My Dirt Time The Adventures of Tom Sciacca

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Cattail. Amazingly good

My Dirt Time Cattail is a very cool wild edible plant. As many of us can, I've been able to recognize the cattail plant since I was a kid. However, I didn't always know that is is one of the most wild edible plants. Some part of the cattail plant can be eaten at any time during the year from the plant head to the root. A few weeks ago while family camping, I took a walk with the kids around the campground and as always, I was driving the kids nuts with little things like, “Hey guys, May-apple”, or “Hey guys, what’s that?”, “Yes Daddy, it’s cattail”, or “Yes Daddy, it’s Staghorn sumac”. They of course love it, but have to pick on Daddy. Anyway, we did see cattail off the road. I looked around to make sure it wasn’t in a drainage area, or too close to the road, or susceptible to pesticides or for any other reason(s) for it to be bad for us and didn’t see any. I plucked a few out of the ground and cut off most of it and left the whole shoots together until we got back to our campsite. Once I was there, I peeled the cattail shoots over the fire and discarded the outer leaves of the shoots into our campfire and was left with the inner shoots like the inset picture here. I brought the shoots into the camper and washed them off because they’re pretty slimy. I am also told that the slime from the cattail shoots has antiseptic properties, another great survival skill to know.

Of course, while I’m doing this the kids are excited, but probably a little apprehensive about trying the cattail and my wife sitting by the fire is just shaking her head probably thinking, “what the heck is he doing now with his survival crap”. Nevertheless, she actually tried cattail shoots and so did the kids. I think they’re great (of course I’m the survival skills dork) and they all thought they were a little acidy. They did have a little bit of a bite. I think they tasted like cucumber and told the kids that before we tried them. I think they expected the cattail to taste exactly like cucumbers, but of course only cucumber tastes exactly like cucumber. Anyway, it was again a lot of fun.

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