Daylilies: The Perfect Perennial
It’s mid-summer and it feels like anything and everything is starting to grow around us. Flowers are blooming everywhere and you can certainly spot flower beds from quite the distance. Wild edibles might be growing in your garden right now and one of the flowers that stands out in mid-July is the daylily. These are easy to spot with their long stems, star-shaped flower and bright yellow-orange petals. The daylily, Hemerocallis fulva, is a flower that you most probably are spotting several times throughout the day this time of year. It is also a flower that you may or may not realize is almost entirely edible…
Daylilies have many benefits to them. Just to mention a few of them, they are very high in protein compared to vegetables that we eat and are also a rich source of vitamin C. The rich-colored orange in the petals come from two carotenoid that are good for your eyes.
The buds, the petals and the scapes are all edible. The daylilies are probably one of the easiest of all wild edibles to find, prepare and eat. In particular, because you can eat these raw or cooked. The buds remind me of a cross between lettuce and zucchini, maybe just a little sweeter with a nice crunch to them. This week we made a stir-fry with tofu, a variety of mixed vegetables and a sesame-ginger sauce. I didn’t add the flower buds in until having my second day leftovers but was glad that I tried them in the stir-fry. We sauteed the buds with just a little butter and water , then added them to the stir-fry. Honestly, if I was served this dish and not didn’t know I was eating daylilies, I might just think I was eating a vegetable that I just didn’t recognize because they went so well with everything.
We love to eat salad in our family, year-round, but we crave them more than any other time in the hot summer months. If you plan on making a salad for friends or family, I definitely encourage you to add the brightly- colored orange petals from the daylily. They add a really nice touch for helping create a colorful salad and they also taste really good. You can pretty much leave the task of pulling petals to your child, it’s definitely on the easier side of food preparations that even the much younger kiddos can do. You can’t go wrong by doing this, and more than likely and you will surprise people once they find out what they are eating!
My daughter, Thu, and I eat a pretty healthy diet, so I try to stay away from frying or battering foods, but I have heard that the buds of these edible flowers make really good fritters. I’m from the South, so I still have a very small soft spot for having the ever so often fried food.
Another way of cooking with these is to dry the flower petals, which is also referred to as “golden needle.” A number of Asian soups use golden needles for their flavor and texture. Daylilies are native to Asia, so you can find a lot of Asian cuisine that uses these. They also help to thicken a stew. It’s been hot in western Massachusetts this summer, so I haven’t been making soups lately, but I’ll dry a couple handfuls of daylily flowers to use in the fall as it starts to get cold.
If you find yourself with an abundance of these in your yard, or are just on a walk and come across wild ones, give them a try. They are also in a child’s reach, which make it easy for them. Remember you can eat these raw or cook them, maybe give one a try and see what you think. Just remember with all edibles, to not pick any that you know have pesticides or are by a busy road with cars.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leslie Lynn Lucio
Leslie is from Texas but has always been drawn to New England. She lives in the town of Northampton and loves living in Western Massachusetts. She spends a lot of time with her five year old and connecting with the community. Her interest include cooking, DIY projects,writing, biking, being outdoors, photography, restoration, food preservation and social activism. She spends some of her time farming when she can and also you can spot her working with the Pedal People.