Lotus Seeds, Lotus nuts, Indian Lotus, Sacred Lotus, Water lily
Traditional Chinese Name:
蓮子 (lián zi)
Taste: Sweet and slightly sour
Targets: Heart, kidneys, and spleen
You can get started on your Chinese Soup Kitchen Pantry from this video! While I don’t mention this ingredient as a basic pantry one, it is quite a common one that the Chinese do store in the dried pantry. I know my mom does! They can be used in both soups and desserts.
The lotus seeds are the little round seeds you can find embedded in the flower of the lotus plant. The seeds are traditionally harvested when the lotus plant has matured, although interestingly enough, in some countries, this is considered a food waste product.
Lotus plants are found mainly in Asian and some parts of Australia and North America. It represents a major food source and crop in China, where the leaves, stems, roots, and seeds are used for various dishes and food sources.
The seeds can be found both dried or fresh when used in soups, stews, and desserts. You’ll typically find them with their brown skins on if dried and skinless and white and pale if fresh.
How do I prepare it?
- For dried lotus seeds, you can presoak them in cool water to eliminate any chemicals during the curing and drying process
- For fresh lotus seeds, I’ll rinse under cool water and set it aside to be used in the soup
What is the cost & where to buy?
You can buy fresh lotus seeds at Asian supermarkets, normally found in the refrigerated sections (where the mushrooms are!). They’ll come in vacuum sealed packs, but do have shorter shelve lives and must be kept in the fridge.
- These fresh lotus seed packs cost around $2-3 CAD per pack (or 14 oz for example)
- You can buy dried lotus seeds from Asian supermarkets in the dried herb sections, but also at your local herbalist, who typically sell them in bulk by weight.
- You don’t need to store dried lotus seeds in the fridge and can be kept in an air tight jar in your dry pantry.
- There are many health benefits [source 1] to consuming lotus seeds (in its various forms, such as powdered, whole, fresh, dried), this includes:
- Anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory functions
- being a high source of anti-oxidants (which reduce free radicals in the skin and body)
- supporting gastrointestinal health and digestive functions
- Lotus seeds also nourish the mind and calms the spirit (which makes them nicely paired with red dates in desserts)
- Lotus seeds are rich in protein, vitamins (primarily vitamin C), lipids, and minerals
Be sure to buy lotus seeds from a reputable source
- Also be sure to remove the bitter tasting germ inside the middle of the seed (pictured above you can see that the lotus seeds are cored)
Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?
- Author links open overlay panelSneh Punia Bangar a et al. (2022) A comprehensive review on Lotus Seeds (nelumbo nucifera gaertn.): Nutritional composition, health-related bioactive properties, and industrial applications, Journal of Functional Foods. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S175646462200007X (Accessed: 28 November 2023).