(Sorry, no pics with this post, just to see how it feels.)
Now, I have mostly a lot of love for Mother Maple, she who graces our backyard and fair skin with copious amounts of dark, cool shade and provides us with feather soft autumn leaves in which to plunge our lazy bodies. But. BUT. In the springtime, I find it a bit difficult to appreciate the... blatant fecundity of Old Mama Maple. There isn't one spot on our property (I exaggerate not) that isn't blessed with the bearing of one of Mother Maple's progeny. In other words, I end up weeding a whole heckuva lot of maple seedlings from my garden.
Only now... Now I know. Now I know how to beat Mama Maple at her own game. Tonight found me hanging lazily from branches and scaling that rough, shaggy trunk of hers to gather those green little whirlybirds. And then? And then I ATE THEM. Yes I did.
I'll admit, this is one of those situations where, in caloric terms, I'm not sure the end justifies the means. It took a loooong time to split the husks off of each of those little seeds. This is very slow food we're talkin'! You get a big pile of green husks and a little itty bitty pile of food. Still, there're going to be fewer maple saplings to remove from the garden this year...
In regards to preparation:
-Break off the green outer husk (they're still edible if the hulls are brown, but I've read that they get bitter at that point)
-Snack on a couple to see if they're sweet enough or if you have to boil off the tannins
-If bitter, boil and dump the water. Repeat until bitter taste is gone.
-Otherwise, boil until tender (mine took ~15 minutes).
-Season with salt, pepper, and/or butter to your fancy.
I have no experience with this, but you can also roast them or even dry the seeds and ground them into flour.
In regards to taste: I actually preferred them raw. The larger seeds seemed to be more bitter than the smaller ones. It's best to get 'em young, I guess. I boiled some, and they were good but quite bland. I salted them and smothered them in butter. All in all, for free food, it was good!