Chuck Kleine Published

EDIBLE MOUNTAIN – How To Cook Milkweed Pods

Edible Mountain - milkweed pods.jpg

When it comes to eating milkweed no one has a more refined palate than monarch butterflies. In their caterpillar state they feed exclusively on milkweed. Adult butterflies actually recognize and taste milkweed… with their toes.

Monarch Caterpillar

Chuck Kleine
A monarch caterpillar munching on some milkweed

These globe-trotting butterflies rely on the protective qualities that a milkweed diet affords them. The plant contains a white creamy latex that is made up of toxins called cardiac glycosides or cardenolides. A hungry robin will only eat a monarch larva once before praying to the porcelain gods and thinking, “Never again!”

(We’ve all been there.)

The milk is also toxic to animals including humans, but in that instance would have to be eaten in large quantities to cause death.

Milkweed pods, when prepared properly, are a delicious side dish, but they still should only be eaten in small quantities to avoid intestinal upset.


Steffi Hone

In this episode of Edible Mountain, Steffi Hone, (a.k.a. the Hunter/Gatherer/Cook) from Pendleton County, shows us when to pick the milkweed pods. Then she prepares a forager’s feast of buttermilk corn meal-breaded pods, steamed purslane with ramp vinegar and olive oil, Baharat-rubbed pork chops with a knotweed jelly in a white wine reduction and sautéed milkweed buds, along with polenta garnished with her homemade tart cherry jam (that is to die for).

EDIBLE MOUNTAIN How To Cook Milkweed Pods

Edible Mountain is a bite-sized, digital series from WVPB that showcases some of Appalachia’s overlooked and underappreciated products of the forest while highlighting their mostly forgotten uses.