Harvesting cattail shoots for food is easy. Simply grasp the shoot at its base, as close to the root as possible. You may have to press your hand into the mud an inch or so in order to do this. Then gently pull upward until the cattail shoot breaks off. You should be able to gather a large pile of shoots in no time at all.
Preparing Cattail Shoots
Peel cattail shoots because the outer layers are tough. They are very easy to peel off using your fingers alone. Be sure to keep the lower portion of the green leaves as they are especially tender and tasty.
Before eating, make sure to wash your cattail sprouts in clean water that has been treated to remove parasites and other nasty creatures. Your swamp may very well be harboring such intestinal pests as giardia. If you do not have clean water available, you can boil your cattail shoots for a short while in order to be on the safe side.
Cattail shoots can be gathered in large quantities and pickled, frozen, or canned.
The Edible Cattail
They taste like cucumbers. They are fine food eaten raw, boiled, steamed, or in salads. It seems they would contain a host of vitamins, minerals, and starch for the food energy you need to survive.