattison, Marketing Coordinator 

Did you know? There’s a movement across the country, “Eat the Invaders,” working to fight invasive species, “one bite at at time.”  Here in the Northeast, we’ve got a handful of invasive plants, which native predators won’t eat, but are perfectly safe for humans. Even restaurants are popping up with menus designed around harvesting and cooking wild invasives.

Garlic mustard, a plant in the — you guessed it! — mustard family, may seem harmless, but is actually highly invasive and has become a widespread issue across most of the U.S. over the past century and a half. Originating in Europe and parts of Asia, experts believe it was brought to North America for medicinal and/or agricultural purposes in the mid 17th century.

The plant sprouts earlier than many native plants, and establishes quickly, often making it difficult for native plants to successfully establish for the season. It also releases compounds from its roots that prevent other native growth from sprouting. Many people pull and discard garlic mustard plants (but not in the compost pile!) to help control its spread. Some even hire professionals to remove the plant. Princeton Hydro has treated it on various project sites along with other invasive plants.

With high levels of vitamins A and C, zinc, carotenoids, and fiber, it’s a shame to let this invasive take up space in our trash. While invasive to landscapes, this wild plant is safe to eat, so long as it hasn’t been sprayed with any chemical treatments. Garlic mustard leaves can easily be added to sauces, salads, sautées, and more!

How to Harvest and Prepare Garlic Mustard for Cooking:
  1. Correctly identify the garlic mustard plant in your landscape — the rough-toothed leaves and garlic odor when crushed are giveaways.
  2. Assure that it has not been amended/treated by local landscapers or public works.
  3. Make sure there’s no poison ivy growing with it.
  4. Pull up the plant by the roots, making sure not to scatter the seeds as you pull.
  5. Bag the plant to avoid spreading the seeds in transport.
  6. When you’re ready to cook, cut off the leaves.
  7. Discard the stalk and roots in a sealed bag for disposal.
  8. Wash or soak the leaves in water and pat dry.
  9. Start cooking!
Recipe FOR GARLIC MUSTARD PESTO:

1 cup of garlic mustard leaves

2 cloves of garlic

1 cup of basil leaves

¼ cup of walnuts or pine nuts

1 cup of olive oil

½ cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

1 lemon (squeeze in fresh juice to taste)

Before you start, make sure to thoroughly rinse the garlic mustard and pat dry.

Combine garlic mustard, basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor or blender. Pulse until the ingredients are loosely chopped. Next, add the vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil and blend until it is smooth. Finally, add the Parmesan cheese and lemon juice to taste. Blend again until smooth. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour pesto over pasta, spread on toast, use as a marinade, or do whatever else you’d do with a delicious sauce!

For more information on other edible invasive species, visit Eat the Invaders‘ website.

Kelsey Mattison is Princeton Hydro’s Marketing Coordinator and a recent graduate of St. Lawrence University with a degree in English and environmental studies and a passion for environmental communication. Through her extracurricular work with various nonprofit organizations, she has developed expertise in social media management, content writing, storytelling, and interdisciplinary thinking. In her free time, Kelsey enjoys dancing of all sorts, going on long walks with her camera, and spending time with friends and family in nature.

New Green Infrastructure Toolkit for Municipalities

Our partner, New Jersey Future, just launched a brand new, interactive website toolkit to help municipalities across the state incorporate green infrastructure projects into their communities. The New Jersey Green Infrastructure Municipal Toolkit will provide expert information on planning, implementing, and sustaining green infrastructure to manage stormwaterThis toolkit acts as a one-stop resource for community leaders who want to sustainably manage stormwater, reduce localized flooding, and improve water quality.

According to the United States EPA, a significant amount of rivers, lakes, ponds, bays, and estuaries in New Jersey fall into the “Impaired Waters” category, meaning that one or more of their uses are not being met. This reality makes green infrastructure more important than ever in the effort to protect our waterways. When it rains, stormwater creates runoff, which often carries pollution to various types of waterbodies. Green stormwater infrastructure helps to absorb and filter rainwater, reducing the pollution entering our waterways and mitigating flooding in our communities. In urban areas, green infrastructure utilizes natural vegetation to divert stormwater, creating a cost-effective and aesthetically-pleasing way to manage water during rain events.

