Saturday, May 29, 2010

Milk Weed Shoots

Book after book states that milk weed shoots are not just terribly bitter, but also poisonous unless you boil them in several changes of water until they are a mushy green mass. That is why we were so surprised to find our wise leader, Samuel Thayer, extolling the excellence of milk weed shoots, indeed comparing them favorably to green beans!

Master Thayer has spent some time trying to destroy the lambasting of the lovely milk weed plant. He has even eaten it raw. His theory is one that we have heard again and again in our research on wild edibles. Some “expert” mistakenly reported it inedible unless boiled into oblivion. Subsequent authors repeated this adage more or less verbatim. Secondary resources are always inferior. That being said, if I thought the milkweed plant was poisonous, I probably wouldn’t try it raw.

So we followed our mentor’s advice; he hasn’t been wrong yet…

Our milkweed was a little past prime for shoot collecting, but still snapped crisply in our fingers. We removed the leaves, then peeled some and left others untouched. We boiled them for 20 minutes and served them with a little butter.

Baby Yub Yub loved these. And I must say, she does love a good green bean. Thag and I also gave them a five. A nice firm vegetable to add diversity to all our leafy greens. The peeled shoots were far better than the unpeeled ones, perhaps because of their age and size. We’ll have to try again next year with younger plants, but until then, we’re going to gather more and peel ‘em up.

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