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Milk weed what can you do with it

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Milk weed what can you do with it

Post by amybyrd21 on Sun May 17, 2009 4:48 am

Went to look at the hay field that got blown over and found a whol patch of milkweed in the other side of the driveway. What can you do with it? is it edible or can you use it medicanially?
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Re: Milk weed what can you do with it

Post by pepperens on Sun May 17, 2009 6:24 am

amybyrd21 wrote:Went to look at the hay field that got blown over and found a whol patch of milkweed in the other side of the driveway. What can you do with it? is it edible or can you use it medicanially?

I have milkweed sprouts in my garden because I planted a few over time. I could use it but am waiting for it to reproduce more ( started with one by accident, and now have six growing ! ) . The sprouts can be sauteed like a spinach, and I recall my father telling me he was sent out as a child to gather it near Lake George for his family. I hear many uses from foragers.
The pods are edible ( boiled and drained ), and the insides of the pods I have heard can be used like a cheese.
Here is an article below, ( I hope this includes the cheese part, I have not read it in a while but will look further ) but for pictures and so on it is good to go to the link.

http://www.countrysidemag.com/issues/87/87-2/Sam_Thayer.html


Milkweed
A truly remarkable wild vegetable

By Sam Thayer
Director of the Wild Food Institute
Bruce, Wisconsin


Milkweed isn't your average weed; in fact, I feel guilty calling it a weed at all. The common milkweed, Asclepias syriacqa, is one of the best known wild plants in North America. Children love to play with the downy fluff in autumn, while farmers despise it as a tenacious weed of hayfields and pastures. Butterfly enthusiasts adore milkweed as the sustenance for their beloved monarch. Hardly any country dweller can fail to notice this unique, elegant plant so laden with fragrant, multi-colored blossoms in midsummer.

Milkweed has served humans in many ways. During World War II, American schoolchildren collected milkweed floss to fill life preservers for the armed forces. This same floss is being used today by a Nebraska company called Ogallalla Down to stuff jackets, comforters, and pillows-and some people believe that it will become an important fiber crop in the future. It has an insulating effect surpassing that of goose down. Native Americans employed the tough stalk fibers for making string and rope.

Not least among the uses of common milkweed, however, is its versatility as a vegetable. Milkweed produces four different edible products, and all of them are delicious. It was a regular food item for all Native American tribes within its broad range.


Milkweed in flower

Gathering and cooking milkweed
There is a beautiful patch of milkweed in an old hayfield near my house. I treat it as an outpost of my garden-one I never have to tend. Because milkweed is perennial, it appears every season in this same locality.

The milkweed season begins in late spring (just about the time that leaves are coming out on the oak trees) when the shoots come up near the dead stalks of last year's plants. These resemble asparagus spears, but have tiny leaves, in opposing pairs, pressed up flat against the stem. Until they are about eight inches tall, milkweed shoots make a delicious boiled vegetable. Their texture and flavor suggest a cross between green beans and asparagus, but it is distinct from either. As the plant grows taller, the bottom of the shoot becomes tough. Until it attains a height of about two feet, however, you can break off the top few inches (remove any large leaves) and use this portion like the shoot.

Milkweed flower buds first appear in early summer and can be harvested for about seven weeks. They look like immature heads of broccoli but have roughly the same flavor as the shoots. These flower buds are wonderful in stir-fry, soup, rice casseroles, and many other dishes. Just make sure to wash the bugs out.

In late summer milkweed plants produce the familiar pointed, okra-like seedpods which are popular in dried flower arrangements. These range from three to five inches long when mature, but for eating you want the immature pods. Select those that are no more than two-thirds of their full size. It takes a little experience to learn the knack of how to tell if the pods are still immature, so as a beginner you might want to stick to using pods less than 1-3/4 inches in length to be safe. If the pods are immature the silk and seeds inside will be soft and white without any hint of browning. It is good to occasionally use this test to verify that you are only choosing immature pods. If the pods are mature they will be extremely tough. Milkweed pods are delicious in stew or just served as a boiled vegetable, perhaps with cheese or mixed with other veggies.

"Silk" refers to the immature milkweed floss, before it has become fibrous and cottony. This is perhaps the most unique food product that comes from the milkweed plant. When you consume the pod, you are eating the silk with it. At our house, we eat the smallest pods whole, but we pull the silk out of the larger (but still immature) pods. Open up the pod along the faint line that runs down the side, and the silk wad will pop out easily. If you pinch the silk hard, your thumbnail should go right through it, and you should be able to pull the wad of silk in half. The silk should be juicy; any toughness or dryness is an indicator that the pod is mature. With time, you will be able to tell at a glance which pods are mature and which are not.

