Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Foraging - Milkweed

Sometimes on this MooseBoots journey, things just seems to click.  I pays to have an open heart and be aware of the things around you.  Also, be respectful and grateful. 

Wendy and I were out in the yard this past weekend looking at the gardens and the animals.  We notices that the milkweed was growing very well and spreading to many places we did not wish it to grow.  We have encouraged milkweed to grow in our yard for several reasons - it is native to our area, it smells really nice when it flowers, it is a beautiful plant to see, the monarch buttefly larva only eat milkweed, it has many uses like wart treatment and being a decent fiber plant for cordage, and it is edible.  Any of you who know me in real life have probably heard me say that if it is not edible we can't plant it.  We have about a quarter of an acre that we work - not much space.

Many of you have heard that milkweed is only edible it you boil it in three changes of water.  This is a common misconception.  In the Forager's Harvest, Thayer discusses this myth and it's likely source.  It seems as though many people write about things they have not tried and pass on bad information without verifying it.  Thayer's book writes this book from direct first hand experience - he forages a good deal of his own diet.  It is based on, and describes in detail, his lifelong passion for wild foods.  Regardless, we resptectfully picked, with gratitude, several of the small plants that wandered too far.  One I cleaned immediately - removed the leaves, snapped the stem off at the base and top, and enjoyed the fresh, delicious flavor.  The rest have been cleaned and are ready to be steamed.

Now, I do not want you all to run out and pick your milkweed unless you are completely certain that it is milkweed.  The Forager's Harvest spends a page or so describing the differences between common milkweed and common dogbane, the source of the aforementioned misconception.  Milkweed is edible raw and it not bitter, but sweet.  Dogbane is very bitter.  I would encourage you to learn to identify plants and research the edible parts.  Thayer's book is a great starting point and is filled with plants common to the northern parts of the US.  Do not expect it to be encyclopedic, however.  He discusses, in great detail, only a few dozen plants.

It is nice when this MooseBoots journey, my metaphorical journey to a pair of hand crafted moose boots, takes such a sweet turn.  Of course, I do like to eat.      


  1. It's green ... and you'll eat it?? What's up with that?? *grin*

    It was good, sauteed in olive oil, garlic, and a splash of lemon juice with some tender greens from the garden ... and a side dish of t-bone steak ;).

  2. I need to get this book - I need to get some milkweed too if only so we can see Monarch butterflies in our yard.

  3. Is there a lot of calories in milkweed? What does it taste like?

    I might buy some seeds and plant it in my forest garden.

  4. I am not sure about calories. I believe that most wild foods contain more calories than domestically raised. I tastes a bit like asparagus, but not quite. The flowers attract butterflies. And, the seed pods are edible. I am not sure that you'll find seeds ... in our area, people try to kill it because it is a "weed".


Thank you for leaving a comment on MooseBoots.

If you have not, please follow this blog by clicking the "Follow" button.