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Thread: Cattail root

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    Tracker Bush Class Basic Certified bodenhek's Avatar
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    Default Cattail root

    I have read many times that cattail root can be dug up and cooked like a potato. A couple of times throughout the years I have tried to dig them up to try it but all I find is some very skinny roots.

    What time of year is best for harvesting and using cattail roots? And does anyone have recipes?

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    Guide Supporter Lichen's Avatar
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    It has been many years, but I just peeled them and boiled them like potatoes. A lot of fibers and pretty bland tasting. Somebody should have a better receipe than me.

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    Scout NoMoreOp4's Avatar
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    Here are some links:

    This one from another forum, but the poster Freedom is also on this forum:
    http://www.survivalistboards.com/sho...01&postcount=4

    Another I found:
    http://www.sacredearth.com/ethnobota...ng/cattail.php

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    Check out the book By John Kallas.."wild food from dirt to plate' loads of good recipes in there. Cattail root I have always found better if you process out the starch and use it as a thickener in soups and stews, rather then chewing and splitting the roots. Kallas explains the process quite in depth in his book..

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    I have tried to eat them before. What we could never get over was the smell of them. They stunk like the bottom of a lake. I still remember not being able to get past the smell.

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    Scout NoMoreOp4's Avatar
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    Soaking them in clean water for a bit can help with that

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    I thought they tasted ok after being charred in the fire. Just peel back the scorched part and chew the strands containing the starch -- mmmmmmm...
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    Bodenhek,
    The best times for harvesting cattail root are spring and autumn. During the summer, the roots have used up too much of the stored starch and they won't yet have begun storing more starch for the forthcoming year. They would be fine in winter too, but they are irretrievable at that time of year where I live.

    My wife and I have cooked them right in the fire, still wet, in the skin, buried in under coals. No need to wrap them in foil. Just bury 'em right in the coals. The blackened skin will just shred off, revealing a soft, stringy, white, starchy interior. This meat isn't chewy. It's more melt-in-your-mouth and, believe it or not, tastes a bit like unsweetened marshmallows. We find it delicious as is and so we have never bothered to prepare it any other way. As for the marshmallow flavour, that's common to a number of marsh/water plants, including (of course) the Marsh Mallow.

    Hope this helps,
    - Martin

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    cattail hearts are edible as well, and they are usually pretty tasty. kind of like a salted cucumber. Heard of people using the pollen to make pancakes, but I've never tried it

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    Cattail pollen is easy to collect, is a high protein food, and doesn't require further processing other than getting the bugs and impurities out with straining. It is as fine as powder or white flour. The way to harvest it is by taking a baggy and slipping the end of the stalk inside the baggy, then shaking it so the pollen comes off. Otherwise the pollen will fly all over.

    If you mix it half and half with white flour, it will rise, but cattail pollen does not have gluten to cause a bread to rise. It makes delicious pancakes by itself and makes everything that is a light color a nice yellow. Some say it has a nutty flavor.

    If you mix it with liquids, you need another flour or dry ingredient to mix it with first. Pollen is meant to shed rain, and it "sheds" water or liquids of all kinds too. If it is "cut" with another dry ingredient, it will accept liquids.

    It is better to freeze what you don't use right away.

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