Milkweed Is Edible? Yes, And It’s Super-Easy To Prepare, Too
Milkweed Is Edible? Yes, And It’s Super-Easy To Prepare, Too by: Steve Nubie for Off the Grid News
August, September and early October are the prime months for milkweed pods in many parts of North America. The pods range in size from 2 to 4 inches and grow in clusters of 4 to 8 pods.
They’re typically a light green color and filled with a combination of seeds and soft, silky floss. I’ll usually collect about 20 or so pods and head to the kitchen or camp.
In early to mid-summer, the milkweed shoots first emerge, and they taste great when gently boiled, shocked and sautéed in butter or olive oil. We’re going to start with the pods because they’re in season now, and cover the spring shoots later.
Prepping the Pods
Raw milkweed pods are quite bitter and the white, milky sap is not exactly appetizing. It is also very sticky. They have numerous seeds and a stringy, silky floss inside of the pod. In order to remove the bitterness and the sap, they must be boiled in water and shocked in ice water, and then boiled and shocked again. (The duration for boiling is 10 minutes and then a shock in ice water followed by another 2 minutes in boiling water and a final shock in ice water.) This is done for any milkweed pod, regardless of its size.
Prior to the boiling water/ice-water shock, the seeds and silky floss need to be removed.
This can be done by gently pulling the seam apart with your thumbs on the curved back of the pod and pulling out the silk and the seeds.
There is also a tough, inner lining or membrane that needs to be removed. This is easy to do after the first boil and shock by gently pulling the tough membrane from the pod.
Large pods up to 4 inches are the best for stuffing. The best cooking methods involve baking or sautéing.
One thing you’ll notice during the first boil is a lot of bubbles and the white sap floating to the surface.