Cattails. All edible??

Discussion in 'General Food and Foraging Discussion' started by ashley8072, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. ashley8072

    ashley8072 The only one responsible for yourself, is you!

    Last summer at our Native American dance I noticed that the elders blessed the food with cattail pollen. A yellow powdery stuff. Growing up around cattails from our farm ponds and lake, I've never seen a yellow flower or anything that would resemble what what used. After discussing edible plants with my local Scout troop, I found that ALL of the cattail is edible. The roots can be eaten, the stalks and pollen crushed for a flour substitute.

    It first started on someone agreeing to help me make a Tulip bag (what the pollen is kept in). I've looked all over YouTube, tried googling anything related to the process of breaking down the cattail and have not come across any hard evidence on how or when to do these processes. The vids I found on YouTube of people picking and cooking them did not seem satisfactory. One guy said that the root tasted muddy. YUCK! But the water that came from it (cattail broth? lol) tasted like potato soup. I've had pondwater in my mouth. lol! ANother video, a woman harvested her cattail crop and cooked them (but didnt say how) and said that they tasted like leeks (im not even sure what that is. lol).

    Harvesting pollen? When is this even done? Should I not bother eating the roots if the pond is muddy? I seen a video of a guy putting a cheesecloth around the brown tops and shaking them. When he opened it, there was the yellow pollen. But I can't find anything on what season this is done.

    Looking for someone to offer some insight on this, or point me in the right direction. ;)
  2. catsraven

    catsraven Meoww

    Leeks are a member of the onion family. They have a very lite onion flavor.
    The tubers of the cattail taste like potatoes. Boil until tender. Wash them first or they Will taste like mud. Please don't harvest all of them, leave some so you will have some next year:) The pollen, I'm not sure but probably spring. I never harvested pollen.You can use a small paper bag the same way.
    To harvest the tubers dig down into the mud with your hands. Don't use a shovel you have to feel for them. You will find them in a string. Something like this 0-----0--0-----0----0-0. Take the smaller ones They have the best flavor.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2011

  3. ashley8072

    ashley8072 The only one responsible for yourself, is you!

    Looks like I got some more reading material. lol! The first and last link I browsed through. They are def more than what I've came across. The second one, I've found before and not really as detailed as I would like it to be. I hope that one of them have the estimated seasons of when all this action takes place. ATM, it's morel picking season and I think the late rain is hurting them so far.

    As far as overpicking, that probly wont happen as there's a ton. A few years ago, my mom and I actually transplanted some to each of the other ponds. They flourished and are now everywhere. lol! But looking to pick smaller tubers helps a lot. I probly woulda picked the biggest one I could find first. lol!

    thanx so much
  4. HarleyRider

    HarleyRider Comic Relief Member

    Maybe, but I doubt if the cat would like it. :D
  5. catsraven

    catsraven Meoww

    BWWWWWWWAAAAAAAHAHAHA Your so funny :lolsmash:
  6. bjason79

    bjason79 Member

    cat tail flour

    Funny you mentioned about cattails, but i was sitting on the throne reading the sas surival hand book and it mentioned making flour out of the cattails, specifically the flower heads once they go to seed. And i think back and remember rush like flowers once the flowers dies. Just something else you might want to look into.
    Have you given much thought into eating the root of a dandelion?
  7. ashley8072

    ashley8072 The only one responsible for yourself, is you!

    Not yet, but we have had the flowers themselves. Glad to see I'm not the only one hiding out with my SAS. lol! I've been checking the cattails every other day in hopes that I can start experimenting soon/ :)
  8. rwc1969

    rwc1969 Well-Known Member

    I've eaten the male and female flower heads, and the spring shoots that rise up to form new leaves.

    The spring shoots can be harvested now, the flowerheads a bit later into early summer, and the pollen follows quickly. You have to be on it as the flowerheads and pollen get too far along quickly.

    The white inner layers of the spring shoots are an excellent mild veggie in stir fries or even raw if washed, one of my favorite wild veggies.

    I haven't messed with the roots but the best way seems to harvest them, not rotten ones, wash them, pound them up and soak them in water to remove the starches. Then, you can concentrate the liquid and use it as a thickener, etc. or let it dry out and you will have a flour of sorts. Although, I believe it needs to be mixed, as well as the pollen, with regular flour or something else to give it the ability to hold together and appear more like what we are used to seeing flour products appear like.

    Cattail truly is an amazing plant and has to be one of the most abundant and underutilized plants in the world.

    Later in the season when the spring shoots get too big and fibrous to be palatable the shoots can still be pulled to reveal a aloe vera gel like substance that is very soothing to sunburns and such. Not to mention you can weave all sorts of things from the leaves and such, baskets, mats, etc. The plant is good for firestarting too, and the fluffy heads make for good insulation. The large dry brown male flowerheads make good smudge poles for mosqitos too.