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Considering common milkweed as food

 
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Hello friends and family! I'd like to find out if we can harvest and cook the pods and other parts of common milkweed as a delicacy like most Native Americans had years ago and today. Do they still have to be cooked a certain way? And what are the recipes for it? I wanna make my milkweed dishes vegetarian or vegan to help cut back on meat that I crave for everyday. Anybody has any recipes for milkweed from the Potawatomi and Miami?
 
pollinator
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I have heard that common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is edible,  but the others not so much.  I do not have enough of it on my property yet, so have not harvested.  

The book "Native Harvests" by E. Barrie Kavasch says the buds, blossoms,  and "tiny pods" may be eaten steamed,  but the shots should be boiled in two or more water changes.   She includes 2 pages of milkweed recipes.
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I have personally never tried eating them but I've been told that you harvest the pods when they're small (under 2") and you can pan fry them up. I've seen people prepare them a bit like jalapeno poppers. If they're larger than 2" they get woody and stringy inside.
 
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yeah, you want the pods to be firm still when you pick them. flowerbuds and young spring shoots are excellent too!
 
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Giant milkweed grows like, well, a weed here. The shoots when they first pop up are one of the best tasting wild edibles I've ever had (don't confuse them with dogbane). I read that they taste like a cross between asparagus and green beans, and I would agree that's a pretty good description. I usually sautee them like I would asparagus. I tried the flowers, and I have yet to find a way to choke them down. I know I boiled them, and I think I deep fried them in tempura too. Yuck! Maybe I just need to experiment more. The pods are supposed to make an exact replica of mozzarella cheese from the silks before they mature, but I have yet to duplicate this. Maybe it's just common milkweed that works? We have some common milkweed but it is more scarce and much smaller. I may have to look for some.
 
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in my experience, the shoots, buds, and pods all taste the same. i guess i would accept asparagus/green bean. i usually say ‘a nuttier asparagus’.  this is common milkweed, Asclepius syriaca.

also, for what it’s worth, common milkweed regularly gets 4.5 feet tall here. as far as i know, giant milkweed is a mostly tropical shrub, in an entirely different genus, Calotropis, native to southern asia and central africa.
 
Jordan Holland
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greg mosser wrote:in my experience, the shoots, buds, and pods all taste the same. i guess i would accept asparagus/green bean. i usually say ‘a nuttier asparagus’.  this is common milkweed, Asclepius syriaca.

also, for what it’s worth, common milkweed regularly gets 4.5 feet tall here. as far as i know, giant milkweed is a mostly tropical shrub, in an entirely different genus, Calotropis, native to southern asia and central africa.



You are correct! I apparently confused Butterfly Milkweed with Common Milkweed, and Common Milkweed with Giant Milkweed. So it is Common Milkweed  I have been using. Sorry for the confusion.
 
greg mosser
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i’m intrigued now, that you find the various parts to taste different. did you do actual, open flowers? i’ve only ever done flower buds, aka milkweed broccoli.
 
Jordan Holland
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greg mosser wrote:i’m intrigued now, that you find the various parts to taste different. did you do actual, open flowers? i’ve only ever done flower buds, aka milkweed broccoli.



I think it was like the bottom three or so in this picture that I cooked. I do need to try younger ones.
 
greg mosser
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yup! it’s the top three i would have gone for!
 
Jordan Holland
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greg mosser wrote:yup! it’s the top three i would have gone for!


I must have gotten them too late, because I typically try the widest range possible when trying new stuff. I need to get out and check for some.
 
greg mosser
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it’s too late here. i may go looking for pods soon.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Greg! I've heard from you from MK. I'm looking for groundnut which I need more of, along with straight highbush or lowbush blueberry, hog peanut, trailing wild bean, wild sweet potato or man of the earth, wild leek, more nodding wild onion, wild garlic, prickly pear, elderberry, hazelnut, smooth sumac, russet buffaloberry, bearberry, sweet everlasting, pearly everlasting, more prairie sage, jewelweed, tall ironweed, tall sunflower and prairie cordgrass for my wild area. Are there vegan or vegetarian recipes for milkweed?
 
greg mosser
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i’ll have groundnut available, probably in november. i have a couple of those other things. shoot me a pm to remind me.

i don’t know that i’ve ever used a recipe for milkweed, but don’t think i’ve ever done anything non-vegetarian with it. most recently i made a modified 3-bean salad, only with one bean (kidney), milkweed flowerbuds, and sweet corn.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Yo Greg! Wanna ask you about wild kidney and you have it before? I wanna find which has more flavor between wild kidney, trailing wild bean and hog peanut.
 
greg mosser
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if wild kidney bean is phaseolus polystachios, that’s the only one of those that i have much experience with. it tastes…beany. with a noticeably thick skin, usually. more like lentil than a kidney. but not bad at all.
 
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Ever tried to make lentil soup outta it? If you have some this year, then I'd like to have some for my community farm or in my backyard next year.
 
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Peterson field guide to wild edible plants
mentions that if you are going to boil them
you need to start them in boiling water.
Don't put them in cold water and bring them to a boil.
I've heard this is because you will set the latex in if you don't start it in boiling water.
It also needs to be drained and dumped into more boiling water.
This needs to be done 3 times in 15 minutes.
I've eaten the young pods with no problems using this method.
 
Blake Lenoir
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I'll take it from there. I've created a new topic about wild beans on the vine forum. If anybody has any historic documention or records of the range and use of the wild kidney. Please let me know more over there so I can consider it for next year. Out!
 
Blake Lenoir
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Who had milkweed buds as soup? I had some at a Juneteenth event a couple of months ago.
 
greg mosser
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craig howard wrote: Peterson field guide to wild edible plants
mentions that if you are going to boil them
you need to start them in boiling water.
Don't put them in cold water and bring them to a boil.
I've heard this is because you will set the latex in if you don't start it in boiling water.
It also needs to be drained and dumped into more boiling water.
This needs to be done 3 times in 15 minutes.
I've eaten the young pods with no problems using this method.



as sam thayer notes in nature’s garden, the multiple changes of boiling water thing is probably one of those bits of lore that’s been passed down without a lot of experimentation. a quick blanch seems to be plenty for all edible parts. i’ve eaten shoots, buds, and pods with one quick boil. i had done it with multiple changes of water before, but it really doesn’t seem necessary.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Could the young shoots of milkweed be used for stir fries or salads?
 
greg mosser
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definitely stir fry - and would probably be good in many salads, too. they do need a little precooking.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Have any of you use milkweed silk for filling of vests or pillows during world war 2? Are there any other uses other than food?
 
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Blake Lenoir wrote: Have any of you use milkweed silk for filling of vests or pillows during world war 2? Are there any other uses other than food?



I was thinking about that the other day. Common milkweed has very big pods and silks are easy to harvest before the pods open. I have yet collected enough to stuff a pillow. My cousin had one pillow stuffed with bombax ceiba (silk cotton tree) fiber, and it was so soft and smooth.
 
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