Monday, June 26, 2006

day lily buds

I knew that day lilys were edible, and I saw them cropping up all around my new house. So I broke out Steve Brill's book -- he being my favorite authority on edibles -- and he mentioned all the various ways people eat day lilys. My mind got caught on day lily bud pickles. When Steve said that the plant no longer propagates via flower, it propagates via rhizomes, I knew I'd hit the jackpot. I bottled some day lily buds in a fairly usual pickle manner last night, and today I'm trying a variation on a day lily bud recipe I found on the internet. In a few weeks I'll be able to say how they taste. But the one I bottled last night is a beautiful red color. I had brined the buds for 12-24 hours (2 batches that I collected over two days), and put a plate on top to weigh them down. Some discolored a little, and some discolored a lot. I should have put them all in the jar and poured the hot vinegar over them, but I discarded some of the most discolored ones. Turns out that everywhere they discolored turned a brilliant red color in the vinegar solution, making a very pretty display if nothing else.

However Steve Brill said that day lily pickle buds are delicious. If it ever stops raining, I'll put pictures of day lilies and their buds online for people to get a good id. There's similar, still edible species (tiger lily), but the day lily has no poisonous look-alikes. As always, pick your plants away from car-ways. You don't want auto emissions on your food.

Also, I use pasta/tomato sauce jars or pickle jars that I've cleaned for making things in vinegar. Vinegar corrodes metal -- normal Ball or canning jars use metal rings and the lids will often corrode. Tomatoes are also corrosive so they use lined jar lids for pasta sauces.

My recipe -- the first batch I used about 1/4 cup salt to 1c water for the brine. I soaked the day lily buds by submerging them in the brine at room temperature (you may try in the fridge, maybe they wont get browned around the edges...) overnight. The following morning I picked more and left the whole lot in the solution until the evening. I created the vinegar pickling mix by filling a similarly-sized jar about 4/5ths or more with 1/2 organic cider vinegar 1/2 white vinegar, about 3/4 to 1c white sugar, about 4 whole cloves, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1tsp fennel seed, 1tsp black peppercorns. Stirred it up, put it in a non-metal saucepan to heat to steaming. You can be more patient than me and boil it :) While waiting, I rinsed the buds from the brine, and lined them up in the jar. Line them up very tightly if possible -- I didn't, and they all floated to the top. I was afraid to squish them too much. When the vinegar solution was ready, I poured it SLOWLY over the top (make sure the jar is warmed so that it does not shatter!), waited for bubbles to float out, poured in more, etc. I attempted to completely cover the buds without having the vinegar touch the lid of the jar. I eventually put the lid on, and turned the whole jar over (use gloves! it's HOT) a few times, re-opened it and poured more solution in. Label the LID of the jar, and turn it over a couple times a day for the first few days, especially if there are buds that aren't quite covered on the top. I'm hoping they eventually get saturated and sink to the bottom.

Today, instead of brine, my recipe calls for boiling the buds for 20 minutes or so -- enough to eat them as a vegetable. I'm using a different pickling solution -- one much less clear, so it won't be as pretty on the shelf. The buds came out of the boiling with the water mainly black, and the buds looking like soggy stringbeans. I put them in the jar, heated the pickling solution and I'm waiting for it to cool so I can put a label on it. This time I did a part apple cider and part white vinegar solution again, but I made about 1/3 of the sugar molasses and the spices were 2 whole cinnamon, 5 whole cloves, and a pinch of allspice powder (I need to get more whole allspice!). I couldn't really pack the jar tightly, but these babies were so tired and waterlogged that they sink easily. At the same time, they have totally lost all firmness and color compared to the brined buds. We'll see how it all turns out.

[tags]day lily, pickles, canning, steve brill, recipe[/tags]

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