Day lilies again

day lily

The next species in the day lily succession is now in production. In June I was using yellow day lily (Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus). Now it’s the turn of Hemerocallis fulva, the show-off of the day lily genus, with hundreds of different varieties and the largest, most spectacular flowers. The varieties out at the moment include Yellow Moonlight (above), Whichford, Burning Daylight and the unknown variety below.

The mysterious thing about day lilies is that they are usually described as a salad species. The more I use them, the more I am sure they were really made for cooking. The graceful and abundant yellow day lilies mostly went into soups and stir fries: the chunky flowers of H fulva open up other possibilities. Last night I tried frying up a batch of Burning Daylight. After about 5 minutes I tried some: the sugars in the petals had caramelised, giving a rich, sweet complex flavour, and the odd aftertaste that I find with the raw flowers had gone. The fact that they were now laden with oil probably did no harm either. It makes me wonder what they are like frittered or tempura’d like courgette flowers. If any of you gourmets out there would like to try it, please let me know the results.

day lily

2 thoughts on “Day lilies again

  1. oneoflokis

    I first learned these were edible from Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series of novels set in the Paeleolithic. You surely know the movie of the first book, Clan of the Cave Bear. (Doesn’t do it justice!)
    Interesting to know you can cook these. Though I believe Auel mentions eating the bulbs – can you?!

    1. Alan Carter Post author

      I read one of the books, but I didn’t know there was a film. I’m not sure if day lilies were actually present in Europe at that time, but I guess that wouldn’t be the worst anachronism in the series! The bulbs are edible, but I think we have acquired better root crops since the Palaeolithic, so I don’t bother with them.


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