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Cattail Pollen Pancakes

Known as “The Supermarket of the Swamp” cattails can be consumed in several ways. Here the pollen is used as flour. (Eoban Binder/WFIU)

Cattail pollen adds amazing flavor to pancakes.

Cattail spears have two parts. The top part is where the so-called “pollen” lives. This part is the tightly packed flowers of the male section of the cattail spear. You will only find these in spring or early summer. Later in the season, this part will be a bare spike above the brown fluffy female part of the flower spear.

To harvest the pollen from the cattail, pick the cattail spears while they are still young, and the top section of the spear is still a bit green or yellow.

Pictured above is the tip of the green cattail. These tightly packed and pollen-laden flowers are the part you want for the pancakes.(Eoban Binder/WFIU)

Starting at the dividing line between the two parts of the cattail, strip the top part off using your thumbnail or a butter knife. You’ll need to collect a cup (packed down) for each batch of Chef Daniel Orr’s pancakes.

It takes about 1 cup of cattail “pollen” (pictured above) for one batch of pancakes.

Chef D's Cattail Pollen Pancakes


  • 1 cup cattail pollen
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoon agave syrup or 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  1. Combine ingredients and stir just until barely combined. Do not over-work the batter, some lumps are okay.
  2. Preheat a heavy skillet.
  3. Add oil to the pan and allow it to heat until just below the oil's smoking point. Make sure it is nice and hot--a drop of batter should sizzle on contact.
  4. Drop ladlefuls of batter onto the skillet into the sizes you prefer.
  5. Reduce heat if necessary, and cook until the batter has holes (from popped bubbles) and is starting to look a bit dry.
  6. Flip each pancake, and cook the other side until nicely browned.
  7. Remove from pan and enjoy with pure maple syrup and fresh berries.

Earth Eats Staff

Earth Eats Staff is a weekly podcast, public radio program and blog bringing you the freshest news and recipes inspired by local food and sustainable agriculture.

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