Earlier this spring, Robert and I went in search of some cattails. We were looking for a place to plant a letterbox, Foraging Cattails. We found a great area off of Route 2A, in Poquetanuck Cove. The cattails growing here are narrow-leaf cattails(Typha angustapholia) as opposed to the more commonly found common cattail(Typha latifolia). The difference is in the width of the leaf, and in the placement of the male and female parts of the plant. In the narrow-leaf cattails, there is a space between the female flower and male flower on the spike, where the common cattail has no space. The male flower produces the pollen for a few days in spring to fertilize the female flower, located directly below on the flower spike. This pollen can be collected and added to baked goods in place of flour for a source of minerals, enzymes, protein, and energy, plus a super yellow color. Even earlier in the spring, the hearts of the young shoots can be pulled up and peeled, eaten raw or added to soups. The taste is mild like cucumbers, with a fantastic crunch. The cattails spread through the root system, so no harm is done by harvesting the shoots or pollen. We eventually gathered and sifted about 8 cups of pollen from this stand of cattails, and keep it in the freezer.
Here's a good recipe for biscuits with cattail pollen, and I also added some chopped ramps leaves from early spring that we had gathered and frozen.
Cattail pollen and ramps biscuits makes about 16
2 1/4 c. flour
4 Tbsp cattail pollen
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold butter
1 c. chopped ramps leaves
1 c. buttermilk
1. Mix the dry ingredients together.
2. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients, leaving some peas-sized bits. Toss with the chopped ramps.
3. Add the buttermilk, mix the dough as lightly as possible. Roll out onto a floured surface and cut into 2" rounds. Place on a sheetpan covered with parchment.
4. Bake at 425° for 12-15 minutes, until browned.