TJF Originals

TJF Originals, Treats

Cattail Pollen Cookies: The Joyful Forager's Truly Original Recipe

Cattails have been called nature's supermarket because every part of this plant can be prepared as food or supplies.

The pollen that forms on the male flower head has the texture of pastry or bread flour and has been used in pancake and biscuit recipes for millennia.

Searching online for a cattail pollen cookie recipe, asking fellow foragers and posting to social media foraging groups yielded no cookie recipe.

There was nothing else for me to do but embrace the opportunity, and invent cattail pollen cookies.

Find my step-by-step directions for harvesting cattail pollen after the recipe.

Once you get home, the cattail pollen has to be sifted two or three times to remove bits of seed head fluff or any other non-pollen material. But once you sift the golden yellow powder, it's ready for use. Cattail pollen has remained fresh in my freezer for over two years. If it's in the refrigerator, it gets eaten within a few weeks, not because it is perishable, but because pollen is also delicious in salads, cereal and even as a thickener for soups and stews.

Here is my standard basic cookie recipe which makes it easy to create variations on the theme: 

JJ's Basic Cookie Recipe                                                                                                                                  1/2 cup coconut oil
3/4 cups of sugar - I use turbinado sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 cups of unsifted pastry flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs flavor:
vanilla, maple syrup, rose water, or hazelnut
1/2 cup texture:
rose petals, pecans, walnuts, butternuts, cacao nibs, dates, coconut, oatmeal

JJ's Recipe Revamp                                                                                                                         

In this recipe I did not want any flavors or textures to compete with the cattail pollen so my revamp of myself used:

1/2 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
10 oz unsifted pastry flour
2 oz cattail pollen
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Timeline                                                                                                                                                                  Late Spring to Early Summer: Once a year cattails produce pollen, usually in June in Northeast part of North America. Gather pollen when you see the top male cattail heads covered in bright yellow pollen. You can store the pollen in a freezer for at least one year.

Once harvested, sift the pollen to remove any bits of fluffy cattail flower head or other material. Once sifted, store in air tight containers in the freezer.

One Hour Before:                                                                                                                                           Combine coconut oil (or butter if you prefer) and sugar. If you use white sugar, the cookie may swell in size while baking.                                                                                                                                                  Combine flour, cattail pollen, baking powder and salt.                                                                                   Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly and let the mixture cool in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.

Thirty Minutes Before:                                                                                                                                          Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Heat oven to 300 degrees
Remove mixture from refrigerator and make walnut size balls of dough
Place on cookie sheet and flatten to about 1/4 inch thick

15 Minutes Before:                                                                                                                                               Put cookies in preheated oven and bake 10 - 15 minutes, until underside of cookie is golden brown.           Remove from oven and let cookies cool before putting them on a dish.                                                       Serve and enjoy!

How to Harvest Cattail Pollen                                                                                                                       What You Will Need:                                                                                                                                    -Long thin bags, like a paper baguette bag
-Waders or other footwear to wade into wetlands
-Cattails growing in an area with no visible signs of pollution

Cattails typically grow in dense clusters, which makes foraging easier, but they grow in wetlands, marshes and other moist areas, which makes foraging a bit more of a challenge.

Cattails are part of Nature's clean-up crew, so look for a stand of cattails in an area that is not near a waste treatment plant or other industrial activity.

The brown cigar-shaped seed head is an unmistakable identifying feature of cattail. In the winter, these brown seed heads turn into a white fluff, which makes it easy to locate a stand of cattails before the tender shoots emerge in the spring.

Some people create small ponds as part of the landscape design on their property. It's possible to transplant the cattail rhizomes and grow them in these ponds.

When it comes to collecting cattail pollen, if you listen to the prevailing advice and shake the pollen into a paper or plastic bag, some of the pollen will land in the bag. A lot more will fly in to the air and land on you. A better strategy is to cover the entire flower head with a
bag and cut the flower head. Those long slender bags that baguettes come in work very well for this purpose.

There is a very short window of time when the pollen is available for collecting. Some years you only have a few days. Look for the fattest seed heads for the most pollen.

Once you have collected a number of seed heads, you will need to bring them home and sift the pollen to remove and fibers or insects. The pollen can be eaten raw sprinkled on salad, cereal or added to yoghurt. It can also be added as a thickener to soups and stews.

Some people claim it can be used as a substitute for saffron. That may be true for the color, but cattail pollen has a delicate flower taste. The fewer ingredients in the cattail pollen recipe, the more you will be able to taste the delicate cattail pollen flavor.

The pollen has no leavening agent, so when baking with it, you need to mix it with flour.

Whether you make pancakes, biscuits or cookies, the color of the dough will be a dazzling sunshine yellow.

 

 

TJF Originals, Entrees

Acorn Sliders: A Delicious, Hearty Burger Alternative

               Hearty Acorn Sliders have a smoky, meaty flavor

              Hearty Acorn Sliders have a smoky, meaty flavor

Acorns are probably my favorite foraged food now that I know how to make them tasty. They are nutritious and filling. As an urban/suburban forager, I have a freezer instead of a wood stove, which works best for storing the white oak acorn species I typically gather. When I am ready for acorn burgers, I take out the amount of acorns I need for each recipe. Every once in a while, I have a few days to spend in the kitchen. I will prepare more acorns than I needs and put the prepared acorn in freezer bags to use as needed. Acorns stored in their shell in the freezer have lasted three years or more in my deep freeze. If I make a large amount of chopped acorns to freeze for later use, I try to use that within a year.

Acorns are the original slow food. Acorns in the white oak family will release their tannins more quickly than red oak acorns. In an ideal world, I'd live near a fast moving stream and let Nature do the work. But even in the 21st Century, acorn preparation can be timed to your daily schedule. Once you defrost and remove the shells from the acorns, chop them in your food processor, or if you're stubborn like me, chop them by hand. I fill a five gallon pot with water and bring it to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and add acorns that have been shelled and chopped. This is the slow food part. Let the acorns soak for six or more hours. Go to work or whatever you have to do. When you come home, drain the water. I save a bit of the water to use on my skin to soothe insect bites or sunburn. Discard the rest. Fill the five gallon pot with fresh water, bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat. This part is critical. If you boil the acorns in the water, they will be mushy. Let the acorns soak. Do this again before your go to bed. In the morning, taste one or two acorn pieces. If your mouth goes dry, start with a clean pot of water and repeat the process. The acorns will taste mild, maybe even sweet when the tannins are completely removed. Once the acorns are ready, you can put them back in the food processor for a finer texture.

Timeline
2-3 Days Before:
Prepare acorns, remove shells, chop acorn nut meats, soak rinse 3-4 times
Prepare wild garlic, clean, separate bulbs from greens
1 Hour Before:
Chop onion and garlic
Mix ingredients and form acorn slider patties
30 Minutes Before:
Preheat oven - line a cookie sheet with foil
Heat oil - crisp acorn sliders on both sides, remove from oil, drain
Place sliders on cookie sheet
10 Minutes Before:
Place cookie sheet in oven for 10 minutes
Serve


Shopping List
Foraged Items:
5 cups prepared Acorns
1-2 bunches Wild garlic
Produce:
1 onion medium size
1-2 cloves cultivated garlic
Pantry Items:
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp sea salt
1 cup quick oats or old fashioned oats
1/2 cup cooking oil