Last year at this time I experimented for the first time with lily shoots from the hemerocallis fulva, otherwise known as a ditch lily. These shoots, if picked in the spring when they are no more than 5 inches high, are similar to leeks but sweeter. I approached them with caution because they can cause digestive problems in a small percentage of the population, but having tried them and found them to be more than agreeable, I picked a lot more this year with impunity. See my original recipe here.
At the same time last year, I also discovered that sturdy leafy plants are ideal for fermenting, resulting in a delicious, sometimes spicy pickle which are a welcome addition to just about any sandwich or snack. So why not increase my stash of ferments with these lilies which are in endless supply – at least for a few weeks each spring.
First – some words of caution.
- Be sure you are picking the above-mentioned lily and not some other day lily, which look very similar. Some of these are edible, but some are toxic.
- Pick them when they are 5 in. or smaller. After that they get too fibrous.
- Try a little to make sure they do not disagree with you.
Like leeks, they need a good washing to remove any dirt after they have been separated from the tubers. Don’t worry if they break apart.
For the ferment, I used 2 tsp of pickling salt for every four cups of chlorine free water. I also added some garlic and slices of chili peppers to give them a little kick and threw in a few of the larger white tubers scraped clean. Pack the leaves tightly into a jar with whatever spices you choose and pour the brine over them. Weigh them down so that none of the leaves are above the liquid. To do this, I covered them with cheesecloth and placed enough marbles on top to hold them down. A stone or other heavy object which fits well in the jar is recommended. After five days, taste a sample to see if they are ready. There should be a good vinegar-like flavour, but if it is not there yet leave them a few more days until they are to your liking. Cover the jars and store in a cool place.
Remember, fermenting will still happen, so the flavour will get stronger and you should open the jars once in a while so the pressure doesn’t build up. You will have some of the tastiest pickles for your burgers, sandwiches or salads for as long as they last or up to 6 months at least (my conservative estimate based on my other ferments).