Along the Grapevine

Eat Shoots and Score

20 Comments

Since moving to this house, I have been plagued with an overabundance of day lilies – the bright orange ones you often see in mid-summer along the roadsides and in neglected areas. They are pretty in their way, but should never be allowed anywhere near a flower or vegetable bed, because they are wickedly invasive. I’m sure I have pulled out at least a million, and have hardly made a dent in them. And they keep finding new places to grow.

Their botanical name is hemerocallis fulva. They have several common names, but I just know them as ditch lilies. I don’t have a picture of them that I can find, but here is a picture from Wikipedia of what they look like.

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Day Lily in Bloom – photo from Wikipedia

I have always known they were edible, but only eaten the flowers before, and had little interest in any other part. However, my attitude to invasive weeds is changing, and my curiosity got the better of me as I tried to liberate our maple trees from the small shoots growing around them. Maybe I was hungry at the time, but these neat little shoots looked tasty.

I dug some up, along with a few of the tubers attached to them. As long as they are 6 inches tall or less, the shoots are tender and not fibrous. The flavour is sweeter than leeks or onions, and can be used in much the same way. I also collected a few of the tubers which I found taste like water chestnuts. Because I wanted to check out the taste, I added no other flavours – just sauted the shoots and tubers in a little olive oil and added salt and pepper. I used only a few (about 10 shoots and 6 tubers, peeled)  because since this was my first time eating them, I wanted to be sure no one in the household had any reaction. I’m happy to report that no one has!

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1. Find a patch of day lilies

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2. Make sure they are day lilies

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3. Dig them up with attached tubers

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Remove only plump firm tubers about 1 inch in length

 

 

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Clean shoots and remove any wilted or damaged leaves

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Prepare as you would onions or leeks

A word of caution:  Although these shoots are pretty easy to identify, especially if you know where they grow, be absolutely sure you know what you are picking. Taste a small amount at first to be sure you don’t have a reaction to them. I have read different statistics – anywhere between 2 and 10 per cent of the population will get a stomach upset from them. I also read some allusion to large quantities having hallucinogenic effects, but nowhere did it specify what constitutes large quantities. My advice would be to err on the side of moderation at first, and increase the amount slowly, and never eat too much of anything anyway – no matter how good it tastes.

Now that I have sampled them, I can say they are delicious, easy to prepare, and have no ill effects on my physical or mental state. They are a welcome, fresh local vegetable at a time when these are hard to come by. I look forward to coming up with some new day lily recipes, and to being less distressed by their presence in my gardens.

 

Fiddleheads on Punk Domestics
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20 thoughts on “Eat Shoots and Score

  1. Great informative post, Hilda. The base of those shoots look so much like green onions/ scallions to me. Since these are sweeter than leeks or onions, they might go well with bitter greens. Also, clever and spot-on title for your post! Made me laugh. :)

    • Thanks so much. Glad you liked the title – wasn’t too sure about it myself. You are right about the sweetness. I stir-fried some of the tubers with garlic and dandelion leaves, and it was delicious.

  2. Another great, informative post Hilda! You’re such a wealth of knowledge. And I agree with Ngan…fabulous and witty title. :)

  3. Hilda,
    Your posts amaze me and educate me everytime! Something new I learn! I never knew that these guys are edible !

  4. Great post, Hilda! The shoots look just like scallions!

  5. I’ve had the flowers but haven’t tried the shoots or roots, probably b/c I read that same info about upset stomach. I have lots of day lilies, I should try a tiny bit to see what would happen.

    • You might be pleasantly surprised. I was very cautious at first, but now I think the day lilies just didn’t get the good publicity that other wild edibles got.

  6. Score indeed! What a wonderful way to deal with weeds :)

  7. Every time I read your posts I think you are slowly turning into a botanist, and as a gardening fan myself I appreciate it because I learn so much! :)

  8. Thanks. I wish I were I were a botanist, but have no memory for those Latin words. I mostly just stick to the easy to recongize things, but I envy those people who are experts at it. Anyway, I am so glad you get something out of it.

  9. Love the title of this post!! Very interesting read and the pictures look really yummy.

  10. Thanks so much. I think it will be fun to cook these in many different ways – the easiest foraged food I know of.

  11. Hi Hilda
    Thoroughly enjoyed this blog. I am one of those gardeners though who love day lilies (Hemerocallis fulva) for their look and how quickly they spread. We must remember that a weed is only a plant that grows where we do not want them to grow and I have such a large area I like to garden that a quick spreader is often a welcome addition. It is wonderful information to know that I can do other things with these hardy lilies.

  12. Thanks Brenda for reading my blog and commenting. I like the lilies well enough, just not in my little flowerbeds. I certainly never have to worry about over harvesting them. There will always be plenty to flower in the later summer.

  13. Great idea – I’ve had lily bulbs (more like lilium regale) before, which I thought were pretty bland tasting and floury. I don’t think I’ll be digging up my hemerocallis though, mine does not seem to grow overabundantly :-(

  14. I found your post by googling whether you can eat the maple shoots, as I have a million in my yard, and pick them to leave the nutrition for the other plants. Anyone try eating the maple sprouts?

    • That is a good question. My guess is that it is possible, since maple isn’t poisonous but will ask some of my knowledgeable contacts and hope to get back to you soon. It does sound like a good idea – thanks for asking.

    • Some of my contacts say that they have tried maple shoots, in small amounts, and find them very bitter. The consensus seemed to be that they are not that good, but at least a few do no harm. It sounds like a good thing to experiment with. Maybe if they are really that bitter, cooking in a couple of changes of water might help. I will try and dig some up if I can find them and get back to you. Hope that helps.

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