Milkweed Bud Capers
Milkweed, despite its notoriety as a poisonous plant, can be not only edible but delicious. Monarchs have known this for a long time and some will shun eating monarch food, but as long as you’re only picking in areas where it’s plentiful and not taking too much, those monarchs will do just fine. Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, is safe and delightful in all stages of the plant's life if properly prepared. Any part of the plant (and almost all of it is good to eat) must be boiled for a few minutes prior to eating. This removes the toxins in the plant.
The buds, prior to the flowers starting to open, can be brined in a salty vinegar solution much like capers. They then offer that same tangy burst of salty goodness to any dish. When harvesting the buds, simply snip the central large stem of the whole flower but leave all the individual small stems to each bud intact, these will be dealt with later.
1 c buds
1 c white wine vinegar
1 c water
3 tbsp salt
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and on a second stove element bring another pot filled with the water, vinegar, salt solution to a boil at the same time.
Take the flowers and drop them in boiling water. Boil for a couple minutes and then remove and drop into the boiling brine solution. Boil for an additional 30 seconds and remove from heat.
Lay a towel over a plate. With a slotted spoon, scoop out bud bundles and place on towel. Snip the little stems off and scoop with a regular spoon into a mason jar. Top with hot brine liquid and add any black peppercorn, garlic, bay leaves, or whatever other spice you might prefer.
Enjoy on a bagel and schmear, in pasta with red sauce, or in a salad.
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