Pickled Milkweed Pods
Milkweed Pods are the young flower pods of the ever important Milkweed plant - Asclepias syriaca - foraged in natural fields and meadows throughout southern Ontario and Quebec.
Milkweed is an important plant as its leaves are the primary food of the Monarch butterflies' caterpillar. The plants are also a great food source for people. The young shoots, flowers, as well as flower buds and pods can all be eaten. Our milkweed pods are preserved in a light marinade of cider vinegar and spices. Like a pickle, they make a unique and tasty appetizer; they're sweet, supple and floral, with a vinegar kick.
They can be served as an hors-d'oeuvre or can be added to a risotto. Chef David Wolfman (Cooking with the Wolfman on APTN television) makes a delicious pasta with them. They are also essential ingredient on a Canadian charcuterie board used as a garnish in a vodka martini. Milkweed pods make an excellent fresh summer vegetable picked when they are young and tender, no more than 1.5 inches long.
You can cook them like any other vegetables; common milkweed is not bitter or toxic like some would believe (however, if you have severe reactions to latex you may want to avoid eating and handling milkweed plants). It has a floral pea like flavour that is milk and yummy. When cooking with fresh pods you can hollow the premature silk out and stuff with cheese and deep fry the pods or leave the silk inside and it becomes cheese like in constancy. The flowers can be used to make a strong flower syrup in teas or as an edible flower in other cooking. The flower buds can be used to make wild milkweed fritters. Milkweed may create many seeds with each pod but keep in mind to leave several on each plant so it can come back year-to-year. Eating the pods does not impede on the Monarch butterflies food source.
Beyond just culinary uses Milkweed can be used in making garments, the silk in the seed pods makes a great insulator for pillows or jackets and the latex serves many industrial and medical uses. Milkweed does have some medicinal qualities; however people who are pregnant, have high blood pressure or heart conditions might want to limit themselves.