Ferment: A Rainy Daylily Dinner

Another rainy day for the Wild Foragers Society – last Monday was washed out due to the ominous black clouds coming in over the city and one of the basic foraging safety principals (and general life rules) of not climbing trees when there’s thunder and lightning. Instead of group foraging for mulberries at Rosedale, I dashed out to glean the tree in the backyard and snuck a few daylilies from my neighbours who had all taken shelter from the storm. It was just enough time to gather some eats for dinner and get a refreshing shower.

Back inside the four of us pondered our culinary mission for the evening, trying not to just eat all the mulberries straight from the dish. First we shared some fun facts about the two beautiful plants we were ready to make into dinner.

Hemerocallis, fulva is the most common of edible daylilies

Daylilies are:

  • Entirely edible! Tubers, stems, leaves, buds and flowers each have their own unique flavours and uses

  • Invasive from Asia and wild here in Canada, you often see them intentionally planted in gardens in Toronto but outside they city they can be found in fields or ditches (remember: always harvest from a clean and safe growing area)

  • Found in traditional Asian cooking for over 2000 years, commonly seen in moo shu pork and hot and sour soup or dried and called ‘golden noodles’
  • Not actually part of the real Lily family (Liliaceae) – instead they’re part of the Hemerocallis which is derived from the Greek words for ‘beauty’ and ‘day’ as each flower blooms for only one day
  • A great wild alternative to zucchini flowers!
Mulberries come from the Morus (a genus of the Moraceae family which consists of a variety of mulberry trees)

Mulberries are:

  • Found in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the tree, in our neck of the woods you’ll most often see the white mulberry (which is still purple) with a few red and black varieties hybridized in
  • The red mulberry is native to south-western Ontario and is listed as endangered by the Ministry of Nature Resources, who estimates there are fewer than 300 remaining
  • The white mulberry from Asia was widely planted in North America to try and encourage the silk trade as it is the exclusive meal of the silk worm
  • Able to cause hallucinations (and serious vomiting) when too many unripened berries are consumed
  • Full of your standard laundry list of vitamins, nutrients and protein plus some of that extra good stuff like anthocyanins and fancy antioxidants like resveratrol (also found in another wild edible, Japanese Knotweed)
  • Pollinated by the wind! 
Dinner is served!

After exchanging the facts and a quick debate over the order of ones reaction to consuming too many unripened mulberries (hallucinate and then vomit or vice-versa) – and after a few hurdles of standing in the kitchen saying, ‘so what am I actually going to do with this?’ we arrived to a green salad with daylily flowers in a mulberry vinaigrette dressing with a stir-fry of fresh greens and daylily pods atop udon noodles.

Of course many mulberries made it into mouths before the salad
Nom, nom, nom… 

So as the city flooded around us, our mighty meeting of four enjoyed the local fruits and flowers of our labour. Here are my favourite and easy recipes for you to try cooking up your own daylilies or mulberries!


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