Saturday I took my lovin husband, Jason, to the Cattail swamp. It was his first visit. Being an artist, he relished the scenery: the bubbling stream, towering forest as a back drop, and the endless swamp of Cattail heads swaying in the brisk breeze.
I asked him to video me teaching all of you about the gift of Cattail. Though there were Cattails in various stages present, they were mostly in the brown cob stage where the green female cob had been pollinated and has gone to seed. They look like hot dogs on a stick. Linda Runyon, my esteemed wild hero, had told me that this was the FLOUR stage and to gather 10 cobs for a loaf of bread.
So I did.
Back home, I twisted the brown cobs to see what there was to see. They did not burst into soft fluff so I felt like I had them at the right time. BUT it looked kinda fluffy nonetheless and I wrote a quick SOS to Linda.
Here is one of the many times when I wish I could go back in time with you to your Cattail swamp days and help you forage and cook with your wild findings.
I collected 12 brown Cattail cobs yesterday to make flour for bread.
You write about it so poetically in your Field Guide. There are no specifics on how you do it just that you did.
SO please enlighten me. I have the fresh brown cobs. What do I do with them? They are tight and don’t break open easily so they are not totally fluff yet. The female green flower heads are gone, so is the male pollen. I collected lots of that this Summer.
If you can answer me quickly I would appreciate it. My Wild Dinner is this Tuesday night!
Eager to hear from you. Holly
Holly, I think you have the mushy, almost fluff, but not quite insides???? I put this through a hand grinder, a very old $1 meat grinder…..I did it more than once, until the substance becomes more and more floury……There is a time to do this, before the insides pop…When is it too late?… When you break the cob in half and the fluff flies out like milkweed fluff from its pod…..It is too late then for flour…..if it is a couple of weeks before, the substance should become more and more aTHICK meaty flour, which I mixed in egg and made Cattail biscuits…..here’s hoping! Good luck with your dinner………me
In all of my wild escapades, this one was the most suspicious looking and the most outrageous. Still I have complete faith in Linda, who lived off the land for 26 years…totally off the grid…Linda discovered and consumed all of the wild blessings that God had pocketed in the Adirondack wilderness for her provision and later in the Arizona desert. She is not just knowledgeable but experienced. Her books are my most turned to of all of my wild library, infact I carry the Survival Guide with me whenever I am out ‘shopping’.
It was surprisingly good. The texture could have been improved with another egg perhaps. Overall it was a very filling and tasty wild dish. I also had an epiphany, this could be part of a homemade mix in my dog food for Skipper. I gave him the remains of my lunch and he ate it readily enough. Another tweak: I might try is to add Cattail fluff to other casseroles to stretch them further and definitely, it will be the stuffing in my Thanksgiving turkey (which I have high hopes of shooting myself this year), and I think a few walnuts or roasted hickory nuts would be a nice touch.