Foraging Question, Are Maple Seeds Edible? Will I Get Sick?

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Squirrell eating maple seeds edible in winter

Last Updated On December 7, 2020

Let’s Eat! Are The Beloved Maple Seeds Edible?

Maples seeds are edible and the benefits that come from consuming the maple seed include proteins, vitamins, minerals and oils including Omega 3, 6 and 9.

Please consult your doctor and bushman before you even think about stuffing your stomach full of raw maple seeds! You have been warned.

Adventurers sometime face the difficult predicament of wondering if something in the wild is edible or not. There may be an infinite number of reasons as to why one would end up in this situation.

Sometimes supplies were not prepared or adequetly rationed or consumed ahead of time. But if one knows what is safe to eat when outdoors then this skill alone is enough to provide you with some peace of mind. Once during the winter,

I was spending the night camping and even though I had food I saw someone eating what i knew were maple seeds. I was surprised because growing up I used to play with the seeds or what we knew back than and affectionately called “helicopters”.

I never imagined they could also be a source of food. This left me wondering if the maple tree seeds are edible.

What is maple and where can I find it?

Translucent green young maple seed see through in sunlight

Maple seeds are widely known by different terms, such as the before mentioned know them as “helicopters” but other countries and continents know Maples seeds as “Samaras”, “Keys”, and “Whirligigs”.

Maple seeds come in pairs enclosed in a pod that are fused and a “winged” at one of the sides.

Maple seeds are usually eaten during winter as a survival food; Maple seeds can be eaten at any of its phases, from green to brown, however they tend to be harder to peel when they are green and according to the type of tree from they are harvested have an effect on their flavor, more specifically on their bitterness.

Maple trees are one of the kind of trees in which a phenomenon called “alternate bearing” that means that seeds can be harvested one year but not the following, as the tree suffers from stressed growing conditions.

Focusing on the season, as with most wild edibles, maple seeds are better if collected during spring, and by better, it means that it has a better flavor.

The season of the year in which a maple tree sheds their pods is different for each species, as well as the amount of time they do it.

So, it might not be appropriate to classify the maple seeds as a seasonal fruit. Due to the fact that maple seeds can be harvested throughout the year and is why it should be considered a survival food.

It’s certainly a robust edible as it can grow in winter, everybody knows that winter is the most difficult season to see any harvest due to the cold temperature in northern areas.

Maple trees can found around the globe, with most species growing in Asia, and some others in Europe and North America.

It has around 125 species, in North America they can be found in coldest places in abundance, but conversely in some of the most humid parts of America too such as the southernmost parts of NA, in places like Florida albeit in lesser quantities and smaller sizes.

Selecting Maple trees

Spring maple tree and ripening seeds hang in sunlight

Make sure to pick the pods from the tree branches rather than from the floor this reason is straighforward and is due to hygeine.

But if you have to make not that maple seeds are fully ripe when they turn from their natural green color to a brown color and these can be picked from the floor instead of the trees.

In the USA, maple trees can be found throughout the whole country but there are more species located at the north, while less and smaller species can be found at the south, like in Florida for example.

In North America maple trees have a variety of species, including:

Sugar maple Black maple Red maple Silver maple

The maple syrup is normally taken from the sugar maple, even though all of those species are capable of producing sugary edibles.

Maple seeds are easily extracted, though the greener they are, the harder it will be to peel them, but you will get to the seeds just right after peeling the pod off.

Advice when peeling off the seeds: Soak them in a bowl full of water for an hour to make this process easier.

Eating Maple seeds

Colorful young red and green maple seed leaf macro black background

The whole point of this piece is to let you know that maple seeds are edible (and delicious), and there are many ways to eat them.

First thing that is important to know is the flavor, the flavor varies from tree to tree and species and also the size and season matter.

Bigger seeds will typically have a stronger bitter flavor, smaller seeds are know for having a sweeter taste.

If the seeds are harvested during spring they will be sweeter than if they were harvested in the following months of the year.

However, if a maple seed turns out to be a little bit too bitter in its raw form (maple seeds can be eaten raw), they can be boiled in water for around 15 minutes or until they are soft enough to dissipate the bitterness.

After they have been boiled, you can add salt, pepper or even butter.

Maple seeds can also be eaten after roasting them, in order to roast the seeds place them in the over with some oil and an adequate amount of salt and bake for around fifteen minutes or until they turn into a brown color.

Seeds can also be an amazing addition to salads as they can give a crunchy taste to it, or also as seasoning after grinding them, after the seeds are turned into powder they can even be used as a flour replacement.

In Conclusion

Maple seeds are not exactly what we might think of at first when it comes to a tasty snack, but it turns out to be a huge surprise for many when they first eat them.

It serves as an amazing survivor food thanks to its proteins and oils and how they can be harvested around the whole year including winter, despite the differences in flavor that this might mean.

Maple seeds have nothing to envy to the maple syrup as it is a flavor powerhouse on its own.