Are Lotus Flowers Edible?
This beautiful flower is absolutely edible. Moreover, we will go over how the entire plant of the “sacred lotus” can be eaten. Stop looking at these beauties to be only centerpieces for your flower arrangements and water gardens. Today, you will explore a plant that has been consumed for thousands of years. After that, recipes are featured at the end for you to become one of the many lotus eaters throughout the ages.
Edible Species of Lotus
Some Background Info
There are only two known living species of lotus in the world. Look in the section below this one to discover their identities.
The lotus loves to grow in shallow ponds and they can cover a large area given the opportunity. It’s often confused with water lilies (genus- Nymphaea), but they are fairly easy to tell apart. The water lily has an indent in the leaf that goes all the way to the stem of the plant and the blossom tends to remain on the surface of the water. By contrast, lotus blossoms are often above the water surface and the leaves are completely round.
A water lily often confused for the lotus plant due to it’s use of the common name is Blue Lotus Flower (Nymphaea caerulea), also known as the Egyptian Blue Water Lily.
All parts of the lotus plant were readily consumed as a main food source by Native Americans in the West and it was lifted to iconic status in the East for all its uses. In fact, it is even presently the national flower of india.
Different Edible Species
These are the two living species of lotus:
- Nelumbo lutea: Common Names – American Lotus, Yellow Lotus, Water Chinquapin
- This is the lotus flower that inhabits the United States mainly to the east and south of the Rockies and parts of California. It also grows in part of the Caribbean. It loves quiet waters.
- Nelumbo nucifera: Common Names – Chinese Arrowroot, Chinese Waterlily, Eastern Lotus, East Indian Lotus, Egyptian Sacred Bean, Indian Lotus, Padma, Sacred Lotus, Water Bean, Water Lotus
- An Asian variety of lotus that is readily consumed in the East. Many stories have been written about this lotus flower and it is still respected to this day.
Parts of the Plant Used
- Remove the seeds from the seed pods. The lotus seeds can be eaten raw or cooked.
- Leaves and shoots
- The young leaves or the unopened leaves cook like spinach. Use the older ones for wraps.
- Blossoms or flowers
- Can be used in teas and as garnishes.
- Tubers or rhizomes
- Can be eaten raw just make sure it is grown in sanitary conditions. The lotus tubers cook like a potato. Remains crisp when boiled, and has a sweet flavor to it. It is a starchy tuber.
Flavors/Textures of Lotus
The flower has sweet flavor while the tuber retains a crunchy texture even after boiling. Finally, the seeds have a similar taste to chick peas with a hint of corn flavor.
If you aren’t growing lotus in your back yard, you can find it in Asian markets within the United States. Let’s dive into some awesome recipes that will jazz up your next meal.
Firstly, let’s make quick work of those lotus tubers with this incredible stir-fry. A tasty weeknight meal that is an eye pleaser with the gorgeous lotus rhizomes taking the show.
Are you asking yourself what this is? Because get ready for a deep fried delicious treat covered in a tomato onion gravy that is utterly divine. Take a look at this masterpiece and give it a try!
Switch up your classic curry recipe for this one filled with lotus fruit aka the seeds. The seeds are also known as makhanas. You are going to roast the makhanas for this recipe which will crisp them up for this dish.
4. Savory Soup
Warm your spirits with a classic soup served during the Chinese Lunar New Year. The broth is enhanced with flavors of pork and ginger for a perfectly balanced soup.
5. Roasted Lotus Seeds
These make for an easy to grab snack on the go. This particular recipe adds wonderful spices to the mix which give it a splash of flavor. Pluck those seeds out of their seed head and get baking!
6. Lotus Tea
This is a cool iced tea recipe excellent for the summer. Head down to your local asian market for some fresh ingredients if you aren’t growing them at home.
7. Lotus Leaf Wraps
I don’t think you will expect what this recipe has in store for you. The leaves are filled with rice, chicken, and a medley of spices, and then steamed to perfection for a satisfying weeknight meal.
What isn’t to love about a tender pastry dough filled with the sweetness of a lotus seed paste. The paste is used in many sweet treats in Asian cultures, and I think these will leave the kitchen counter fast when they are done baking.
9. Lotus Stem Salad
If you want something that can mix up your classic salad recipe, I urge you to take a look at this one made of lotus stems. It can be a complete meal itself, or be paired nicely with a homemade bread to round it out.
10. A Tasty Bake
Finally, I want to leave you with a recipe that you may not expect. Have you ever heard of jerusalem artichoke? If not you may want to be clearing a space in your garden for it. Another tasty tuber to pair with lotus and this bake will certainly surprise you with its deceptively good flavor.
There are many health benefits to lotus flower and its medicine has been used since ancient times. We have two big ones listed here:
- Contains Vitamin C
- May aid in preventing Alzheimer’s [ 1 ]
In conclusion, I think we did answer the question are all lotus flowers edible. In addition, you now have a whole list of amazing recipes to try out that include other parts of this wonderful plant.
If you have the growing season in North America and the space, this can be an incredible plant to try as beginner water garden enthusiasts. However, even if you don’t have a pond, there may be the potential to create your own environment suitable for a lotus plant. Think an old bathtub….I’ll leave you with that to ponder.
Until next time, we wish you all the best. Leave a comment if you try out any of the recipes and if you start growing your own lotus flower!
P.S. Start your vegetable garden today by taking a look at our post!
[ 1 ] Temviriyanukul, P., Sritalahareuthai, V., Promyos, N., Thangsiri, S., Pruesapan, K., Srinuanchai, W., Nuchuchua, O., Siriwan, D., On-Nom, N., & Suttisansanee, U. (2020). The Effect of Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) and Its Mixtures on Phenolic Profiles, Antioxidant Activities, and Inhibitions of the Key Enzymes Relevant to Alzheimer’s Disease. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 25(16), 3713. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25163713