Eating Daylilies: Day Lilies (Hemerocallis) are not only beautiful, but also very delicious. For centuries, day lilies have been a staple food in many parts of Asia. All throughout the growing season the day lily can provide a variety of tasty foods including flowers, buds, leaf shoots, and potato like roots. The fast growing plants can often be found growing along roadsides in great abundance. Try them…you will be surprised, you’ll probably like them.
There are those who use the Day Lily (Hemerocallis species) for the flower garden. Consider another use for your Day Lily…all parts of the plant, the sprouting leaves that appear in the spring, the summer buds and blossoms, the leaves and even the rhizomes — are edible! After all, their blossoms last exactly as long as their name implies, both in English and in Greek (hemera means day and kallos means beauty). Think of the daylily as a charming, perennial vegetable, and immediately find a sunny spot for it to not only enjoy it’s beauty, but it’s tasty flavor as well!
Considered as a delicacy by wild food gatherers and knowledgeable chefs. The Day Lily has a long history in Chinese medicine and cuisine. Also, was originally brought to America by early settlers. Not only revered it for its ease of transport across the seas and its success in alien soil. But also for its nourishing food as well. It can be dined on for months.
First harvest takes place in early spring, when the tasty and tender young foliage appears. At this time, you can cut the 3- to 5-inch outer leaves from their grassy clump, taking care not to damage the flowering stalks. Similar in taste to creamed onions when simmered or stir-fried in oil or butter, the leaves may also have a mild uplifting effect. Indeed, the Chinese used them as a painkiller.
Second harvest is during the summer when the Day Lily flower buds and blossoms appear. Moreover, are the sweetest, most delectable parts of the plant. Also, can be eaten at all stages of their growth, raw or cooked.
Parts to Eat
Tightly closed flower buds and the edible pods add interest to salads. But also can be boiled, stir-fried or steamed with other vegetables. Equally, blossoms, with their flowery taste and slightly mucilaginous texture, add sweetness to soups and vegetable dishes. Likewise, half opened, fully opened and even day-old Day Lily blossoms may be dipped in a light batter of flour and water. Then fried in a wok, tempura style. Comparatively, dried Day Lily petals, called “golden needles” by the Chinese, are an ingredient in many Chinese recipes. Including hot-and-sour soup.
At almost any time of growth you can harvest the thick, fleshy, tuber- like roots. As a matter of fact, you will find them quite crisp, with a nutty flavor. Also, they can be eaten raw on the spot, or added to salads. In addition, to all kinds of soups and stews. Also, boil, stir-fry or cream them. Additionally, serving them as a side dish in place of potatoes. Dal Lily roots are at their best in late fall or winter. After they have stored nutrients from summer growth. Of course, this is the best time to rejuvenate any overgrown clumps. Dig the plant up carefully, divide the sausage-shaped roots. Then select a number of firm, white ones for your table. Then replant — or share — the rest. Furthermore, the roots are sometimes used in China for their mild diuretic and laxative properties..
Day Lily leaves, flowers and tubers are listed in virtually every book as edible. However, some people have allergic reactions to unusual compounds in plants. Moreover, it’s important to be cautious. The first time you sample any part of a Day Lily, taste only a small piece. Most importantly, have someone with you. Then,wait at least an hour before trying more. Take small amounts, tasting before swallowing. And if it tastes bitter, too spicy, weird or unpalatable, don’t swallow it. Spit it out.
Preparing The Day Lily for Eating
1. Dig the plant to expose all parts. Likewise, the root tubers. Pinch off the opened blooms, if you desire to cook them. Then, place remaining in a refridgerator for later. As a matter of fact, the opened blooms are edible too!
2. Wash off all parts you are going to cook. Best choice: a garden hose and spray nozzle.
3. Flower buds are edible and may be cut, prepared like green beans. Additionally, they are best collected when nearly full grown and about to bloom. And are quite delicious. But won’t taste like green beans. Equally, they are also good in stir fries.
4. The new flowers and buds act like okra in liquids. And added taste like a gelled character.
5. Prepare: simply cut the 1 inch long football shaped tubers from the roots, wash the dirt off. And boil in salted water for 15 minutes. They have a unique buttery taste, similarly like potatoes. But the older tubers develop a papery (but transparent skin), which some people find annoying. However, the cooked tubers are easily squeezed out of their skin after being cooked. In addition, young leaf shots are cut in the early spring (long before the flowers appear) the older outside leaves may be pealed away. Therefore, revealing an edible stalk of young leaves. These may be sliced and used in salads. Or cooked whole like asparagus. Just boil for a few minutes, drain, add salt and butter, then serve.