Eat those tall fuzzy things that grow in a swamp? What?!?
Cattail shoots are a spring treat waiting to be discovered by those of us who typically forage for our food at our local supermarket. Pull on your highest rubber boots and get ready for a trip to “Big Sky Grocery” where the freshest, tastiest produce is always free!
The look of cattail shoots resembles a scallion – with white bottoms and green tops, they have multiple layers and are watery. The scent and flavor is like cucumber. Cooked lightly, they retain their crisp texture. They can also be eaten raw (some people report being allergic to them so try them cautiously at first).
Ready to dig in? Or wade in? First, find a nice stand of cattails, away from the road or any other runoff. Look for green shoots sticking 12” or more out of the water. Reach in, a few inches below the surface of the water, and pull/snap the shoot. Repeat. You might need 25 – 30 for four side servings.
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Once you collect a bucket of shoots and are back on dry ground (and hopefully avoid getting a boot full of swamp water as my son did) you will want to trim them to about 4”, so you have mostly the white part remaining.
Take them home and wash them really well – you know where they’ve been! Oh, and while you’re on the hunt for cattails, look out for wild chives – they will provide some of the flavor when you serve them.
My first try was lightly steaming the shoots and then adding a little butter & salt. The next night I was more adventurous and tried them in a light cream sauce.
Cattail Shoots in Cream Sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 4 mushrooms sliced
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 25-30 30 cattail shoots cut into 1” long pieces
- ¼ cup cream
- salt & pepper
- Wild chives
- Heat oil or butter in saute pan and cook mushrooms until soft.
- Add garlic to pan and cook for one more minute.
- Add cattail shoots and cream to pan. Cover, bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for 3 – 5 minutes.
- Stir in salt, pepper & chopped wild chives.
- Serve with crusty bread to soak up the cream.