Admire or eat? About a tasty and healthy ... host!
Hosta is one of the most popular shade-tolerant plants in the world. But most gardeners can’t even imagine that hosta young shoots are a delicious green vegetable! Who would have thought that a flower bed is a place where you can go in search of dinner? It's time to find out that wonderful and healthy dishes can be prepared from this flower. Beauty host should definitely be added to the list of plants that perform a dual function in the garden: edible and decorative. How to collect and cook the host, I will tell in this article.
Which host is edible?
Long before the hosta was planted in the shady corners of our flower gardens, it was a wild plant in Japanese forests. In those parts, the hosts were originally used as edible wild plants, and only a little later the hosta became a cultivated ornamental plant. Eating host shoots in Japan is a common practice. There, this plant is called "Urui" and is part of a group of products called "Sansai", literally "wild mountain vegetables."
Absolutely all kinds of hosts are considered edible. In Japan, the most delicious and most demanded kind of hosta is Hosta montana (H. montana) In the northern prefectures of Japan, this plant has become a commercial crop. Montana hosts are grown in greenhouses and kept covered to whiten foliage and soften its texture and taste (just like white asparagus is grown). Hosta is considered the best edible variety. ‘Snow Urui ’.
Although in its homeland from ancient times to this day, the host is famous in two ways, when this charming plant got into our gardens, information about its edibility was lost. But this does not mean that the hosts have lost their pleasant taste, and they can not be used as a vegetable plant.
Hosts eat almost all parts: young shoots that emerge from the ground in early spring, fully opened leaves and flowers that bloom in mid-late summer.
But most often it’s young shoots that are eaten. Shoots can be cut into slices and eaten raw in salads, or they can be prepared (and not in one way!).
What does the host taste like?
Hosts are in no way inferior to any other wild-growing green vegetable, whether it be young fern leaves or wild garlic arrows. Like any plant, the taste will be slightly different from species to species and from variety to variety, but all hosts are absolutely safe to eat. To choose your host, you will have to experiment and see which one you like best.
The taste of the cooked hosta is a bit like a mixture of leek and asparagus, while there is usually only a slight hint of onions, and the main flavor is green asparagus. Fresh hosta shoots have a pleasant crunch and taste, a bit like Iceberg salad, but much brighter.
Personally, at the moment I was able to taste only one kind of host - host plantain. I confess honestly, it’s a pity that I learned about her edibility so late. It seemed to me that the young shoots of this hosta taste like green peas with a slight weak-spiced smack of green onions. I gladly ate green arrows in their pure form, and also added to the Olivier salad, where they could replace not only onions, but also peas. It turned out very tasty!
Host Shoot Collection
The best time to harvest hosts is the end of April and May, when young shoots only emerge from the ground. Such young and tender "horns" are called "hostons." Regardless of the variety, choose shoots that are tightly folded and have not yet opened their leaves, or are just starting to unfold. The denser the sheet is folded, the more tender the taste.
When the leaves become larger, they are still edible, but they become more rigid, fibrous and their bitterness intensifies. However, mature leaves can also be eaten, however, they will first have to be boiled in boiling water for 15-20 minutes, then cut and fry, like other greens for stew. Also, such leaves are used in soups, baked in casseroles, or as a filling for pies.
It is best to harvest in the morning, when the shoots are cool and as juicy and fragrant as possible. To cut young hostons, use a sharp knife. Cut off a few shoots at ground level, but do not pull on the roots. Short scales at the base of the shoots are the most bitter, so they should be removed immediately.
The size of the shoots will vary from plant to plant. Obviously, larger hosta varieties form larger shoots, and a fairly decent crop can be obtained from powerful large-leaved varieties.
Fortunately, you do not have to sacrifice the beauty of your plant to make a dish out of it. Since the adult host forms very thickened bushes and needs to be divided, it is okay to cut off a few shoots.
To maintain the integrity of the bush, collect individual stems around the perimeter of the plant. When the inner leaves unfold, they will hide the places where you harvested, and the plant will look intact. As much as possible you can cut off about half of the shoots, if you want the hosta to grow and bloom as an ornamental plant. Then, despite the harvest, it will bloom in mid-late summer.
Attention! Although hosts are ideal for human consumption, these plants are toxic to dogs and cats. Most of these pets do not have a liking for plant foods, but make sure that your furry friends do not eat dishes that you cooked using hosta shoots.
Are hosta flowers edible?
Besides the shoots, which are delicious spring vegetables, hosta flowers blooming in the summer are also edible. If you are afraid of harming your favorite plants by collecting shoots, just be patient and wait until mid-summer when they bloom. Gathering hosta flowers, rather than cutting shoots, is the best option for young plants that are just starting to grow.
The hosta flowers are sweet, have a floral taste and look a bit like daylily flowers (which are also delicious edible flowers). Flowers are edible in all host species, and inflorescences Fortune hosts (Hosta fortunei) are described by gourmets as the most delicious.
How to cook a host?
In addition to the fact that young shoots of the plant can be added fresh to the salad, the easiest and fastest way to cook hosts is to fry the hostons in a pan with a small amount of oil. The total cooking time in a hot pan, depending on the variety and size, will be from 2 to 10 minutes. The hosts will be ready when you can easily pierce them with a fork.
The dish is especially tasty if you add a little soy sauce and sesame oil at the end of the frying, as the hosta's little bitterness goes very well with brackish soy sauce. The taste of such a dish is soft and fresh, and it is described as something between a salad and young spinach. The stems retain a pleasant crunch.
Another popular way to make a plant is to use a host in bacon. This original dish is prepared very quickly and simply. Bacon should be cut into thin strips and each hosta wrapped in a narrow piece of meat in a spiral. Cover the baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil and bake the shoots in bacon in the oven at 200 degrees for about 10-25 minutes (depending on their size).
In addition, tempura hosts are very popular in Japan. That is, the arrows of the hosts are fried breaded in a pan. Served usually with rice and soy sauce.
Of course, there are much more dishes from the hosts, and there is always the opportunity to experiment, replacing the hosts with spinach or leek in shoots in many recipes.
How useful is the host?
So, if hosts are edible, what nutrients do you get when you eat them? First of all, the arrows of hosts are low-calorie green vegetables rich in fiber, such as salad or asparagus, for example. Each young hosta leaf contains about 2 calories, and this is an ideal plant for those on a diet.
Regarding the content of vitamins and minerals in this plant, all parts of the plant are rich in potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, manganese and iron.
But, despite the fact that the host is a completely edible plant, it is important to exclude the presence of individual intolerance. Before eating dishes from hosts, do not forget to first try only a small piece, and if you are allergic, it is better to check the skin reaction by rubbing it with a piece of shoot.