Along the Grapevine


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Lily Buds

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Earlier in the year, I started experimenting with the prolific wild day lily (hemerocallis fulva), using at that time the tubers and the shoots which I described in this post. Now they are in full flower, but before I use the-full blown flowers, I decided to prepare something with the unopened blossoms. Coincidentally I received a post today on this very plant from Edible Wild Food – a site I often use to help me identify unfamiliar weeds and such – which gives a good description of what is called around here the ‘ditch lily’. If you’re not sure what this plant is or want to learn more about it, I recommend this post. If you have any gardening questions of the wild kind, this is a great source.

My recipe is not really a recipe – just an illustration that these pods can be eaten and are very tasty. The last few days I have been cooking, but not so much my own recipes as several of the super dishes presented at last week’s Fiesta Friday #24, so all I have to bring this week to Fiesta Friday #25 is this simple but delicious dish of vegetables with lily buds. I will be co-hosting again this week, this time with my fellow-Canadian Chef Julianna from Foodie on Board.

It should be noted that some people (some sources say 2%, others 5%) suffer digestive upsets from this plant, so go easy at first if you haven’t tried them before just to be on the safe side as with any new food.

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To prepare them as a side dish, I lightly fried some green beans in a mixture of olive oil and butter, added chopped garlic, herbs (in this case fresh tarragon) and seasoning. Then I added the lily buds and fried just a minute or two longer until they looked slightly toasted.

The flavour is sweet, a little fruity and not at all bitter or sour. If you haven’t tried cooking with wild flowers before, hemerocallis fulva is a great one to start with.

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And to all the guests at this week’s fiesta, a big welcome. I look forward to seeing what treats are in store for us this time. If you would like to join in the fun, check out how and where here.

 


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Eat Shoots and Score

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