Re: Subject: confused farming? (very late and slightly OT)
- I have been offline the last few weeks with computers woes and have a lot of
catching up to do. My but this group is getting active now that spring is
strting to creep up on us! A few weeks back I started a dialog with poptones
concerning taking advantage of the bounty of edible wild plants--an approch
I consider even closer to the "do-nothing" approach to natural food
production than seedballs! As often as not I will work my gardens around a
healthy natural plantation of edible weeds, rather than destroying them to
plant more conventional "produce"
I'm including info below on milkweed--this is a posting from another e-group
that I cherish: email@example.com. Anyone interested in learning
more about edible wild plants would find this a great place to start--it is
an extremely knowledgable and friendly group.
It's good to be back--I'll plunge into more discussions as soon as I catch
up with all the backlog of threads I've been missing!
P.S. regarding your question about the Roma seeds--I have only a few that I
saved last year, though I expect a number wll come up volunteer in the
gardens as well. If their excellent qualities hold true through this next
generation, I'll be happy to share them with you for planting next season!
> Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 09:13:20 -0000IDENTIFICATION: COMMON MILKWEED-(Asclepias syriaca)
> From: "poptones" <poptones@...>
> And uh... milkweed is edible? I thought it was poison? I', familiar
> with collards and kale and dandelions, but I was always told milkweed
> is poison. And thistle? Please do elaborate!
Milkweed is easily identified. The syriaca is the commonest and most
widespread of the Milkweeds. It is the one with the stout stalks,
large leaves, rounded umbels of sweet scented, greenish purple flowers
and a warty seed pod which splits down the side when mature releasing
the light seeds, each with its streamer of silk which allows it to float
on the wind to a new location. It is found from Nova Scotia to
Saskatchewan and south to Georgia and Kansas.
Its wide distribution , abundance and ease of procurement could make
the milkweed an important wild vegetable if more people knew the
secrets of processing its products into palatable food. Milkweed has
not one, but four, very good vegetables, and has a possible fifth as
The young shoots up to six inches high, make a very passable veget-
able to serve like asparagus; The newly opened leaves can be served like
spinach; the unopened flower buds are eaten like broccoli; the young
pods can be cooked like okra. All of these are only good if properly
The milkweed has a very bitter printciple that seems to permeate
every part of the plant. Fortunately this excessively bitter taste is
easily removed with boiling water.All four of the milkweed vegetables
are prepared by very much the same process, so we only need to describe
it once for all of them. The shoots.leaves, buds or pods are put in a
pot, covered with BOILING water and placed over a high flame. When they
have BOILED one minute, drain, and cover with fresh BOILIMG water and
return to the heat. This process is repeated at least three times, then
the vegetable is simmered for about 15 minutes to make it tender (except
the buds which only require 5 minutes) and then seasoned to taste.
WARNING: Do NOT cover with COLD water and bring to a boil as this will
cause the bitter principle to become fixed in the cooked product.
The young SHOOTS are only good in the spring when they are only 8
inches high or less. Washed, bundled together with a string, like
asparagus and given the BOILING water treatment, they can be served
plain, with salt and butter or covered with a cream sauce and served
with toast. While milkweed is easily identified, the young shoots have a
look-alike in the young shoots of Dogbane(Apocynum androsaemifolium)
both plants have a milky juice,the Dogbane leaves are slightly narrower
and more pointed than milkweed and the dogbane stems are smaller in
diameter and more fibrous than milkweed. When the two plants mature
there is no similarity as bogbane branches and milkweed doesent and the
dogbane pods are longer and much thinner than the milkweed pods.While
not deadly poisonous the dogbane can cause severe illness. So be careful
out there. BTW, I was fortunate in being able to find and photograph two
young shoots of milkweed and dogbane growing side by side and am able to
use the slide to make the point when lecturing on edible plants.
The young LEAVES can be gathered over a slightly longer season than
can the shoot. Take only the tender top leaves before the plants start
forming flower buds.Milkweed leaves can be mixed with other greens if
given the BOILING water process first.
I prefer the BUDS to any other milkweed products. Gather the buds
while they are still young and in tight clusters.They will appear dull
and slightly wooly but as soon as they are covered with BOILING water
they will become bright green and make an attractive vegetable to look
at as well as taste. After the BOILING water treatment, simmer the buds
for about five minutes, then season with salt and butter.
The other milkweed product I like is the young PODS, but they must
be gathered at the right stage. If the pod has become tough and elastic
to pressure it is inedible. The hard young pods should be cooked a
little bit longer than other milkweed products. When gathered at the
right stage and cooked properly, the developing seeds and silk inside
the pod cook up into a soft and delicate masswhich is delicious.
You can freeze a supply of the buds and the pods for off season
use, These are put through the usual three changes of BOILING water,
then quickly and thoroughly cooled in cold water, drained, packed in
plastic bags or other suitable containers and placed in the freezer.
When used they are placed still frozen, in very little boiling water and
cooked for 10 to 15 minutes, seasoned and served. Quite a few years
ago(at my age I lose track of time) I was asked by the Churchville
Nature Center to conduct a wild food buffet for their first nature
exposition. Fortunately I had a good supply of frozen milkweed pods so
that a lot of people were able to try one pod each.
There are persistant rumors that the French in Canada made brown
sugar from the copius nectar secreted by the blossoms of milkweed but
the exact process seems to have been lost.
This concludes the the material on the edibility of milkweed.Some
of the material is from Euell Gibbons book "Stalking th Wild Asparagus"
and some from my actual experience. I have eaten all the milkweed
products except the brown sugar made from the flowers,