Oh... where to start!?
Thanks to opening the conversation, Leftwood.
Fixpix, there's an overpopulation of hybrid seedlings here, from my years of making crosses and sowing the seeds. After a while, the practicalities of space and simple fact that not every seedling is worth keeping (even without misadventures in breeding
, all sorts of undesirable features can crop up, and then even if something is nice it's not necessarily an improvement on already existing plants, or unique enough to warrant keeping), and two years ago I ditched rejects in the compost. Even then, they tried bravely to grow from the compost bin... I felt so cruel. Has to be a better fate! thought I, and I'd been reading Stephen Haw's account of Bai Hei (medicinal lily bulb) from The Lilies of China...
I resolved that the best use was to eat them! Plus I'm dead curious. I love almost anything starchy, especially potatoes. And think - lilies could be like self-chipping spuds! No need to slice them up! As yet I haven't taken the plunge, but I sure have some more confidence about it now
It's interesting that even from the historical accounts there's no definitive bai hei species, though several candidates are likely to have shared or exchanged the title. Yep, like Leftwood says... it seems lilies have been food for thousands of years, and over that time different species were used according to locality, availability, tradition and preference. Haw concludes that the tiger lily, L. lancifolium, is the modern lily bulb of chinese markets, but who knows what else ends up on the shelf? Historically any of the white chinese trumpets or narrow-leafed red-flowered species could have been used. In theory all lilies should be edible, but I'd certainly like to hear which types give which results: taste best; are easiest to wash and process etc. I also wonder if being grown in potting mix makes a difference to taste, texture, process-ability. This autumn I think I will move some bulbs to the vege patch and experiment.
I'm assuming that autumn after the foliages dies is the best time to harvest for food? The same way we let potatoes die off?
I also love how recipes refer to the individual scales as 'ears' or 'petals'... so much more appetising than the thought of eating 'scales'
My first attempts will be something really simple, just baking or stir-frying them alone so I can appreciate them as they are! Something like the method described here: http://myyearinjapan.wordpress...
Don't they just look like sauteed onion?