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Cattails

General foraging topics and Plants & wild foods existing in multi-regional areas or not specific to any particular region

Cattails

Postby juju_mommy » Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:37 am

Anyone ever tried cattails? I've been reading up on them lately as they are a very obvious (meaning, easy to identify) foraging plant in my area. I've read that the corndog looking part (how's that for a description? LOL) taste like corn on the cob? LOL. I read that the root can be dug up and eaten and is similar to a potatoe (i.e. a starch) but that you should only eat if in water that isn't polluted (well, that's evereywhere in Louisiana! Ha!). I also read that some Native Americans used to extract the pollen (or whatever it is) to use as a type of flour.

Anybody actually tried any of this? Just curious.... How did you prepare it?
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Re: Cattails

Postby autumnwear » Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:24 pm

Juju,
I have been studying wild edibles for a short while now and yes, you are right. There are actually several parts to the cattail that you can eat, including using the top for flour, eating the roots, shutes, etc..
If you would like to find more on wild edibles, go to this site- she's been living and teaching it for decades and has wild food recipe book as well. http://www.wildcrafting.com/
You can get videos, books,etc from her site- all very informative. One of the most interesting has to be the book on Plants of the Cherokee- edible & medicinals they commonly used. I know of many others, if you would like links to those as well-just let me know.
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Re: Cattails

Postby PrepperMom » Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:44 pm

I have eaten the peeled shoots (Crunchy salad addition) , and I have collected pollen (The fluff) and used it in thickening soups like cornstarch with no prob. I have also used it to "batter" things , but I didnt like it so much for battering.
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Re: Cattails

Postby MTJoe » Thu Jan 14, 2010 6:00 pm

I love them, and dandilions are great too!
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Re: Cattails

Postby IceFire » Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:34 pm

Dandelions are great, especially when sauteed with a bit of onion.
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Re: Cattails

Postby Vina8 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:46 pm

Autumnwear,
Thanks for the link to WildCrafting.com This is particularly interesting since I live in NC. I ordered a couple of books and the videos.
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Re: Cattails

Postby juju_mommy » Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:10 pm

Thanks for the link. Now that I'm home (off work) and the kids are heading to bed, I can really check it out.

Though I know they have lots of wild edibles around here, I guess my problem is not being able to easily recognize them. The grapes and berries are about the most I know for certain. That's why the cattails seem to interesting to me - they are obvious! LOL. I also hear people talking about the dandelion greens all the time (I've also heard of people taking the flowers that haven't opened yet, battering them and frying them; they say they taste like fried mushrooms). But unless they have the flower coming out of the top, I'm not too comfortable yet with identifying. But I'd like to learn more about them too because I've read that they are yummy treats for chickens (which I hope to get soon).

I'd like to find a good field guide with some nice colored pictures to add to my home library. Anyone have a suggestion that I can add to my ever-growing Amazon wish list?
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Re: Cattails

Postby MTJoe » Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:14 pm

I would call the wildlife and parks, ask to talk with one of the biologists, they can be a great resource. I have spent several days learning that way!
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Re: Cattails

Postby kymber » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:49 am

great idea Joe! we recently started learning about foraging for wild edibles - it's amazing how much food is right beneath our noses! we have what people call "ferns" growing all over our area - very few people know what to do with "fiddleheads" - and that's just to name one!!! i recently read on another thread here that the Donner Family lived almost entirely off of boiled pine needles - i had already known that pine needle tea was a great pain reliever and astringent - but i learned that the Donner's scraped the oil from the top of the tea and it gave them a sense of peace and filled their bellies.

there is so much food right there in front of us! and if we learned to identify it all and then learned how to use it - imagine the amount of time we could save growing our own food?!?!
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Re: Cattails

Postby IceFire » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:36 pm

Fiddleheads ar a great wild edible, and readily available in our area. "Gourmet Cooking for Free" has some good recipes for cattails and fiddleheads.
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Re: Cattails

Postby MrDanB » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:40 am

I must be part bear, 'cause I absolutely love wild berries! We have a ton of blackberries on our property. I was going to axe them, but they're not in the way and I can freeze what I don't use. We also have "cattails" here in the northwest. Never imagined they could be edible! Good links too by the way!
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Re: Cattails

Postby IceFire » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:44 pm

Just another note about cattails...they are great "water filters". Here, there is a lot of AMD (Acid Mine Drainage) remediation going on, and in the "3rd stage" remediation ponds, they use plantings of cattails in the ponds to help filter the water. (By the time the water gets to the last pond before release into the river, it is clean enough to support trout.)
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Re: Cattails

Postby Alaska Rose » Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:10 am

The pollen of the cattail used as flour is the yellow "dust" the corndog looking head puts out in midspring, before the heads mature. If you shake each head in a plastic bag, you can collect quite a bit of the pollen. Use it in place of part of the flour in bread recipes to stretch your flour supply. It has a good flavor used that way and should be good for you also, but have no idea what the nutritional values are on it.

The heads themselves can be picked before they are too mature, steamed and eaten with melted butter just like corn on the cob but with a very tiny center "cob". Very good eating.

The early shoots in the Spring, can be peeled and added to salads or steamed lightly like asparagus, which is another easily identified "wild" edible plant.

The tubers can be used as a potato substitute in many ways and is also very good.

Cattails are a very good thing to have growing around in the edges of any ponds or sloughs on or near your property.
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Re: Cattails

Postby ActionJackson » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:45 am

I didn't see a "Foraging" section for folks living in the dead center of the USA, Colorado and the Rocky Mountains so I'll post this here. Some of you may have heard of Cattail Bob Seebeck. He's written a book or two on the subject of edible wild plants in the Colorado region. Here's a link to his personal website: http://www.cobaltcreek.com/newDesigns/cattailBob/. The good thing about cattails is that they grow in almost every state. Even here in the high elevation of Colorado near the base of the mountains cattails are plentiful and can be found around just about any wilderness water source.

Here's a little more information about cattails: http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/Ed ... ttail.html
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Re: Cattails

Postby Senah » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:54 pm

My husband and I love cattails. We get in our canoe and go through flats of them and get the tops and eat them like corn on the cob with butter (as others have mentioned). Earlier in the spring we eat the shoots in soups and add them to ramen and stir fry them.

A great resource are the foraging books by Samuel Thayer (the first one is "Forager's Harvest"). He also does a DVD. They are easy to follow, and correct many of the misidentifications from other tomes, and have lots of pictures from different seasons. A lot of the time when I go out bird hunting with my husband in the hills of Oregon, he has his shotgun and I have my foraging bag. We both come home after having made a killing :D


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