Milkweed silk is both delicious and amazing. It is slightly sweet with no overpowering flavor of any kind. Boil a large handful of these silk wads with a pot of rice or cous cous and the finished product will look like it contains melted mozzarella. The silk holds everything together, so it's great in casseroles as well. It looks and acts so much like cheese, and tastes similar enough too, that people assume it IS cheese until I tell them otherwise. I have not yet run out of new ways to use milkweed silk in the kitchen-but I keep running out of the silk that I can for the winter!


Milkweed Pods in Immature Stage

With all of these uses, it is amazing that milkweed has not become a popu lar vegetable. The variety of products that it provides ensures a long season of harvest. It is easy to grow (or find) and a small patch can provide a substantial yield. Most importantly, milkweed is delicious. Unlike many foods that were widely eaten by Native Americans, European immigrants did not adopt milkweed into their household economy. We should correct that mistake.

You will find that some books on wild foods recommend boiling milkweed in multiple changes of water to eliminate the "bitterness." This is not necessary for common milkweed Asclepias syriaca (which is the subject of this article, and the milkweed that most people are familiar with). Common milkweed is not bitter.

The multiple-boiling recommendation pertains to other species of milkweed, and in my experience, it doesn't work to eliminate the bitterness anyway. I advise not eating the bitter species at all.

Common milkweed contains a small amount of toxins that are soluble in water. (Before you get too worried, remember that tomatoes, potatoes, ground cherries, almonds, tea, black pepper, hot pepper, mustard, horseradish, cabbage and many other foods we regularly consume contain small amounts of toxins.) Boiling milkweed parts until tender and then discarding the water, which is the usual preparation, renders them perfectly safe. Milkweed is also safe to eat in modest quantities without draining off the water. Do not eat mature leaves, stems, seeds or pods.

Finding and identifying milkweed
You might laugh at the proposition of looking for milkweed, as this plant is so well known and widespread that many of us would have trouble hiding from it. Common milkweed occurs across the eastern half of the continent, except for the Deep South and the Far North. It grows well up into Canada and west to the middle of the Great Plains.

Milkweed is a perennial herb of old fields, roadsides, small clearings, streamsides and fencerows. It is most abundant in farm country, where it sometimes forms large colonies covering an acre or more. The plants can be recognized at highway speeds by their distinct form: large, oblong, rather thick leaves in opposite pairs all along the thick, unbranching stem. This robust herb attains a height of four to seven feet where it is not mowed down. The unique clusters of drooping pink, purple and white flower, and the seedpods that look like eggs with one end pointed, are hard to forget.

The young shoots of milkweed look a little like dogbane, a common plant that is mildly poisonous. Beginners sometimes confuse the two, but they are not prohibitively difficult to tell apart.


Milkweed (above) / Dogbane stem comparison

Dogbane shoots are much thinner than those of milkweed (see photo on page 47), which is quite obvious when the plants are seen side-by-side. Milkweed leaves are much bigger. Dogbane stems are usually reddish-purple on the upper part, and become thin before the top leaves, while milkweed stems are green and remain thick even up to the last set of leaves. Milkweed stems have minute fuzz, while those of dogbane lack fuzz and are almost shiny. Dogbane grows much taller than milkweed (often more than a foot) before the leaves fold out and begin to grow, while milkweed leaves usually fold out at about six to eight inches. As the plants mature, dogbane sports many spreading branches, while milkweed does not. Both plants do have milky sap, however, so this cannot be used to identify milkweed.

There are several species of milkweed besides the common milkweed. Most are very small or have pointed, narrow leaves and narrow pods. Of course, it goes without saying that you should never eat a plant unless you are absolutely positive of its identification. If in doubt about milkweed in a particular stage, mark the plants and watch them throughout an entire year so that you know them in every phase of growth. Consult a few good field guides to assure yourself. Once you are thoroughly familiar with the plant, recognizing it will require nothing more than a glance.

Common milkweed's reputation as a bitter pill is almost certainly the result of people mistakenly trying dogbane or other, bitter milkweeds. Keep in mind this rule of mouth: If the milkweed is bitter, don't eat it! Accidentally trying the wrong species might leave a bad taste in your mouth, but as long as you spit it out, it will not hurt you. Never eat bitter milkweed.

Milkweed should be a lesson to us all; it is a foe turned friend, a plant of diverse uses and one of the most handsome herbs in our landscape. We are still discovering and re-discovering the natural wonders of this marvelous continent. What other treasures have been hiding under our noses for generations?

