Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dining on Daylillies

As is the case with most people who live on the east coast, I grew up with daylilies. They're everywhere and were always a welcome sign that summer was in full stride when they started to bloom.

Many years ago a woman from out of town who was visiting friends next door at the Beach spent quite a bit of time cutting lots of daylilies and created an very beautiful arrangement that she proudly displayed in the living room. I don't recall if it was me or someone else who broke the news but she would not believe it when told that the blossoms only last one day and will be dead by morning. The next day, when I saw the wilted mass of dead day lilies on the fireplace mantle I found myself wishing they could have lasted at least one day more.

What I didn't know is that they are edible.

From The Atlantic...
While I always knew daylilies were edible, I had no idea they were that good! I gathered some on our trip to New England last week and, after sampling the flowers, flower buds, young stalks, and root tubers, I've come to the conclusion that they're so tasty I may grow them as a food crop.

Let me start by saying I am talking about the common daylily, hemerocallis fulva, as well as its various hemerocallis friends and relatives; there are thousands. What I am most definitely not talking about are bona fide lilies, like the Easter lily, which, if you are unfortunate enough to eat, you had better hope that the Resurrection is real...

Most sources say to sauté the unopened flower buds with a little butter or oil and call it a day. So in they went, just lily buds, butter, and salt. Delicious. Briefly cooked, the buds have a bit of knacken, a German expression meaning a "pop." Yet the insides reminded me of squash blossoms. The taste? Green, with a whiff of radish and a dash of green bean. Honestly, I'd eat this as a side dish any day, any place.

We tried some of the stalks, but they were not as good. Texture like lemongrass, only without the wonderful lemon aroma. More like a bland, tough scallion. Certainly edible, and not terrible, but nothing like the buds. The flowers are okay. They are more for color than flavor, and they are said to thicken soups the way okra or file powder do.

That left the little tubers. First thing I noticed was that some looked exactly like fingerling potatoes, while others were pure white, like the inside of jicama. I ate a white one and it TASTED like jicama! Only better. Like a raw sweet potato. Or rather a sweet, raw potato, not a yam. I did the same treatment to the tubers: butter, salt, sauté. These are quite possibly the best tubers I've ever eaten. Okay, that might not sound like ringing praise, but consider that I am including real potatoes in there and you get the picture.

1 comment:

acn said...

You fixed them at home?


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