“We designed this toolkit to bring to light the benefits and importance of investing in green infrastructure at the local level,” said Dr. Stephen Souza, co-founder of Princeton Hydro. “Since the current NJ stormwater rules do not require green infrastructure, we hope to inspire municipal engineers and planning board members to believe in the value through our toolkit. Additionally, we hope it will serve as an educational resource to local officials and decision makers in the Garden State.”

For this project, Princeton Hydro was contracted by Clarke Caton Hintz, an architecture, design, and planning firm, leading this effort on behalf of the nonprofit organization New Jersey Future. Our expert engineers and scientists provided real-world examples integrating green infrastructure into development, in hopes of showing those using the toolkit real world evidence of how green infrastructure can be a part of the daily lexicon of stormwater management. Additionally, Dr. Stephen Souza developed performance standards that municipalities can integrate into stormwater management plans, which are available in the Green Infrastructure Municipal Toolkit.

Princeton Hydro Supports Creation of Stormwater Utilities in New Jersey

For Immediate Release: May 15, 2018

PRESS STATEMENT 

On behalf of Princeton Hydro, LLC, a leading water resources engineering and natural resource management small business firm in New Jersey, we support the passing of New Jersey’s stormwater utility creation bill, S-1073. If S-1073 is administered in a responsible manner, we believe that it will enhance water quality and reduce flooding impacts in New Jersey.

Since our inception, Princeton Hydro has been a leader in innovative, cost-effective, and environmentally sound stormwater management. Long before the term “green infrastructure” was part of the design community’s lexicon, our engineers were integrating stormwater management with natural systems to fulfill such diverse objectives as flood control, water quality protection, and pollutant reduction. Our staff has developed regional nonpoint source pollutant budgets for over 100 waterways. The preparation of stormwater management plans and design of stormwater management systems for pollutant reduction is an integral part of many of our projects.

We have seen the benefits of allowing for stormwater utilities firsthand. In Maryland, the recently implemented watershed restoration program and MS4 efforts that require stormwater utility fees have provided a job creating-industry boom that benefits engineers, contractors, and local DPWs. At the same time, Maryland’s program is improving the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, and stimulating the tourism and the crabbing/fishing industry.

New Jersey has the very same issues with our water resources as Maryland. Just like the Chesapeake Bay, our Barnegat Bay, Raritan Bay, and Lake Hopatcong have serious issues with stormwater runoff that is degrading our water quality and quality of life.  Our stormwater infrastructure is old and falling apart, and all stormwater utilities need continual maintenance to save money in the long run.

It is important to point out that this current bill is not a mandatory requirement, and would simply provide a mechanism for various levels of government (county, municipality, etc.) to collect a stormwater utility fee in order to recover runoff management costs.

This bill (S-1073) should not be reviewed only in the context of cost, as this bill meets all three elements of the  triple-bottom line of sustainability; social, environmental, and financial. Allowing stormwater utilities in New Jersey will create jobs, help reduce flood impacts, enhance water quality, improve our fisheries, and preserve our water-based tourism economy. 40 states have already implemented stormwater utilities, and we believe that it is time for New Jersey to join the ranks.

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Princeton Hydro President Gives Keynote Address

Princeton Hydro President Geoff Goll, P.E. gave the keynote address to kick-off the University of Wisconsin-Madison‘s Master of Engineering Management (MEM) 2017 Residency for 1st and 2nd-year students.

As a 2013 graduate of the MEM program and a leader in the industry, Geoff was invited to give the presentation and offer to students his perspectives, insights and advice on how to transition from being a technical expert to a role in leadership and management.

A personal message from Geoff:
“I was very honored to present to the students and faculty of the MEM program, as they are a prestigious group of professionals that represent many sectors in the engineering industry. The MEM program provided me with the tools to develop as a manager and leader at my firm, and I was very glad to be able to give back by sharing my experiences. I was also very excited to share the story of the firm’s history, which Dr. Stephen Souza, Mark Gallagher and I built from a small 7-person firm started in Steve’s attic, to the multi-state, nearly 50-person firm we are today.”

The UW-Madison College of Engineering ranked in the Top 20 Online Engineering Management Degree Programs. This 30-credit hour, cohort-style program is designed for mid-career engineers, focusing on how to strengthen the skills and develop the knowledge needed to lead organizations, teams, and resources in the engineering field. Each summer, students are required to participate in a weeklong residency course on the Madison campus to conclude summer coursework and lead into the fall courses.