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Home arrow The Daily Dirt arrow Friday Five: Incredible Edible Cattails
Friday Five: Incredible Edible Cattails Print E-mail
Written by Heleigh Bostwick    Friday, 23 September 2016
Cattail shoots

Today’s Daily Dirt newsletter was inspired by a reader who mentioned yet another way to eradicate pesky cattails (see Cattail Invasion!). She suggested eating them. The shoots pictured above look like scallions, but they’re not. They’re young shoots from cattail plants. I haven’t tried pickled cattail shoots or “corn on the cob” or even sautéed cattail rhizomes with butter for that matter, but the reader who suggested them has. At any rate, perhaps it’s not an alternative everyone will embrace, but it’s definitely an interesting and effective method of eradicating cattails. Bon Appetit!

1. Pickled Cattail Shoots
Harvest cattail shoots by reaching into the mud and breaking them off just above the rhizomes or, if you plan on eating the rhizomes (a must if you want to get rid of the cattail entirely), then yank out the entire plant rhizome and all. The outer layers of the shoots are tough and need to be peeled down to the white stalks, but once you’ve done that they are ready to be washed with clean water and sautéed, boiled (1 to 2 minutes only), pickled in vinegar, or eaten raw in salads. Apparently they taste a bit like cucumber.

2. “Corn on the Cob”
Immature green flower spikes can be harvested, steamed, and eaten like corn on the cob.

3. Cattail Flour
Flour can be made from the rhizomes or from the male flower spike just as it begins to produce pollen (before it turns the distinctive brown color). Shake the pollen into a container. If you are in a marsh with a lot of cattails, according to this interesting article in Backwoods Magazine, The Incredible Cattail, several pounds of flour can be collected in an hour.

4. Cattail Rhizomes: A Starch Alternative
Cattail rhizomes are chock full of starch and taste a bit like celery root, water chestnut, and/or potatoes. To enjoy them as a delicacy, our reader suggests breaking off the “little eyes” on the rhizomes, sautéeing them in butter and seasoning to taste.

5. Curried Cattail Soup
Another interesting recipe from Wild Food Plants. What more can I say?

Recommended reading:
The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
Feasting Free on Wild Edibles

Photo source: www.survivaltopics.com