Pretty cattail, fluffy cattail, flour cattail! What flour? Turns out flour can be extracted from cattails from which you can make mighty fine Cattail Pancakes.

I have been way overdue for an unusual ingredient post! If you are a regular reader you know how I like to find and cook with unheard of, rare or unusual ingredients…or come up with crazy recipes. I think I have a really good one for you. I was in the foodie shop of an abbey near my cottage with a friend and she spotted a bag of cattail flour. Say what? It was pricey at 10$ for an 8 ounce bag but I had to try it. On the package was included the recipe for these Cattail Pancakes!

cattail pancakes cut vertically

So I want to know who asked the following question: I wonder if we can extract flour out of cattails?

These plants are commonly found in marshes, wetlands and ditches along highways. Depending on which country you are from, you may know the Typha plant as cattail, bulrush, reedmace, punks, corn dog grass, or even cumbungi. But we all recognise this plant instantly from it’s distinctive shape.

Cattails are used in making chair seating, fiber, paper, building materials, and even bio-fuel. And we can use it is the kitchen! FYI avoid cattails that grow in polluted water as the plant can accumulate any toxins.


source: flickr Jeffrey Kontur

cattail flour

Eat your cattails

There are actually several parts of the cattail plant which are edible:

  • The rhizomes, high in protein, can be processed into a flour. What is a rhizomes? It is the modified subterranean stem of a plant that sends out roots.
  • The heart of young plants can be peeled and eaten raw or boiled, kind of like asparagus.
  • The leaf bases can be eaten raw or cooked when young.
  • Pollen can  be harvested from male flowers when they are mature. It is used as a flour supplement or thickener.

cattail pancakes batter

As mentioned before, the flour is made from the starchy rhizomes. The long process involves chopping and pounding the rhizomes with water, letting the mixture settle, draining the water and drying out the leftover starch from the fibers. The dried starch is then ground into a flour.

The flour will have a natural beige-yellow hue to it. Bonus: it is a gluten-free flour so everyone can enjoy these cattail pancakes!

cattail pancakes without and with levener

Cottage cooking challenges

I love the challenge of cooking at the cottage because sometimes you start a recipe and you realize you do not have an ingredient. In this case we started mixing the dry ingredients with the wet for these cattail pancakes and then, oops, no baking soda in the pantry! So the first ones on the left in the photo above are made without a leavener. I made the cattail pancakes recipe again in the city with the baking soda. No that is a chemistry lesson in action!

They look completely different: on the left flat but cool marks from cooking, on the right the pancakes are fluffier and evenly browned. The texture was good in both cases and the taste was pretty much the same. I guess the closest comparison would be buckwheat pancakes.

cattail pancakes breakfast

A perfect cottage weekend breakfast plate with a much more rustic presentation. Devouring these ‘closer to nature’ cattail pancakes tasted that much better when eaten in their natural environment.

Have you ever seen cattail flour?
If so, did you try it or bake with it?
What unusual flours have you come across in stores?

Want to check out some of my other Evelyne’s Unusuals posts? Here are just a few of my discoveries: Labrador tea, banana flower and vine leaves.

Curious about a Breakfast with Cattail Pancakes?

Turns out flour can be extracted from cattails from which you can make mighty fine Cattail Pancakes.
5 from 2 votes
Course Breakfast
Servings 5 medium or 8 small pancakes


  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 up of cattail flour


  • Beat the egg, water, salt and baking soda in a bowl.
  • Mix in the cattail flour, a bit at a time. Mix until homogeneous.
  • Heat a little oil in a skillet on medium and pour 2 ounces (3 ounces for medium size) of the batter into the hot skillet.
  • Flip the pancakes when eyelets appear in the batter and finish off cooking until slightly golden. Serve warm with syrup.