Editor’s note: Crunchy Mama‘s wild food adventures continues. For those unfamiliar with this feral food, it has so many other virtues. Not only is it edible, it makes great cordage, stomach tonic, and candle wicks.
“A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
DISCLAIMER: This information is offered for educational purposes only. Do your own due diligence before foraging wild edibles of any kind.
Originally published on her site The Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead and reprinted here with her permission.
A NEW favorite wild edible: green milkweed seed pods!
BY THECRUNCHYMAMACHRONICLES ON JULY 31, 2013
Milkweed with green seed pods
It’s been a few months since I walked on a nearby path where I have spotted many a wild edible. Busy with the homestead garden, ya know! Anyway, I was thrilled to walk the path yesterday and find two wild edibles that I have been wanting to try: green (immature) milkweed seed pods and staghorn sumac berries (blog post forthcoming).
So, I picked about 9 milkweed green/immature seed pods to try for the very first time. When i got home, I referred to my copy of Sam Thayer’s The Forager’s Harvest to find out exactly how to prepare them. He says that some people can eat milkweed raw but other people cannot tolerate them raw. I did taste a bit of the raw silky white and a bit of the raw green part. The silky white part was pretty good raw and the raw green part was decent but I decided that I would cook the rest. Generally, when I try a new wild edible, I like to keep it simple so that I can really taste the plant. I steam/sautéed the pods, cut in half, for a few minutes in some butter (with a tablespoon of water) in my pre-heated cast iron skillet. They were very good! I now have yet another favorite wild edible! They taste mild and delicious. According to what I’ve read, you can put these pods in casseroles, stews, stir-fry’s, etc. They are so versatile! And, did I mention that they are delicious?!
What I did find out after I had picked them and come home is that I picked them a bit too big. According to Thayer, pods that are 1 – 2 inches are best. HOWEVER, I thoroughly enjoyed the pods that were 3 – 4 inches long. I have some that are slightly bigger and I will try them later. You should know, though, that once they turn brown they are no longer edible. As with all new foods, please do your own research and, if possible, consult with a local wild food “expert” to make sure that you are following the “rules” of eating wild edibles: 1. positive identification of the plant, 2. eating the correct part of the plant at the right time of development and 3. proper preparation(can you eat it raw or do you have to cook it to make it safe to eat?)
Green (immature) milkweed seed pods (a bit bigger than “prime” according to Sam Thayer but still good in my opinion!)
Milkweed seed pods cut open to expose the silky white middle
Steam/sauteed green milkweed seed pods with butter, salt and pepper
If you are looking for my other posts on wild edibles, they are here:
Ostrich Fern Shoots (fiddleheads)
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Update: I did try the bigger ones and they were fine for me!
4-inch milkweed seed pod boiled in some savory broth and served with some grassfed beef ribs, green beans and lacto-fermented sauerkraut.
Author bio: The Crunchy Mama is a libertarian unschooling mama to three sons, married to her husband since 1998. They live on their Midwestern homestead of 2 ½ acres with chickens, ducks, dogs and an ever-growing organic vegetable garden. She is an avid wild food eater. In general, she’d rather be outside enjoying creation. If you’d like, you can connect with The Crunchy Mama on Twitter @thecrunchymama, YouTube, or on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.
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We cooked up a whole mess of the smaller pods this past weekend, simply sauteed in butter and bacon drippings with a little salt and pepper. I’ve got photos in this post: http://www.commonsensehome.com/cooking-weeds/
Some were quite tasty. Others were incredibly bitter to the point of being inedible. Any thoughts on this, other than tasting eat one before cooking to make sure you’re not getting the nasty ones? We’ve had very dry weather recently, and a hot week, so I suspect ones from certain areas of the yard were more bitter, but don’t know which ones since I mixed them all together.
Thanks for commenting, Laurie. I like your blog and I just subscribed to it. Looks like we have a lot in common 🙂
To answer your question: I would taste them before I cook them. For a lot of plants, the bitterness will increase if they don’t get the rainfall they need and if they are in blazing sun. Also, you could experiment to see if you suspect that the bitter ones were in a particular place that would lend to the bitterness b/c of lots of sun. If you are on Facebook, I highly encourage you to join a few really great wild edible groups (lots of knowledgeable and helpful wild food enthusiasts): https://www.facebook.com/groups/MidwestForagers/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/WildRecipes/
Also, Laurie, I just realized that the pods that I got were from plants that got shade from a building for the first half of the day and then sun the second half. So, maybe because they do not get all day sun, they were not bitter. The pods that you have in the photos look exactly the right size, according to Sam Thayer. I’d love for you to report back about finding more bitter ones: how much sun they got and if the insides of the pods looked different. I cut all of mine before I cooked them.