Survival Food - Cattail (Typha latifolia)
How to Eat Cattails
Cattails are one of the most nutritious and widely available vegetables. If you are trying to survive in a remote location that has wetlands such as marshes or lakes, cattails may be a good source of food. You can eat the shoots, roots and seed heads. The shoots can be eaten both raw and cooked.The roots can be fried like potatoes or turned into flour to make prehistoric bread.However, to ensure food safety, always wash cattails and never eat them from areas with contaminated water.
Eating the Shoots or Spikes
Clean the shoots.After harvesting the spikes, stalks or shoots, you will need to rinse them with fresh water. Then, remove bacteria by soaking the spikes in vinegar for twenty minutes. Finally, rinse them again in fresh water to remove the vinegar.
- If you do not have access to vinegar, you can roast the spikes over a fire to kill the bacteria.
Fry the shoots.Put on a pan with some butter or cooking oil. Chop up the shoots and fry them in the oil. They have a nutty taste.
- You could also boil the shoots in salt water for fifteen minutes. Then, serve them like any other vegetable, with a bit of butter and salt.
Eat the shoots raw.The shoots have plenty of fibre. You want to get to the soft core of the shoots. Use your thumb to push on the shoot and separate the soft inner core from the outer fibrous part of the shoot. If you eat it raw, you may notice a taste that is similar to asparagus.
- Cut the shoots up for salads.
Consuming the Corms
Clean the roots and corms.The roots or rhizomes will need a thorough washing to get off any mud or dirt. Although it may be more difficult to clean the roots than the shoots, you will be peeling the roots afterwards, so don’t worry too much about it.
Peel the corms.Chop off the corms, which are the small stubby parts of the root. The corms are located at the bottom of the cattails. Cut this bulbous part off. Use a knife or a vegetable peeler to peel the corms. Try to get off any deeply ingrained dirt. You should have a tender heart of cattail flesh at the end of this process.
Fry up the corms.Put some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the corms and fry them up. They taste a lot better fried but can also be eaten raw.
- You can also use butter or margarine to fry the corms.
Enjoying the Roots
Clean and peel the roots.Clean the roots in fresh water. Then, use a regular vegetable peeler to peel off the rough outside of the roots. You should have white, tender root vegetables.
Chop up and fry the roots.You can use the roots like potatoes. Chop them up into thin slices. If you are frying up some eggs in the morning, you can fry the cattails like you would potatoes. Put some oil in the pan and fry them up until they get brown on the outside. They will be slightly fibrous but make for a delicious breakfast.
Squeeze the starch out of the roots.Fill a bowl with water. Put the roots in the bowl of water and squeeze the roots to gradually remove the starch. After working the roots in the water, let the starch settle in the bowl for three hours. Then, remove the excess water from the top to reveal the starch, which should be settled at the bottom of the bowl.
- Alternately, you can use a sharp knife or a rock to remove the starch from the roots. Scrape the roots with the knife to push the starch out onto a rock. Then, let the starch dry in the sun.
Dry the starch.Use a dehydrator to dry the starch. If you are camping, you could lay it out in the sun. If you are at home but do not have a dehydrator, you could use the lowest temperature in your oven.
Grind the dried starch to make the flour.You can use a grain grinder or a mortar and pestle. Then, use the cattail flour alongside other flours or on its own to make bread or other dishes.
Making Prehistoric Bread with Cattail Flour
Prepare the fire.Make an open fire. Once you have a good bed of coals, place a flat rock or a slate tile ontop of them. Put some lard or oil on top of the cooking rock or tile.
Make the dough.Mix three cups (709 millimeters) of grain with one cup (236 millimeters) of water. Combine the flour and water into a thick paste. Work the dough into small, half-inch (1.27 centimeter) thick patties, like little scones.
Place the bread patties on the cooking rock.Make sure the rock has some oil on it, since you don’t want the bread to stick to the rock. Find something to adjust and flip the bread, such as a a sturdy piece of bark.
Cook the prehistoric bread for ten minutes.After a few minutes, you should flip the bread. The bread should be fully cooked after about ten minutes. It should be crunchy on the outside with a moist inside.
Video: Can you eat cattail fluff?
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