Along the Grapevine

Milkweed Flowers

14 Comments

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Lately I have been writing about weeds which are so plentiful, even invasive, that foraging them can be done with impunity – things like grape leaves, lambsquarters and nettles. Milkweed does not exactly fit into that category. Although they are very plentiful where I live, I treat them with utmost care and encourage their proliferation. The reason for this is that they are valuable sources for the pollinators, especially the monarch butterfly which depends on them for survival. Our fields are a virtual oasis for butterflies next to a dessert of heavily treated cornfields where there is not a healthy weed in sight! I am so hoping the butterflies find their way this summer to our land of plenty. If you are interested in helping save the monarch butterfly, check out this article.

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There are many varieties of milkweed, but the one I am talking about is the common milkweed (asclepias syriaca), until recently considered a noxious weed in Ontario but now undergoing a change of status. It was considered noxious because the toxic milky substance is harmful to livestock. However, in light of the importance to the survival of the butterflies, we gardeners are now free to grow them in our gardens.

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There are several parts of the plant that are edible, as long as they are harvested at the right time. The young shoots, flowers, and seed pods when still small are all edible, although the usual precautions should be taken when first trying them, i.e. trying a small sample. I pick a few shoots which are growing in place where they interfere with my garden vegetables. In the fields, I pick only one flower or pod of each plant to ensure its survival. It is not something to eat in huge quantities, but if you have access to the plants, small amounts are wonderful to add to your favourite summer dishes at the appropriate times.

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Now is the time for the delectable flowers. Last year I offered a recipe for a soup made with the flowers. My new recipe is for devilled eggs, with just enough of the flower to give them a little extra crunch and flavour. I kept the ingredients simple so as not to overwhelm the delicate flavour of the flowers.

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Devilled Eggs with Milkweed Flowers

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 eggs, hardcooked

1 Tbsp cream cheese

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp milkweed florets

salt and pepper to taste

sumac powder or paprika and a few florets for garnish

Peel and cut the eggs lengthwise. Scoop out the egg yolks into a bowl and mash them with the cheese, mustard, florets, salt and pepper. If you want them creamier, add more cheese or a little mayonnaise. Fill the egg whites with the mixture. Garnish with a few more florets and sprinkle with the sumac or paprika.

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14 thoughts on “Milkweed Flowers

  1. So easy to make delights…
    Enjoy FIFA World Cup 2014
    with Pasta and basil clam sauce
    http://bit.ly/1lvj53W :)

  2. A weed = a wild plant growing where it is not wanted. I really don’t think you have any weeds in your fields! Love how you make use of all the wild bounty.

  3. I need to find someone like you who livesi n the UK

  4. These are so gorgeous Hilda. I am amazed how you do it. One had to be super educated about forages and weeds to use them in kitchen for cooking!

    • Thanks. Actually, I am far from super educated in the subject, but just focus on the easy-to-recognize, and for the most part easy-to-pick and handle. I think probably everyone can take advantage of a few familiar wild things in their everyday menu, at least once in a while. The fun part is coming up with new recipes.

  5. Oh my . . . I am just catching up on my blog reading since my trip and I am laughing to myself . . . I made deviled eggs with fennel pollen when just days earlier you made deviled eggs with milkweed flowers!!!! Our stars align!!!
    I thought of you today when we were out on our walk and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that along a cliff across from a house somebody had planted an enormous grape vine that is now growing like crazy attached to the cliff railings! I assume this is public property but it’s hard for me to believe so I’m gonna check it out before I go absolutely wild. Amazing!
    Thanks for the education on milkweed and lovely recipe here Hilda!

  6. How very beautiful those florets are! Never heard of this plant, but I read on Wikipedia that there’s a European variety also. Great idea in general to have blossoms with eggs.

    • Sorry, mixed it up with lambquarters (which is part of your next recipe), and it’s them who have a European variety. But milkweed is very beautiful, too, would love to taste them one day.

    • I am now fermenting some, which I think will be even better. The same thing goes with any edible blossoms. I also did the fermenting thing with dandelion buds, and they are lovely. It is so easy, but maybe I’ll post my ‘recipe’ anyway.

  7. Thank goodness it was removed from a list of noxious weeds. Milkweed is the food of the Monarch butterfly. I’d hate for people to be destroying it thinking its a weed! Help a butterfly, plant more milkweed!!!

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