Garden magic to eat - edible flowers

The eye eats with you - that's what they always say when it comes to serving food. That's why more and more often you can find blossoms on the plates in various restaurants. Edible flowers have a wide range of flavors, from very sweet to peppery or spicy, which allows a great deal of creativity in the kitchen.      

The origin, properties and history of edible flowers

Edible flowers have been used in cooking for centuries. In the Middle Ages, no distinction was made between flowers, herbs and spices. Already the ancient Greeks and Romans have refined their dishes with flowers at that time.  

Basically, edible flowers can be divided into four categories: The delicate early bloomers, the spicy-sweet plants, the May plants and the June plants. The delicate early bloomers can be found in the meadows as early as March and have a rather mild taste. These include the daisy and coltsfoot. The spicy-sweet plants owe their name to their taste. They taste partly salty and partly spicy and contribute to the detoxification of the body. These include the dandelion and forget-me-not. May plants, as the name suggests, grow from May and have a mild to tart taste. From June there are then the June plants. These taste much stronger and sweeter than the others. St. John's wort and wild rose are particularly well known here.  

Other examples of edible flowers are:  

  • Marigold 
  • Chamomile 
  • Mint 
  • Rose 
  • Violets 
  • Elderberry 
  • Jasmine 
  • Clover 
  • Cornflower 
  • Thyme 
  • Nettle  

The ingredients of edible flowers

Not much can be said about the ingredients, because it depends on which flowers you use. What in any case must not be missing is dandelion. Dandelion is a real all-arounder among the edible flowers and scores with vitamins A, B, C and D, as well as with minerals such as potassium and calcium. In addition, daisies and nettles are also very rich in vitamin C and the nasturtium provides another lot of magnesium.  

The effect of edible flowers on our body

Edible flowers have a positive effect on the physical and mental condition: Marigolds, for example, support wound healing and have an antispasmodic effect, while cornflowers ensure good digestion. Pansies and thyme also strengthen the respiratory tract and bronchial tubes while boosting metabolism. Violets, rose petals, and lavender help with aching nerves, anxiety, or fatigue. The trio not only has a calming effect, but also ensures a good mood.    

Edible flowers in the kitchen

Edible flowers spice up our plate not only visually, but also taste. They go well in salads, desserts, soups, cocktails and compotes. But you can also serve the flowers a little more discreetly and bake them in cakes, for example, or make them into oil, tea or jam.  

Purchase and storage of edible flowers

When buying edible flowers, be extremely careful, because the flowers available in supermarkets, flower stores or weekly markets are often treated with pesticides and are therefore toxic. Therefore, it is best to grow the flowers yourself. Alternatively, you can find pesticide-free flowers in delicatessens or specialty markets. These are specially labeled there.  

Edible flowers do not have a long shelf life - Slightly moistened and packed in an airtight container, they will last no more than two days in the refrigerator. Therefore, they should be processed as soon as possible.  

Woodruff - star for the may punch

Small, light green and rather inconspicuous, woodruff grows in almost every deciduous forest. In spring, the herb is one of the first plants to sprout from the ground again after winter. Depending on the location, woodruff blooms as early as the beginning of April until June. Due to its distinctive aroma, the delicate herb is often used for drinks and desserts. Woodruff is particularly well known in May punch, which was already drunk in the Middle Ages at the start of spring in May and was considered at that time as a "merrier from the forest".      

The origin, properties and history of woodruff

Woodruff (Galium odoratum) belongs to the rennet herbs and is found exclusively in deciduous forests. The 10 - 50 centimeter high plant can be recognized by its star-shaped, white flowers. These are surrounded by numerous corollas, called whorls. The leaves of the woodruff grow up to eight centimeters long and have a rough surface.  

Originally, the woodruff comes from Eurasia. According to legend, it was discovered by the Benedictine monks in 850. They used the herb as a foodstuff for the first time and produced the very first May punch, which was still known as "May wine" at the time. Before that, woodruff was used exclusively as a medicinal plant and, for example, tied around the feet of childbearing girls to ease the birth. Today, the herb grows in all areas with a temperate climate and is used both in cooking and in natural medicine.  

The ingredients of the woodruff

The most important ingredients include essential oils, bitter substances, tannins and coumarin. Coumarin is a chemical compound that is responsible for the typical aroma of woodruff. However, this aroma only comes out when the plant cells are damaged by crushing or wilting. Fresh woodruff can therefore only be recognized in nature if you take a closer look at the leaves.  

