Thursday, May 22, 2014

Brassica juncea! Wait, what?

It's that time of year again when the greens are thriving in the gardens. To be specific, mustard greens or Brassica juncea, if you are getting technical. These types of greens are prevalent among Indian, Chinese, and Japanese dishes and known for their distinct thin leaves. They are incredibly easy to grow, making them ideal if you are new to gardening.

Here are some common questions about mustard greens. 

1. How do you identify mustard greens? 

There are many varieties of wild mustard greens, however all of them are edible. 
The western varieties include frilled-oval leaves & mustard spinach (similar to the green leaves of spinach) 
There are over 50 Asian and Chinese mustard green varieties. The most readily available variety is Mizuna, which have bright green fern-like leaves.

2. Are they really that good for us? 

Compounds within Mustard Greens include antioxidants (Vitamin C, E, & A), anti-inflammatory properties (Vitamin K), and with regular consumption, support Cardiovascular health (aids in lowering cholesterol). If you are interested in learning more, click here

3. How do you prepare mustard greens? Have any cooking tips or simple recipes? 

First step, wash/soak those greens! An easy washing recipe to use is combining water, vinegar, baking powder, and lemon juice and allow the greens to soak for 10-15 minutes. To eliminate any dirt or residue that may be on the greens. 

Next step, cooking. 

To maintain the healthy compounds of Mustard Greens, the best cooking technique is to sauté (using 5 Tablespoons of either chicken or vegetable broth and sautéing for 5 minutes or so). 

- Young Mustard Greens have less of a bitter taste, making them ideal for salads
- To store, place greens in a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator. Be sure to remove as much air as possible! 

Click on the recipe below for a simple dish that was prepared at MHC for patrons to sample. 

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