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I like this milkweed article even more !

Post by pepperens on Sun May 17, 2009 6:44 am

This article mentions the milkweed cheese and more uses.
Again, I would go to the link as well for better format and pictures, but it is here for helpful record.

http://www.wildfoods.info/wildfoods/milkweed.html

Milkweed?
If Green Beans, Broccoli, Okra, Sisal, and Geese Aren't Weeds, Why Is a Single Plant With the Attributes of all Five Considered One?

Most people know milkweed simply as food for the monarch butterfly's caterpillar, or as a tenacious, pesky weed of hayfields. If those butterflies weren't so beautiful, and if their annual migration to Mexico weren't so amazing, few people would care what happened to this herb. But milkweed isn't your average weed.
In World War II, schoolchildren across the Midwest collected thousands of pounds of milkweed fluff to stuff life preservers for the armed forces in the Pacific, because kapok, the normal material used for this purpose, came from Japanese-occupied Indonesia and was unavailable. Today, you can buy pillows, jackets, and comforters stuffed with this material, which is wonderfully soft and has a higher insulative value than goose down, from a company called Ogallala Down, in Ogallala, Nebraska. Some people believe that milkweed will become an important fiber crop, as one of its attributes is that it is perennial and therefore does not need to be replanted every year. Milkweed stalks also produce a coarse, sisal-like fiber that can be used for twine, which varies in strength from one plant to the next. This possibility has been little explored commercially, but it was well known to Native Americans.
The milkweed that we are talking about here is the common milkweed Asclepias syriaca. There are numerous other species of milkweed in North America, but common milkweed is by far the best known. It is abundant in the whole area east of the shortgrass prairies, north of the Deep South, and south of the boreal forests of Canada. It is a common sight of roadsides, fencerows, meadows, sunny woods, and abandoned fields. Common milkweed produces pairs of large, oblong, thick leaves all along its unbranching stem, which is typically three to six feet tall. Both the flowers and the okra-like pods are quite distinctive, as is this herb's growth form. When broken, all parts of the plant produce a white latex, but there are many other plants with this characteristic. Overall, milkweed is a beautiful and very distinctive plant.
I am amazed that, as much attention as milkweed has received as a fiber crop and a butterfly planting, so little has been said about its use as food. Ethnographic records show that common milkweed was eaten as a vegetable by tribes throughout its range. It provides edible shoots (like asparagus), flower bud clusters (like broccoli), and immature pods (like okra). The soft silk inside the immature pods is a unique food, and the flowers are also edible. Milkweed conveniently provides one or more edible parts from late spring until late summer, making it one of the most useful wild greens to learn.
No, It's Not Bitter
If you've read the accounts of milkweed in any wild food books, you've probably heard that the plants are very bitter and need to be boiled in three changes of water before being eaten. This is simply not true of the common milkweed Asclepias syriaca. The repeated boiling process so carefully described by so many authors is completely unnecessary. Boiling once is perfectly sufficient.
In an article in The Forager, Vol. 1 Issue 2, "The Milkweed Phenomenon," I discussed the fact that, although most authors claim that milkweed is bitter, I had discovered none with such a taste in sampling the plant over many years in four Midwestern states. I attributed the discrepancy to a regional difference in flavor caused by hybridization with closely related inedible milkweeds found further east than the areas of my experience. This is apparently wrong. I was giving the authors who claimed it to be bitter the benefit of too much doubt.
I received word from a reader in New Jersey who says he's tried the plant from Maine to Georgia on hundreds of occasions and has never encountered any that was bitter. I also spoke with one individual from New York State, and one from Ohio, who refute that milkweed is bitter.
I talked at length with Peter Gail, a wild food instructor from Cleveland, Ohio, who was the only acquaintance who had told me that he had found milkweed to be bitter. In fact, it came out in our conversation that he had not personally found milkweed to be bitter. A participant in one of his workshops ate milkweed, which had been boiled in three water changes, and became sick. If water-changing supposedly eliminates the bitterness, what does this mean? Obviously, repeated boiling can't solve the problem of milkweed that makes people sick after being boiled three times. It sounds like a food allergy or intolerance to me. That can happen with any plant, and this is the only case that I've heard of for milkweed. If the participant had found the milkweed bitter, he probably wouldn't have consumed it.
It is unfortunate that so many stern warnings have been made about the use of milkweed as food. It is true that all parts of the plant contain small amounts of toxins. (A small amount of toxin is an everyday aspect of human diet.) The toxins in milkweed are washed out of the edible parts by boiling. A small amount of milkweed can be just thrown into recipes, but larger amounts, or milkweed that you plan to eat as a vegetable dish, should probably be boiled first and have the water discarded. After normal preparation milkweed is not a danger, unless you are that rare sensitive individual.
Shoots and Tops
Come late May, when oak and maple trees have just begun to adorn themselves with summer splendor, look for the thick shoots of milkweed pushing up among the dead stalks of last year's plants. This has become a springtime ritual for me. I visit the milkweed colonies anxiously, usually much too early - but I'm afraid of missing the best young shoots. Every few days I scour the fields hopefully until, finally, my eyes come to rest on an inconspicuous yet distinct spear of succulent promise. Kneeling to pinch it off at the base, I scan the lush new grass around it and spot a half dozen more. The milkweed season has begun.
It is often warned that milkweed shoots closely resemble those of dogbane, a mildly poisonous relative that also produces a milky latex. Of course, you must be positive of your identification before consuming any plant, but don't let anyone convince you that differentiating between milkweed and dogbane is prohibitively difficult. There are a number of differences. Dogbane shoots tend to come up a little earlier, so where the two plants grow side by side (which is not uncommon) they are usually taller. (This is not a reliable indicator, of course.) Dogbane shoots are always much thinner than those of milkweed, and they are usually reddish-purple on the upper part of the stem. Milkweed stems and leaves are minutely fuzzy, while dogbane stems are smooth. As the plants get older, the differences become more obvious, as dogbane tends to form several spreading stems, while milkweed shoots remain unbranched.
Milkweed shoots appear asparagus-like, except they have a few pairs of small leaves clasping their sides. The smaller they are, the better they taste - but as long as they bend easily and break off when pinched they are good to eat. Normal size is three to six inches.
Just boil the shoots in salted water until they are tender, which is usually twenty minutes or so. (All milkweed parts are cooked in roughly the same manner.) Despite the rather long cooking time, these shrink far less than most green vegetables. Milkweed shoots are almost universally liked. They are often compared to asparagus, but I think the flavor is highly reminiscent of green beans. As the plants grow taller, you can still eat them, using only the top few inches and removing all but the smallest leaves. At this stage they are never quite as good as the younger shoots.

