We can find many useful plants near the water like cattails. There are two species of cattails common to North America. The major difference is in the wideness of the leaf. A broad leaf is a Typha latifolia, a narrow leaf Typha angustifolia. Southern Cattail is T. domingensis.
Food Preparation: Cattails are a versatile food stuff. The roots, new shoots and flowering heads are edible. In the spring, simply find the shoots; reach down into the mud and pull. Peel off the off the outer leaf and underneath is a tender tongue of cattail; Sauté this delicate core for 3-5 minutes in butter. Deeper in the soil is a long root where the cattail was attached. The root core is an excellent source of starch. Eat the starch raw as quick energy food or better yet, crush the roots in cold water and leach out the starch. The starch may be added to soups and stews as a thickener.
About mid June the male flowering head of the cattail located above the female flower spike may be stripped into a plastic bag. This high protein flower extender will keep in your refrigerator for eight months or use it immediately.
Here's a recipe.
CATTAILS, Male Pollen Pancake Mix
Ingredients: pancake mix and 1/2 cup male cattail reproductive parts.
- Add 1/2 cup the male part, the pollen, anther and stamen to 2 cups of your favorite pancake mix.
Try pollen and female parts in cookies, muffins, biscuits and bread recipes.
The young female bloom spike may be cooked like corn on the cob:
-Boil or steam in lightly salted water. Cook till tender. Butter and eat it hot.
Favorite Wild Food Combinations: Cattail shoots, saute with stinging nettle, violet leaves, violet flowers, dandelions, wild leeks and spring mushrooms such as Dryad's saddle or morels.
This is a favorite one skillet dish I prepare in the May when hiking or foraging. All the plants can be gathered in a lowland area with adjacent woods.
Recipe: Feeds four:
-chop ten leeks
-two cups of violet leaves and flowers
-two cups chopped nettles
-two cups dandelion leaves
-two or three cups mushrooms
-ten cattail shoots about six inches long
Put ½ cup of water in the pan. Cook over coals. Flavor with two tablespoons of olive oil, a couple dashes of soy sauce, and if you have it with you two tablespoons of chopped Oriental ginger and a tablespoon of sesame seed oil. Squeeze in the juice of 1/4 cup of lemon. Stir fry until mushrooms are tender. Serve.
Medicinal: chopped roots of cattail have been applied to burns and minor cuts. For more health and herbal tips, read the "Herbalist" by Joseph Meyer.
“All is indeed a Blessing IF you can just see beyond the veils; for it is ‘all’ just an illusion and a test, and one of the greatest Divine Mysteries of this life cycle.”
~The Divine Prince