In the 1980s, coumarin was considered harmful to the liver and carcinogenic. This statement has since been refuted, but woodruff should still only be enjoyed in moderation, as too high a dose can lead to nausea, dizziness and headaches.  

The effect of woodruff on our body

Woodruff has been used in natural medicine for centuries. Thanks to its active ingredient coumarin, the rich green herb helps with sleep problems, migraines and headaches. In addition, woodruff has a spasmolytic effect and is therefore ideal for combating abdominal pain. Due to its blood-thinning effect, it also strengthens blood vessels and thus prevents vein problems.   

The woodruff in the kitchen

used. Only then is the typical woodruff flavor that we all know. Woodruff is often used in spring to enhance drinks and desserts. It is particularly popular as jelly, ice cream or as syrup. But also in the famous May punch and in pies, the delicate herb does very well.  

Purchase and storage of woodruff

It is best if you pick the woodruff yourself. Its characteristic shape and intense smell make it hard to confuse. But if you are unsure, you can also find the small green herb from May to June at weekly markets or in well-stocked vegetable stores.  

Woodruff usually withers very quickly and should therefore only be stored in a dry and airy place for a short time.  

Goji berry - queen of superfoods

The goji berry is considered a miracle fruit because of its many positive properties. Many models swear by the berry, which originates from China, as a source of their beauty. In addition, the small shriveled fruit is said to boost the production of human growth hormone, strengthen the immune system, alleviate sleep problems, do good to the eyes and even prevent cancer.     

The origin, properties and history of goji berry

The goji berry is also called boxberry, wolfberry or lucky berry. Originally, the red berry comes from China. There it was mainly used as a medicinal plant and was considered a miracle weapon for eternal beauty, health and youth. In this country, the goji berry has only been available for purchase for just under eight years. While it was previously only in dried form in the rules of the supermarkets to find, one can buy today also fresh Goji berries. In terms of taste, they hardly differ: both have a fruity-tart note and tastes sour to very sour, depending on the ripeness. You can buy dried goji berries all year round, but fresh ones are only available from June to September.  

The ingredients of the goji berry

As a superfood, goji berries have a variety of healthy vitamins, vital substances and nutrients. In 100 grams of dried goji berries are found:  

  • Calcium 190 mg 
  • Carotenoids 16 mg 
  • Iron 6.43 mg 
  • Potassium 1214 mg 
  • Sodium 339 mg 
  • Zinc 1.07 mg 
  • Vitamin A 9000 IU 
  • Vitamin C 48 mg 
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 12 mg 
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) 4.5 mg 

The effect of goji berry on our body

Goji berries are ideal for treating chronic pain conditions, asthma and allergies due to their anti-inflammatory effect. The superfood also strengthens our immune system due to its numerous nutrients and can also prevent cancer. In addition, the carotenoids contained improve vision and strengthen the retina. The polysaccharides in goji berries also support the elimination of metabolic residues and thus promote the detoxification of the body. Goji berries also provide a higher resistance to stress and promote muscle growth. Many athletes therefore use the superfood as a dietary supplement to improve their fitness, endurance and muscle strength.  

The goji berry is also popular in the beauty industry: Due to its numerous antioxidants, the fruit slows down the aging process of the skin and thus ensures a firm complexion. In addition, goji berries promote blood circulation and are therefore not only beneficial for our cardiovascular system, but also make our skin appear younger at the same time.  

The goji berry in the kitchen

Goji berries are versatile in the kitchen. Dried they fit well in mueslis, yogurt and salads. However, the superfood can also be used for savory dishes and served with meat, for example, similar to cranberries and cranberries. Due to its slightly tart taste, the superfood is also often used to spice up cakes or ice cream. Goji berries are especially popular in smoothies or breakfast bowls.  

Purchase and storage

The goji berry can be found in many supermarkets - mostly in dried form. When buying, make sure that the berries have not been dried too long and/or too much, because overdried goji berries are very hard and must therefore be soaked in water before using them. Stored in an airtight jar, the small red berries keep cool and dry about as long as raisins.  