Flowers and Fruit
In midsummer the unopened flower buds can be gathered. They look like miniature heads of broccoli but are softer. Dice up a small handful of these and toss them into a soup, casserole, pasta dish, stuffing, or stir-fry to excellent effect. To eat larger servings of the flower buds alone, boil them, drain the water, and season. Many people consider this the best part of the milkweed plant. I think they taste almost identical to the shoots and the pods. There is one small warning that must be made with milkweed flower buds: sometimes they are full of tiny monarch caterpillars.
Usually the first milkweed flowers in northern Wisconsin appear in early July. The blossoming season is over a month long. The multicolored flowers have a sweet, musky odor and are a favorite of insects. I have read that certain Native American tribes boiled and mashed the flowers to form a kind of sweet sauce, but I have not had any success with this. I have eaten the flowers in small quantities raw, and they have a rather pleasant flavor.
As the flowers wither away, seed pods will form in their place along the upper parts of the stem. Even though a cluster contains dozens of flowers, it rarely ends up producing more than four or five seed pods. In a season, an average milkweed stalk produces only four to eight pods. They first appear about the size and shape of a teardrop. When fully grown they will be three to five inches long. Until they are about two-thirds grown the immature pods make a superb vegetable. The smallest pods, under an inch long and still firm, are most desirable. When the pods are fully formed they become tough and unpalatable and should not be eaten.
Milkweed pods are excellent in stew, stir-fry, or eaten as a vegetable side dish. They are delicious with cheese and bread crumbs. The pods can also be made into pickles, but they become soft after boiling.
The best time to gather milkweed pods is late summer (from early August to early September around here). The size of the pods varies greatly from one plant to the next. An immature pod on one specimen may be larger than a full-grown pod on another, so determining which pods are immature can be tricky. The pods that are too old tend to be rougher on the outside than the young pods. They also tend to have more pointed, curved tips. These are tendencies, not rules, however. There are a few more reliable ways to determine the age of pods.
There is a line running the length of each pod, along which it will split open to release its seeds when mature. If you pull apart on both sides of this line and it splits open easily, the pod is probably too old to use. For the beginner, it is best to open up several pods and examine the insides to get an idea of which ones are in the proper stage for harvesting. In an immature milkweed pod (one that can be eaten) all of the seeds will be completely white, without even a hint of browning. The silk should be soft and juicy, not fibrous. It should be easy to pinch through the bundle of silk or to pull it in half. Immature pods are also plumper and harder than mature ones. Don't let this seem more complicated than it really is - with time you will know, at a glance, which pods to collect.
A few times each season I gather a large quantity of milkweed pods. I work my way through my favorite patch and fill a cloth bag, which doesn't take very long, since milkweed often grows in large, prodigious colonies. I leave the tiny pods for next time, and ignore those that are questionably old. When I get home I sort through the pods, keeping all of those less than about 1.5 inches long to be eaten whole. If I do not use these immediately, I can or freeze them (after parboiling). Milkweed pods, after they are picked, begin to toughen in a few hours, and may become unpalatable in a day or less.
The immature pods which are more than 1.5 inches long are used to make a unique food product that is called milkweed white at our house. Milkweed white is simply the silk and soft white seeds from immature pods. I open up each pod, remove the white from the inside, and discard the rind. (The rind is actually edible, but I don't find myself having the appetite to eat all of it that is left over.) When raw, milkweed white is sweet and juicy. (I only eat small amounts of it raw, however.) When boiled, it has a mild, pleasant flavor and a chewy texture. Mixed with other foods, the boiled white looks, tastes, and behaves surprisingly like melted cheese. In fact, most people assume that it is cheese until I tell them otherwise. I often add this boiled silk to rice, pasta, casseroles, and soup, and it has never disappointed me. (It will disappoint you, however, if you expect it to be exactly like cheese.)
The lowly common milkweed provides two different useful kinds of fiber (stalk fiber and silk), plus six different vegetables (shoots, leafy tops, flower buds, flowers, immature pods, and white). It is abundant, easy to recognize, familiar to many of us, and is a perennial that appears in the same place year after year. It's blossoms feed numerous kinds of butterflies, including our most beloved, as well as hummingbirds and honey bees. Pretty amazing, huh?

