I will admit that I didn’t follow a single recipe for these two. The soup doesn’t have a recipe at all but I did take measurements so I could share the pickles with you. Neither is very complicated and you could make them both.
I’m not sure the soup was our favorite. When we had collected oysters on our trip to Clallum Bay, we had opted to save the “juice” and turn it into oyster stock for future recipes. That darn stock kept falling out of our freezer. Each time the container would break. After the third time, we decided it was time to use that stock. I had already decided to make cattail soup, thinking the long cooking would break down the fibers of the cattails.
I don’t think I’d make this with a fishy sort of stock again. It was way fishy and briney but I think a good beef stock would complement the cattails nicely. I think they’d make a nice replacement for okra in Gumbo. MMM – that makes me hungry.
The soup was not bad. I started by chopping up the cattails and sautéing them with butter and a chopped onion.
When they were soft and starting to brown, I covered the veggies in stock and let simmer for about an hour.
The cattails still had some tough spots but they weren’t unpleasant. The flavor of the cattails was good but as I said the stock was super fishy. We ate most of the soup but the worms did end up getting a serving or two.
Now the pickles are a different story. So far they are still a little on the tough side so I’m hoping that the vinegar will eventually break that down. In the meantime, we have the best tasting pickles I have ever made (and my family really likes my pickles).
I had started by going online to look for a cattail pickle recipe. I found a board where someone had asked for that same recipe. The response that resonated with me was to use a pickle recipe you already liked and use that for your cattails. I have pickle recipes I love. I was having a tough time choosing between my asian inspired pickles and my bread and butter pickles. Looking at the recipes, I wasn’t feeling either. They didn’t speak to me in the way I had hoped.
I decided to make them up as I went along. I make all my pickles with my own herb blends. At one point in time, I picked up a jar of pickling spices but I had never had a good reason to use them. This seemed like a perfect time.
I started with heating six cups of white vinegar (nothing fancy) with 4 cups of sugar. I threw in 1/2 cup of lime salt (salt leftover from making lime pickles but regular salt should be just fine) and the jar of pickling spices.
I stuffed a gallon jar with cattail shoots and then poured the brine over. I will say that I made too much brine for a gallon jar but that didn’t stop me from using that to make more pickles. This particular jar didn’t have a good lid so I’d recommend using one that has a screw on lid because your cattails will float right out of the jar. They also shrink so be prepared for that.
The next time I make these pickles, I’ll make two jars and divide the brine between them. It won’t make two gallons but it will allow me to consolidate the pickles as they shrink.
That is the same amount of cattails as in the jar up above.
10 cattail shoots (or whatever you like)
1 medium onion
4 cups broth
Chop the shoots and onion. Saute on med high heat in the butter until onion is tender and starting to brown. Cover in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for an hour.
6 cups white vinegar
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup salt
1 jar pickling spices (about 1/2 cup)
Cattail shoots (I used about 1 and 1/2 gallons)
Heat vinegar in a saucepan. Add sugar and salt, stir to dissolve. Add pickling spices. Let simmer for a few minutes while you stuff the cattail shoots into sterilized jars (I used a 1 gallon). Pour the brine over the cattails, reserving the extra. Cover so the cattails stay in the brine (or they will float to the top and poke out). Let sit in the refrigerator for 1 week to let the cattails fully pickle. Store in fridge. Use the excess brine to add to the pickles as you use them or to make more.