Tuesday, June 12, 2012

For The Love and Taste of Day Lilies

All photos by Jonathan Schechter
June, 2012 (my meadow)

Day lilies are delicious.  I've been munching on this beautiful naturalized wildflower since my neophyte naturalist years as an inquisitive nature-hungry, tree-hugging, bearded hippie on the campus of Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont.
 I still eat them
I aways will.
About the only thing that surprises me are the number suburbanites and even some park naturalists that give me a puzzled look and say something like, "You eat them?"  And then of course when they find I use the petals and fresh earthy tubers in salads I sometimes get comments about how they get their greens from the store, a testament to our societies sad disconnect from the healthy abundance nature's offerings.
With that said here are my three basic 'wild edibles' rules and one reminder:

NEVER eat a wild plant based just on what someone told you.
AWAYS be 100% sure of identification.
NEVER  collect roadside where chemicals are sprayed, same for your lawn!
REMINDER: Your stomach may be sensitive to a new pant, even though it is edible.

My closest day lily  grocery store is my hillside sixty feet in back of my house.
My collection tool is my heavy duty backpacking knife.  The three main parts I am after are the petals, the closed flower buds and the underground tubers. The knife is only needed for digging and cutting the tubers. There are many ways to prepare day lilies for consumption, raw or cooked and there is nothing new about eating day lilies. The Chinese have used them for centuries, so says the literature ,and they remain an ingredient in some hot and sour soups today.

(These were all consumed the evening of  June 11th)
1. PETALS  picked first thing in the morning are tasty and succulent and add flavor and color to salads. Each blossom only blooms for a day, thus the name day lily.

2. CLOSED FLOWER BUDS (PODS) can be boiled like asparagus, fried like a fritter, or stir fried or steamed with other vegetables.

3. TUBERS are my favorites. They are crisp with a slightly nutty flavor when eaten raw. I think they young ones are best and are delicious raw. But if I was camping  with a want of some fresh veggies, or in a survival situation I would think nothing of digging up the older, drier tubers and preparing them like potatoes or cooking up a stew. I bet they would go well with crayfish!


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