Sunday, July 7, 2013

Milkweed, My New Favorite Vegetable!

Milkweed in bloom, unopened buds on top.
About a month ago I was exploring one of our local parks when I came across a beautiful and unusual plant.  I knew that it was either going to be something great or super poisonous because it was unlike any other plants around it.  It turned out to be something great!

While milkweed is no longer a commonly eaten plant, it was once frequently consumed by Native Americans and early colonists.  There are numerous toxic look-a-likes, namely dogbane and butterfly weed, so if you are interested in harvesting the plant, be sure and study the plant and its look-a-likes.  Just for information, dogbane's stalks are solid while milkweed's stalks are hollow, and milkweed has a white sap while butterfly weed's sap is clear.  In my opinion, it is difficult to miss common milkweed as it is so unique, especially when the flowers are in bloom. 

Milkweed buds, or the unopened flowers, are the part of choice on this plant.  The flowers are shaped like a pom-pom and are quite beautiful when they open.  Each bud in the pom-pom is slightly smaller than a pea.  It has been recommended online that you should boil milkweed in several changes of water to remove the bitterness.  I can only assume that those writers had never eaten milkweed, a conclusion shared by numerous milkweed eaters.  These are delicate and while I did boil mine for several minutes, to do it several times would result in mush.  I also did not detect any bitterness after the initial boil.  It tasted like a very mild asparagus, which I would be quite willing to eat over and over.  It is probably one of the easiest vegetables to cook.  My husband enjoyed it as well.  The kids, well, unless it is a green bean, will not even attempt it, no offense to milkweed.

Garlic Butter Sauteed Milkweed


2 cups of milkweed buds (about a lunch size paperbag of collected milkweed buds)
3 garlic cloves crushed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt to taste


Bring saucepan of water to boil.  Cut buds from milkweed pom-pom.  Leave the stems as they are soft and tasteless.

Drop buds in boiling water for two minutes.  Drain.

In frying pan, cook butter and crushed garlic for several minutes.  Add milkweed buds and fry for three to five minutes.  Add soy sauce and salt to taste. 

Serve alone or over rice.

Check out these other great milkweed recipes:

Milkweed Bud Capers
Milkweed Bud Cheddar Soup
Cream of Milkweed Flowerbud Soup

As with any wild plant, do your research and only try a little in the beginning to see if it is agreeable to you.

1 comment:

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