Is the Devil’s Claw Edible

(Frank) Hi, we’re back again. So, oh my. We really do have a lot of fun on this show, and we are so happy that you join us. Now again we’re going to put another plug in for where we are, and that is the Dillon House which is in Topeka right across from the State Capitol. I’m pointing that way because today the room that we’re in, the capitol’s over there. (Deb) Sometimes the capitol moves, sometimes it’s over there, over there, over there. (Frank) And sometimes it’s over there, it does move around. (Deb) Yes, it moves around sometimes. (Frank) Anyway, you have a neat story coming up. Give us a little bit of a prelude to it. I don’t know what this is but I wonder, “Does it taste like crab or lobster?” (Deb) Not exactly, no, Devil’s Claw. I’m just messing around the barnyard and there’s this, we’ve got sunflowers all over the place and all kinds of other weeds and it’s a lot to keep up. But I’m always coming across something that I’m not familiar with, and the Devil’s Claw was blowing. Dr. Jake is explaining about the Devil’s Claw and I’m like, “Wow and it’s got pods on it” and I’m like, you know me, “is it edible?” and one of my friends said, “I don’t know why anybody would want to”. So I start looking around. I started doing research, and the seeds are edible and there’s a great book, can I grab this book real quick? All right. Frank, I found this great book. This is so good. Edible Wild Plants Of The Prairie – who knew – Kelly Kindscher or Kindscher. I’m sorry Kelly if I’m not getting your name correct. This is an amazing book and right here is a photograph of Devil’s Claw and they’ve got all these great little drawings of all these plants. But he talks about what the Indians would have used the plant for, and if they would have eaten it. And he makes all these historic references like the Stephen Long Expedition, did they talk about this specific plant, so it’s a fantastic book. Well, long story short, I had to try Devil’s Claw and it’s got the texture of okra, so I fried some up and I’m like, “Here Dr. Jake, try it” and he’s like, “I don’t like okra. Why would I try- [Laughter] (Deb) – why would I try this?” Some people just have no sense of adventure but how can — do you like okra? (Frank) No. (Deb) What’s wrong with you people? (Frank) Well, it depends on how it is fixed. I mean just okra and eat it, no. (Deb) Well, if it’s fried, if it’s fried like a — roll it in enough cornmeal and sprinkle enough stuff and fry it in some good grease. Yes, it’s all-good. Rolling cornmeal and fry it in grease, it’s good. (Frank) There you go. (Deb) All right. (Frank) Little bacon. [Laughs] (Deb) Bacon grease, that’s the best. Let’s take a look. It is called unicorn plant, proboscis flower, cat’s claw and ram’s horn. Most Kansans refer to it as Devil’s Claw because when the pod dries and splits apart, it forms two sharply hooked claws or horns. The dried pods had littered the barnyard; they were obviously meant to be used in floral arrangements. But those green pods, those bright green pods that look like okra gone awry, could they be useful? Useful, yes, and tasty! I posted the photo of the plant on Facebook and got all sorts of advice on preparing the pods, mostly pickling. But some sources said it could be fried. So I cut some up, rolled it in cornmeal and fried it like okra. It was pretty good, a slight bitter aftertaste, but pretty good. Then I found Kelly Kindscher’s book, Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie, and it suggested boiling in salt water to tenderize. Another friend, Cindy Tune, said soaking in milk would take the bitter away. I will try both. Fortunately, we are blessed with Devil’s Claw enough to experiment. The plant has a strong odor and is usually found in sandy soil, fields or pastures. We have lots of space that fits that description! Devil’s Claw, another reminder to take time to learn about the world around you, even if that world is just the barnyard.
(Frank) Well, I think they want us to get out of here, so I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m sure they do, Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere- (Both) – Around Kansas.

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