While I'm not a complete virgin wildcrafter, I might as well be for all the experience I've had gathering wild foods, and this year was my first to try milkweed. The sprouts are tender and deliciously sweet, with a taste reminiscent of asparagus (around the leaves) and green beans (the bottom of the shoot). Milkweed was apparently a common staple of Native Americans' diet, and they enjoyed first the sprouts, then the flower buds, then the immature pods, then the "silk" inside slightly older pods. If we are here till summer's end, I shall try all the stages and report back in on how I find each.
This is a really good article by Samuel Thayer on common milkweed (identifying, gathering, eating, etc) that I recommend reading if you want to get wild with your food, too. (O how I would love to take a class with someone like Mr Thayer to learn more about living off the land. Might have to get ahold of his books and that DVD.)
The milkweed I gathered was definitely of the common variety, and like the aforementioned article said, I did not have to boil it in multiple changes of water to get rid of the bitterness; they weren't bitter at all. We ate the first harvest boiled, then sautéed. I made soup out of the second today, which we'll have tonight or tomorrow. Very simple, but tastes good:
Boil 1 pound of sprouts, drain and toss water. Sauté a small onion and a garlic clove in a scant tablespoon of olive oil. Add sprouts and chicken stock (I used homemade stock--very thick), and added just enough water to cover. Boil until sprouts are very tender. Mix (in blender or with whatever you have) until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.
And now the poem that the title of my post is ripped from:
TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME.
by Robert Herrick
GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying :
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer ;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may go marry :
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.
Ah, spring has me inhaling happiness, so much so that I want to wax poetic about it. You are saved from that because pjthompson already took care of it for me with her updated Poetry selection.