Rhubarb - quite sour

Is rhubarb a fruit or a vegetable? In fact, due to its origin, it is classified as a vegetable. However, due to the way it is prepared, it is often mistakenly classified as a fruit. It is quite funny in the USA - there it is officially assigned to the fruit. Rhubarb owes its popularity to the combination of its fruity and sour taste. It is particularly popular in desserts. Especially famous is the delicious rhubarb pie. But also the strawberry-rhubarb jam is not to be neglected.

The origin, properties and history of rhubarb

Rhubarb originates from Asia and has existed for a very long time. Already 2,700 years BC, the vegetable was mentioned in a Chinese herbal book. At that time, however, it was considered a medicinal plant and the roots were used instead of the stalk. These were processed into powder, which was then used against constipation and constipation, as well as to fight the plague.

From England, rhubarb spread to Europe relatively late, to be more precise in the 18th century. Since then, rhubarb has been considered a popular vegetable and is grown worldwide in temperate climates. In Germany, it has been cultivated for just 150 years. Its peak season is from mid-April to the end of June.

The rhubarb stalk can grow 70 cm long, but the plant itself grows up to 2 m high. It comes in different varieties, which have different characteristics. First, there is the green rhubarb, which has a green skin and green flesh. This variety tastes quite sour and is rather unpopular. Since the green rhubarb has a high concentration of oxalic acid, it should be avoided from people with gout and kidney problems. Red rhubarb, on the other hand, is the milder and therefore more popular variety. It has a reddish skin but also a greenish to reddish flesh. Basically, the greener the flesh, the more acidic the vegetable. Therefore, the sweetest variety, is the one with red stalk and red flesh. Incorrectly, rhubarb is often mistaken for fruit. This is mainly due to the fact that it is prepared like fruit. However, since it belongs to the knotweed family, rhubarb is clearly a vegetable. In the USA, however, the vegetable is actually classified as a fruit.

The ingredients of rhubarb

The main component of rhubarb is water. The water content is 95 %, which is why 100 g of the vegetable contain just 13 kcal. However, besides a lot of water, rhubarb also contains a lot of healthy nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin C and niacin, which is also known as vitamin B3. In addition to vitamins, minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron are also found. Particularly noteworthy here is the calcium, which occurs at 50 mg per 100 g.

As already mentioned, rhubarb also contains oxalic acid. This is a dicarboxylic acid, which is mainly found in plant food or is formed in the body through metabolism. There are 460 mg of oxalic acid per 100 g of rhubarb. This high concentration makes the vegetable one of the frontrunners among foods with a high content of oxalic acid.

The effect of rhubarb on our body

Rhubarb strengthens our immune system and defenses through the vitamin C. The contained potassium has a dehydrating effect on us and promotes the transport of nutrients into the body cells. The sodium, on the other hand, supports our digestion.

Besides all the positive effects on our body, rhubarb can also be poisonous if prepared incorrectly or consumed in excess. This is due to the oxalic acid, as it can cause symptoms of poisoning in excessive amounts. A particularly high concentration of the acid is found mainly in the leaves and in the raw state of the vegetable. The concentration of oxalic acid also increases with the age of rhubarb. A particularly negative effect of oxalic acid is that it binds calcium. This can lead to the condition of teeth and bones being affected, especially if consumed in excess.

However, in normal amounts and when properly prepared, rhubarb is safe for most people.

Rhubarb in the kitchen

The most popular or probably the best known is the use of rhubarb for the rhubarb pie. However, also very popular is the strawberry-rhubarb jam. But the vegetable can also be processed into juices.

To be able to process the rhubarb properly, the stalks must be washed and the leaf base and the stalk end must be removed. If the stalks are fibrous or very thick, it is recommended to peel them beforehand. After that, the rhubarb stalks are cut into pieces. Subsequently, the rhubarb must be cooked, as this reduces the content of oxalic acid. Only after it is cooked, it should be further processed.

Buying and storing rhubarb

When buying, you should make sure that the stalks are firm, have a slight sheen and the ends look juicy. These are criteria that show the freshness of the vegetable. If rhubarb stalks look wavy, it means that they are not yet ripe.

It is best to store rhubarb wrapped in a damp cloth in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. This way it stays fresh for a few days. It can also be frozen very well.

Note: Do not store rhubarb in metal containers or aluminum foil under any circumstances, as the oxalic acid can cause chemical reactions.

