You’ve probably seen the hosta plant — it grows naturally in both urban and suburban landscapes, and lots of people grow hostas as an ornamental addition to their gardens. These popular plants come in colorful varieties, including blue, yellow, light green and dark green, and their plentiful leaves are sometimes accented by fabulous blooms. But did you know that the hosta plant is actually edible, too?
Chances are, this shade-loving, ground-covering plant is growing somewhere near you, and you can harvest it to add to your next sandwich wrap. In fact, hostas have been cultivated as a vegetable in Asian communities for hundreds of years. Hostas have a host of vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, zinc and copper.
In spring, the hosta plant sprouts thick shoots. Use a sharp knife to cut the curled-up shoots at ground level a few days after they appear.
Harvest the shoots early in the morning because “that’s when the most juices will be concentrated in the tiny leaves.” They also warn that while the hosta plant is nutritious for humans, it’s toxic to pets — so keep an eye on your furry friends while preparing and eating your hosta shoots!
And how do hostas taste? “They taste like a spear of lettuce crossed with asparagus,” writes James Beard Award-winning chef Alan Bergo on Forager Chef. While there are many ways to cook them, Bergo has his favorite: “The method I liked the best was a quick-hot sear in a pan to brown them and caramelize the outside, which brings out a bit of sweetness,” he writes. “Cooked very fast, you can brown them, creating depth of flavor, as well as keeping the inside crisp: the best of both worlds.”
Dr. Joanette Claridge-Weisse, an emergency medicine physician and organic gardener, created a recipe for cheesy roasted hosta shoots after discovering them by accident in her garden, she explains in the recipe on her site, Garden to Table.
First, she thinly sliced the shoots and added them to a salad. Then, she got creative, tweaking one of her favorite recipes for oven-roasted asparagus. Here’s the happy outcome:
There are plenty of other options for preparing and eating hostas: Cut up the tightly curled shoots and throw them in a stir-fry dish (according to Backyard Forager, soy and miso pair well with hosta shoots in cooking), boil the shoots and serve them like any other green vegetable or even make a salad with them.
That’s not all — Edible Wild Food has a recipe for bacon-wrapped hosta leaves that would make a great appetizer for a dinner party and is ready in just 35 minutes.
If you don’t already have hostas on your property, you might consider planting and growing them yourself.
If you care for them properly, they will come back year after year!