The Amazing Cattail Food Source and MoreFood & Drink
Cattails grow in almost every country in the world and through out most of the United States. Whenever we see these brown tipped plants we automatically know that a swamp is there since cattails inhabit swampy areas. Occasionally we harvest a few and place them in old milk cans and large vases as decorations. But cattails are much more than swamp plant. They are an amazing food source, fire starter and the one plant above all others that those who enjoy spending time in the wilderness should know about as there can mean the difference between surviving and not if you are lost and need sustenance. They also can provide free food for the savvy consumer looking to cut down on their grocery bill.
One of the most amazing things about the cattail is that some part of the plant is edible all year long making it a unique food giving plant. Here are some of the parts of this plant you can eat and when they are most edible.
Early spring is the time of year when you can dig up the fresh shoots of the plants peel and eat them either raw or cooked. Eaten raw they make great additions to salads as well as can be used as the entire green part of a salad. The shoots are an excellent source of fiber.
Summer is a time when you can harvest and enjoy many parts of the cattail. You can gently pull the stems from the ground and you will see that the lower part is white. This part of the stem can be eaten raw and tastes a lot like cucumber. When cooked the stem tastes like corn.
Later in summer the green flower heads can be plucked and and eaten like corn on the cob. And by midsummer when the yellow pollen appears you can shake the pollen into a paper bag and use it for a thickening in soups and stews or mix it with flour for some great tasting bread.
Fall is the time to gather the roots of the cattail. Cattail roots will be rope like and they need to be washed and mixed with water and let set for a few hours until they turn into a gooey mess. This can then be drained and use for bread making or even stirred into soups.
Although the cattail roots will be harder to come by in winter you can break through the ice and and gather them. Towards the end of winter they will also be small new shoots you can gather and eat.
For those whose survival may depend on nature at some time in their lives the cattail can be a huge help. Not only can it provide a food sources for those in need of food but there are other parts of the plant that can aid in survival as well. Breaking open the brown heads of the cattails will allow the you to get out the fluff which can be used to start fires as it is highly flammable. It can also be stuffed inside a jacket or shirt to provide insulation and help protect you from the cold.
The mature leaves can be woven into baskets, mats, and even a temporary mattress to allow you to sleep and provide some protection from the bare ground. In extreme cases the common cattail may make the difference between surviving and not.
The cattail is truly and amazing plant and truly deserves to be recognized as the a plant that can provide us with a variety of food and a source of survival.
Note: The picture used in this article came from wikipedia