You can eat these swamp things? Aha. Not only you can, you should try eating them at least once in your lifetime. Because they are suspiciously good. And because you can eat almost any part of them and still everything tastes good. Raw and without anything. Foragers say that they are one of the best-tasting wild plants.
Funny but I found out just recently that cattail is called so because its flower resembles a cat’s tale. Took a long time 🙂 Crazy how sometimes you can miss something that is staring right at you.
Cattails are like spam – they are nearly everywhere and in great quantities. Almost in every part of the world. As long as it’s a little wet year-round, their leaves and heads usually stick out. There are a few poisonous plants with leaves that look similar, but don’t worry, none of them have such a spectacular head. So, finding and identifying cattails is not a problem. Collecting them is fun (except roots maybe). For example, if you want an inner stalk, you grab a cattail by its inner leaves and pull it – and a white, perfectly clean stalk comes out ready to be devoured.
This plant would serve you exceptionally well if you are lost in the wild. First and foremost, because it has at least one edible part at any time of the year. Even winter! In winter and fall, you can eat its roots. In spring and summer, you can eat inner lower stalks, roots and flower heads (including the upper part with pollen). American Indians besides eating the heads raw, also roasted and boiled them, like corn-on-the-cob. But cattail’s use is not limited to being just food. You can make a durable shelter, more than a few remedies, pillows, life-jackets, and even anti-freeze from it. Which all are useful when you are trying to keep yourself alive. One author who “fell” for the plant called it “supermarket of the swamp”. I feel like comparing it to a coconut tree. Seems like these two were designed with the purpose of making people’s lives easier. Thank you, Nature.
The stalks remind cucumber and zucchini! The texture is more tender though. It’s so refreshing to have them in the midst of a hot day. The taste of roots is similar, less cucumbry maybe.
The taste of flower heads is up to you to find out. The heads are going to show up soon, so don’t miss a chance to surprise your tastebuds.
They are divine with this dressing
The above salad is just some summery veggies and, of course, cattail stalks. With this dressing, they are divine.
For the dressing, I blended mango, avocado, fermented rye and cucumber. But, really just mango and avocado is all it takes. A weird combo but you will like it. Mango needs to be semi-ripe, so that it’s a little sour. By the way, that’s one of the favorite dressings of Frederic Pateunade, a long-time raw vegan who I read sometimes.