Cottonwood catkins are at a prime stage for eating.  We are surrounded by Cottonwood trees and have one in our front yard that is over 140 years old and stands at least 120 feet tall. There’s a 40′ rope swing from one of the branches. Luckily, it has one big branch that, quite handily, hangs low enough to harvest catkins (and buds earlier in the year.)

The catkins of a Cottonwood tree are easily identified. For eating, the best ones are plump, squishy and look like a bunch of tiny purple grapes. Once they start to flower, they’re flimsy and have hardly any substance. You can nibble on them raw for a foraging treat or harvest a few and make Cottonwood Catkin Tempura (just like any other vege – tempura battered and fried to golden brown.

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These catkins are ready to harvest.

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These catkins are starting to flower and past prime for eating.

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These have had the sticky hulls removed and are ready to eat.

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