Marie Alessandro, a dedicated and passionate foodie, will join "Survival for Blondes" on the 2nd Wednesday of every month, to share with us the Joy of Foraging. Marie is the social media consultant/coach for organizations such as The Mayor's Office of New Bostonians, The Mass Transgender Political Coalition, Latin Syncopation Entertainment, Boston Tango Society, and Salsa Libre of East Boston. She has a background in theater and entertainment, is a student of Certified Ethical Hacking, and was an early adopter of internet development and technology in the mid-90s, including blogging, media sharing, and social media,
Milkweed? I know what you are thinking …. Wait!! Is she talking about that WEED that grows in my yard? The one that seeps the sticky white sap that ruins my clothes? Did she say she EATS them?
CAUTION: Milkweed could be the “gateway drug” that lures you into the realm of foraging … WELCOME.
Why yes, you heard correctly. In fact milkweed is one of my favorite, foragable summer foods. If you want to try them, first and foremost, research a bit on plant identification (link provided at the end). Dogbane, which is poisonous, looks similar when it’s young, so be sure you have the correct plant!
Next you ask, what PARTS of the plant can I eat? When they are new shoots in spring, the whole plant, except the tougher bits of root, can be cooked and eaten. That time frame is narrow however, and by this point in summer, we are starting to see the flowering buds appear. These may be eaten, as well as the younger leaves and the thinner, upper part of the stem. Later, you can eat the immature pods, and even the silky part of the plant.
Let's say you want to go and try some now. Grab a bag or basket, a pair of scissors or a sharp knife, and perhaps gloves to keep the sticky latex sap from messing up your hands. Wear clothes you are not bothered getting milkweed sap on.
COLLECTING THE MILKWEED
- Look at the tops, and in between the flowers and tiniest leaves, for bugs.
- Clip the top 1/4-1/3 of the plant.
- Bag it and tag it … and bring them babies home to eat
HOW TO COOK THE MILKWEED
- Heat some water on the stove while you clean up your green treats.
- Rinse well under cold water, especially the top flower and leave clusters … unless you WANT the added protein of wee bugs.
- Pull off the leaves, use the scissors or knife to nip off the flower clusters and to snip the still-soft parts of the stem into small segments. Discard anything that feels too fibrous or is darker green than the tender bits higher up on the stem.
- Toss them in boiling water, add salt, and let simmer 3-5 minutes.
- Traditionally, you would then drain the water off the milkweed, and refill the pot with more hot water, to be sure you have drained off the icky latex toxins, so let's do that.
- Bring it back to simmer for a few more minutes.
- Drain it, butter up and enjoy with a touch of salt and pepper!
Your milkweed will be tender and sweet. Try them again later in the season, as the pods begin to form. You'll be hooked.
For help in identifying milkweed - http://www.tacticalintelligence.net/blog/how-to-eat-milkweed.htm