And what kills me is I cannot remember where I first read* that you can eat the flowers and fruit. Not in the books of Bradford Angier, Steve Brill, not Euell Gibbon - all silent on the subject of yucca. A mystery. Was it a blog? I subsequently found a few web references but precious little information on how to prepare the fruit, aside from boiling them up in a desert stew or roasting it in ashes. So here we go.
[* Update, 3:17pm: Ha! An email from Gabrielle Langholtz jogged my memory: Billy Joe Tatum's Wild Foods Field Guide and Cookbook; she gave it to me a few weeks ago. He also recommends candying the flowers and boiling the seeds, once removed from the pods.]
Above - yucca flowers. This is Yucca filamentosa, growing at the Pier 44 garden, Red Hook. Before I knew you could eat the flowers or fruit.
I nibbled on a blossom in the Rockaways recently, off a sandy path between beach plum and bayberries on the way to the sea. It tasted fine. Vegetal, pleasant, soft. Then I potted the pods on another plant and pounced. Yee ha! The happiness of the forager.
Later I found more at Dead Horse Bay.
Now I had yucca. Sliced across, they are pretty in a tripartite way. I decided to peel the green skin off.
The white part inside, destined to become seeds, was very slightly mucilaginous, and had a hint of bitterness. Like green bean crossed with a bitterish cucumber. It had potential. But I ran out of steam. It's hard work peeling these peanut-sized pods, and I had other things on other burners. Milkweed pods on one, dolmades on another. And it was hot.
Fortunately I had a solution: when in doubt, pickle.
So there they are. Pickled. Take that, you, you yucca, you...
For good measure I added a teaspoon of bayberry fruit to the mix. We'll investigate in about three weeks?