Monday, 8 July 2013

Foraging for Cattails

Pretty much every website that I've looked at regarding cattail pollen collecting says that the best time to collect the pollen is in spring. Well, it's July now, and the cattails have just started producing pollen. :P Obviously the people writing these websites live in a much warmer part of the world than I do.

Anyway, I collected a bunch of cattail pollen a few days ago, and I'm going to use it to make cattail-acorn bread later on, after my 1 month raw food trail run. Speaking of which, I'm finding it very hard to enjoy my salads when my family is eating BBQ chicken legs right in front of me. I've decided that I love chicken and I really wish the farm I buy meat from didn't charge so much for them and have them available so infrequently.

But back to cattails. Cattails are a great thing to forage, since they have something to offer all year round, and they provide lots of different edible parts. You can eat the flower spike, the roots, rhizomes, the heart of the leaves, and the pollen. And apparently the mature brown part can be used as tinder for fire and the leaves can be used for weaving. Cattails also produce more starch per acre than any other crop. However, the only thing I was collecting was the pollen. I might try collecting the flower stalks next year, and maybe some rhizomes, but the roots apparently help to stabilize river banks and stop erosion, and they also filter toxins from the environment, so if I do decide to collect some roots, I'll be careful not to collect very many.

 So to collect cattail pollen, obviously you need to find some cattails, the more the better. I found this field beside one of the biking/walking trails in the middle of the city. Go figure. If you're not lucky enough to find a big field of them, you can still probably find some cattails growing in ditches. I collected pollen from the cattails growing in the ditches around my house in addition to what I found in this field.

You'll want to look for these; cattail flower stalks full of pollen. When you find one, carefully bend the stalk so the flower head is upside-down, then shake the pollen into a bag. 

 If you manage to find a bunch of stalks as heavy with
pollen as this one, you should be able to fill your bag in no time!
The pollen can replace some of the flour in baked goods. Happy foraging!

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