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Re: Milk weed what can you do with it

Post by pepperens on Sun May 17, 2009 6:45 am

The last article I left some info out on other mildweeds so you will want to go to the source ...I was unable to post the whole thing.

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Re: Milk weed what can you do with it

Post by pepperens on Sun May 17, 2009 6:53 am

This is also really neat -


Wild Food Recipe: Sautéed Milkweed Pods and Mushrooms
Category: Foraging, Fungi, Wild Food Recipes – jj_murphy – 8:02 pm
In this recipe, I removed the immature seeds - the inner white part of the milkweed pod. I looked for young pods, which tend to be small, rough textured, and do not split open easily.

I wanted to see if cooking the insides of the pod would make it stringy, like cheese. In this case, I used white mushrooms, so I could focus on the milkweed.

Ingredients


12-18 milkweed pods
1/4 cup cooking oil or butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
Preparation

1. Peel outer shell from milkweed pod and remove white center.
2. Discard any brown or discolored centers.
3. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add pod cores and boil for 2-3 minutes.
4. Remove pod cores from water, drain and set aside.
5. Coat skillet or cast iron pan with oil or butter.
6. Add onions and garlic, cook over medium high heat until golden.
7. Chop cooked pod cores.
8. Stir milkweed pod cores and mushrooms into mix.
9. Add liquid as needed until vegetables are cooked and pods are stringy.

I was amazed to discover that the texture of the immature seeds will get stringy, like mozzarella cheese, although the flavor is light and sweet.

The next time I cook the inner core of the pod, I am going to add herbs and spices to mushrooms, peppers or other veggies. I think these pods will work well in soup. I am also going to try to freeze them.

I did not cook and eat the outer pod, although many wild food cookbooks do have recipes.

The key to milkweed pods is to harvest them young. There was no bitterness, no need to change water or to struggle.

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Re: Milk weed what can you do with it

Post by pepperens on Sun May 17, 2009 6:54 am

I would poke around this website a bit - there are a lot of neat recipes.


http://www.writerbynature.com/2006/03/06/wild-recipe-chicken-of-the-woods-mushrooms/

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Re: Milk weed what can you do with it

Post by pepperens on Sun May 17, 2009 7:01 am

This simple website is a really good resource . There is a lot there.

http://foraging.com/

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Re: Milk weed what can you do with it

Post by pepperens on Sun May 17, 2009 7:03 am

Someone asked about mushrooms earlier and I wanted to post another link - here is a discussion forum on mushrooms

http://forum.downsizer.net/forum-26.html

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Re: Milk weed what can you do with it

Post by amybyrd21 on Sun May 17, 2009 7:17 am

Thank you so much This is awsome. I was the one that asked about mushrooms also. Smile I am reading on milkweed and mushrooms tonight.
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