So I kind of knew in the ether that is the filing cabinet of my brain that cattails were edible; the thing is I didn’t realize just HOW FUCKIN’ EDIBLE THEY ARE.
Literally every part of this little fucker is useful. It truly is nature’s corn dog.
You can use the peeled rhizome centers *the mass of roots at the end of the stalk* and pan fry them.
The white part of the stalk can also be cooked and eaten
You can even eat the flower heads
and get this: you can make it into bread.
You can literally make flour from cattails:
Cattails grow naturally in boggy and wet areas, so a clean pond or creek near your home would be an excellent place to start harvesting this. You kind of have to work it around the roots to tug it out, and until you get the rhythm of it down they may put up a fight. It’s easy to identify and while not all of the plant may be that appetizing, it’s edible and non toxic. I haven’t read anything so far that would indicate it shouldn’t be eaten by anyone. It just goes to show, WHERE THERE’S CARBS, THERE’S A WAY.
Cattails are also known as “The Swamp Supermarket” because of their bevy of uses. If you were lost and came upon some cattails you’d have food, shelter, and fuel. No green plant produces more starch per acre than a Cattail, 6,475 pounds of flour per year on average according to eattheweeds.com. They play an immensely valuable role in nature, the spread of Cattails help convert open waterways to marsh and eventually dry land. They’re easy to identify when mature, but for harvesting younger plants note that they have an oval stem and no distinct aroma or pungent taste, so if what you’re harvesting has a really strong smell or taste, you’re probably not harvesting the right plant.
Recipes for Cattails from eattheweeds.com:
Scrape off two cups of brown cattail tops and put them into a bowl with two beaten eggs, one-half cup melted butter, one-half teaspoon each sugar and nutmeg and black pepper. Blend well and add slowly one cup of scalded milk to the cattail mixture and blended. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole and top with grated Swiss cheese –optional – and add a dab of butter. Bake 275 degrees for 30 minutes.
Cattail Pollen Biscuits
The green bloom spikes turn a bright yellow as they become covered with pollen. Put a large plastic bag over the head (or tail) and shake. The pollen is very fine, resembling a curry-colored talc powder. Pancakes, muffins and cookies are excellent by substituting pollen for the wheat flour in any recipe.
Cattail Pollen Biscuits: Mix a quarter cup of cattail pollen, one and three-quarters cup of flour, three teaspoons baking powder, one teaspoon salt, four tablespoons shortening, and three quarters a cup of milk. Bake, after cutting out biscuits, in 425-degree oven for 20 minutes. For an even more golden tone, you may add an additional quarter cup of pollen.
Cattail Pollen Pancakes
Mix one-half cup pollen, one-half cup flour, two tablespoons baking powder, one teaspoon salt, one egg, one cup of milk, three tablespoon bacon drippings. Pour into a hot skillet or griddle in dollar, four-inch pancake amounts.
Two cups scraped spikes, one cup bread crumbs, one egg, beaten, one-half cup milk, salt and pepper, one onion diced, one-half cup shredded cheddar cheese. Combine all ingredients in a casseroles dish and place in an oven set to 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve when hot.