June 16, 2010

Wild Foods: Daylilies

Daylily bloom & budI don't really think of daylilies as being wild but they are naturalized in so many places that they might as well be. We used to have hundreds of them in the goat field, until so much of it had to be dug up to put in a new leach field. Fortunately, last summer I transplanted quite a few of them.

I like to use daylily flower buds in salads.

Daylily & lettuce salad with black olives & sunflower seeds.They are quite tasty, and add lovely color, especially with the Romaine lettuce from my garden.

What I need to do though, is to explore their other culinary possibilities....

Shoots - gathered in early spring
  • raw in salads
  • cooked like asparagus
Tubers - can be gathered year round
  • if young & tender can be eaten raw in salads
  • cooked like corn
Buds & Flowers - gathered in summer
  • fried like fritters
  • raw in salads
  • dried to season stews
  • buds cooked like green beans
One thing new I'm trying, is dehydrating the the flowers. I'd like to add them to soups this winter.

Dried daylily flowers for soups & stewsMy dehydrator (an Excaliber) has an herb setting on it which ranges from 95 to 125 F. I set it on 105 for all day. The flowers aren't crispy dry, and I may experiment with several batches at different degrees of dryness. I've learned that it's possible to over-dehydrate as well as under. Over dehydrated foods just never rehydrate and cook up as well, but not dry enough will mold. There's something of an art to it to be sure.

There's a lot of potential in this lovely plant.

Wild Foods: Daylilies text & photos copyright June 2010 by Leigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/


  1. yep, I sometimes add daisies and of course nasturtium flowers (and buds and leaves and seeds:)). unfortunately day lilies don't like our climate all that much, so the very few I have I keep to look at. but nasturtiums grow well - and I love the peppery taste. oh yes, I sometimes use courgette flowers as well!deep fried or filled, yum! I also tried peppermint (too strong in a salad, I find), thyme flowers, scented violets and rose leaves (fantastic, but not for salads. crab apple jelly as base and some scented rose leaves = fantastic). a few lavender flowers are ok too - oh yes, and horseradish flowers! pretty much anything I can eat as a vegetable, but some are tastier than others....

  2. The only thing that gets to eat the few daylilies I planted are the deer. Once we almost had a flower, but, it too was eaten. Part of the spring/summer buffet I use to put out for the deer.;)

  3. They're edible? And I use them for dyeing. Only the yellow, or does include the orange ones?

  4. I didn't know that are edible. You made me curious. I'll try such a salad with daylilies...

  5. I have a hard enough time cutting any of my flowers to put a bouquet indoors; I always feel like I'm stealing the beauty from outside. It would be even harder for me to eat them, I think! Maybe if I had LOTS of daylilies...

  6. I didn't know that they were edible either. I had read once that "lilies" were poisonous to dogs/cats so I just assumed they fell into the same category. I have them growing here, now you made me curious.

  7. I have a book that is on using flowers in food, I will have to blog about it soon!

  8. I guess your post proves, once again, that there is always something new to learn! Add me to the group that didn't know day lilies were edible. What do they taste like? I have only one day lily plant (but it probably needs to be divided) so at present I wouldn't have a lot of buds to use, but you sure have me curious now.

    Thanks for the post.

  9. So pretty and apparently tasty too! I don't use (or have!) daylilies in dishes, but I do love preparing zucchini flowers, especially stuffed :)

  10. Have you tried squash blossoms...

  11. I had no idea these were edible. I've got lots of them in the garden courtesy of the lady who sold the place to us. Maybe I'll mix them into my kale and garlic scape veg dish this evening?

  12. Bettina, I love nasturtiums but can't grow them for the same reason you can't grow daylilies- climate. I did plant some in the garden, but I think it's too hot for the poor things already.

    I've used violets and rose petals, but not thyme nor horseradish! I'm very glad to know about those, thanks!

    Theresa, ah yes, the deer. Fortunately we have enough so that I haven't noticed if our deer have gotten any!

    Benita, yes, they're edible and tasty. I've not used them for dyeing, but am curious about that as well.

    Scented Leaf, oh do! They are a lot of fun in a salad. My goal is to try them a few other ways too.

    Michelle, I don't cut many flowers either, but for some, like my zinnias, I know they need to be dead headed anyway, so I think why not? I read somewhere that a single daylily can produce up to 50 blooms per season, but if I only had a few plants, I doubt I'd cut them either.

    Leslie, that would be a good research project. Daylilies are Hemerocallis fulva. Turks Cap Lilies are Lilium superbum also edible but different genus and species entirely. I wouldn't eat just any lily though, for the reason you mention.

    Julie, please do! I would enjoy learning about that book.

    Mama Pea, they taste like chicken. Just kidding! Actually they have a delicate flavor, quite tasty really. Maybe you should indulge yourself just one just to see.

    Michelle, I've never tried zucchini flowers! Thanks for that and the link. Your stuffed zucchini blossoms look so mouthwatering!

    Sara, no! But now I'll have to!

    Katrien, that sounds yummy. I'd love to hear how it turns out!

  13. I had no clue you could eat those! WOW totally awe struck, but really cool. What can I say total city kid.

  14. A local restaurant makes some kind of appetizer with stuffed Daylilies - probably involving cream cheese or something like that for the stuffing.

    I'm curious about whether you can eat the yellow or purple ones, or are just the orange ones safe? (Not much of a forager here....but I do have yellow and purple daylilies in my garden!)


    PS: Thanks so much for your compliments on my photos. We just got a photo printer, so I'm starting to explore possibilities for cards. It's surprising how different some pictures look printed versus on the computer. The light is all different. (My DH has done all kinds of complicated color matching and stuff, so we have a great setup, but print versus screen are really different still.)

    Phew....sorry for my big long comment!

  15. Hey, Leigh, I fear we may both have the same warped sense of humor. In my original comment I was going to be a smart-blank and ask if they tasted like chicken!

  16. Robin & Deep End, I really like learning about wild foods. I figure they're something that can grow themselves!

    Sue, I'm not sure about the different colors. I like the Peterson Field Guide on edible wild plants, which categorizes them by flower color. IOW, it only addresses the orange ones, which I suppose qualify as "wild" edibles.

    What great news about your photography. Interesting about the color difference but it sounds like your DH is well on the way to figuring all that out.

    Mama Pea, LOL. How could I resist?

  17. I live, blog and write cookbooks in suburban Maryland, and the deer are so voracious here I almost never get any day lilies to just admire or to put in salads. I can't imagine you don't have deer there, too. So what's your secret?

  18. Nancy, thanks for visiting and commenting. We do have deer, and saw quite a few when we first moved here, but not so many since our neighbor clearcut about 25 or so acres of land. Since then we haven't seen any nor had any damage.

    Actually we are not especially rural. We live just outside city limits of a small town, in a combination of subdivisions and acreage. The deer probably moved farther away to the next wooded area down the road. Along the same lines, we don't see as many hawks anymore either, which is perhaps just as well, considering our chickens.

  19. We just got back from a fortnight in Canada this morning. Driving from Peterborough to Fergus (Ontario) on Thursday, we accidentally came across Richters in Goodwood. When I lived in Ontario in the 70's I used their seeds often. Their website and published catalogue show the medicinal/culinary/dyeing properties of the plants/seeds/dried/liquid materials that they sell together with the appropriate zones that they grow in.
    Check out www.richters.com for lots of information.

  20. Mary, thanks for the recommendation. I just took a quick peek at their website. Looks like lots of good stuff.

    I hope you enjoyed your trip! I imagine the weather was wonderful. What I wouldn't wish for cooler summers......


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