It is such a pleasure finding food growing wild, especially on our farm. I had heard that milkweed is edible after finding a whole bunch of it in our wheat field. When there is a whole lot of something growing wild here, I try to find it's uses, edible or not.
Milkweed stalks can be eaten when they are just shooting up through the ground. I have read where you cook them like you would asparagus. Our milkweed is beyond that stage, but I had also read that you can eat the flower buds. So, one day, I went out in the field and found a few flower buds.
I sauteed them in butter and salt and took a bite, rather hesitantly. Oh my! What a delicacy! It has a hint of an artichoke flavor. As soon as my 10 year old daughter took a bite, she immediately left the house and took a hike out back and came back with a shirt full of them.
I went out after she came back with a bowl and some scissors. I cut of the flower buds and dropped them in my bowl. I tried my best not to touch the milky substance coming from the stems as it stinks and almost sticks to your skin like glue. Don't worry if you get a little in your frying pan. It won't taste bad!
I saw a lot of interesting bugs around the milkweed plants. I did see some monarch butterflies, but I also saw a bunch of these red bugs below. These strange bugs are actually Red Milkweed Beetles, not to be confused with Milkweed Bugs.
So, after picking a bunch of buds, I then cut off the buds from the stems that were attached to the stalk of the milkweed plant. I didn't worry about the little stems of each bud as it did not affect the taste.
Now for the easy part. Saute the butter and buds in a saucepan. I added salt to taste. Once the buds start to turn a little brown but not burnt, they are ready for you to eat.
I also put them in salads, and I think they would be wonderful in certain casseroles as an added bonus.
So, the next time you see milkweed plants with buds on them, pick a few and try for yourself. There are plenty to share with the many bug species that seem to like them too!