Radicchio - a real Italian

Although it has been known in our country for only a few decades, radicchio has been winning over southern Europeans since ancient times. For us, the leafy vegetable is just another type of salad. However, the herb can be much more than just a salad, because originally radicchio was a medicinal plant in ancient times and also known as "bluish chicory", because it contains many healthy vital and mineral and bitter substances. While we only prepare it in its raw state (e.g. salad, plate decoration), Italians use it in steamed or grilled form or combine radicchio with risotto, for example.

The origin, properties and history of radicchio

The radicchio comes from southern Europe and is grown today mainly in northern Italy. We know the herb quite classically as a salad. However, this was not always the case. The original form of radicchio was eaten in ancient times. At that time, however, as a medicinal plant. Although the herb was already known in ancient times, it has only been consumed in our country for a few decades.

Radicchio belongs to the genus of chicory and is related to chicory and endive. A distinction is made between summer and winter radicchio. The variety grown in winter can resemble lettuce, as its leaves can be both red and green, and it can look round or cone-shaped. Here in Germany, however, summer radicchio is grown and eaten. This has dark red leaves, a cone-shaped head and white stems.

Like chicory, radicchio tastes somewhat bitter, but also aromatic and strong. In our country, summer radicchio has its main season from June to October. However, it is available all year round, because in the other months it is imported.

The ingredients of radicchio

Radicchio contains especially many vitamins and minerals. In addition, it also contains secondary plant compounds and particularly healthy bitter substances (intybin). Like other types of lettuce, it is very low in calories and rich in water. Thus, for 100 g there are just 16 kcal and 94.68 g of water.

In 100 g radicchio are, among other things:

  • 28 mg vitamin C
  • 40 mg calcium
  • 240 mg potassium
  • 11 mg magnesium
  • 10 mg sodium

In smaller quantities, B vitamins and iron are also found in the leafy vegetables.

The effect of radicchio on our body

The fact that radicchio is rich in vital substances and minerals makes it a real immune booster. The secondary plants it contains also have a positive effect on our metabolism.

The bitter substance intybin influences our body in several ways. On the one hand, it has a digestive effect and stimulates the production of gastric acid. Bile flow is also improved, which is particularly important for fat digestion. Other positive effects of bitter substances:

  • bitter substances stimulate the appetite
  • promote the flow of saliva
  • lead to increased insulin production
  • strengthen the immune system
  • have antipyretic effect
  • have an antidepressant effect
  • can help with exhaustion, fatigue and stress

Radicchio in the kitchen

The best known is probably the use of raw radicchio in salad dishes. It is not usually made into a salad on its own, as it tastes too bitter. However, in combination with other lettuce and vegetables, as well as sweet fruit, it can be used to make a delicious salad. Especially in combination with sweet fruit, such as in orange radicchio salad, it is really tasty, as this balances the bitter note. In Italy, on the other hand, radicchio is also lightly steamed or grilled and is often found in risotto.

Purchase and storage of radicchio

Radicchio has a very long shelf life. In the refrigerator, the leafy vegetable keeps between one and four weeks. As with other salads, when buying radicchio, just make sure that the leaves look crisp and fresh.

 

Asparagus - Noble and fine

Year after year, many gourmets enjoy the asparagus season. The noble vegetable is not only super versatile in use, but at the same time transforms any dish into a delicacy. However, before asparagus found its way into the kitchen, it was highly valued as a medicinal plant for a long time. In India, the spring vegetable used to be called the "healer of a hundred diseases". Thus, it was predominantly used to treat bladder problems, ulcers and coughs. 

The origin, properties and history of asparagus

Vegetable asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is a perennial herbaceous plant, which is distinguished between white and green asparagus. White asparagus grows underground, but when it comes into contact with sunlight, it turns purple. Therefore, in the case of pale asparagus, a further distinction is made between white asparagus and purple asparagus. The latter tastes somewhat spicier than white asparagus due to its natural colorants. Green asparagus, on the other hand, grows above ground and has a spicy-salty flavor.  

Asparagus was already popular in ancient Egypt as a food and medicinal plant. However, the light-colored stalks did not come to Europe until the 15th century. There it was considered a delicacy and for a long time was served only on special occasions. Because asparagus was so precious, it was first reserved for kings and princes. It was only in the course of industrialization that it also found its way into the kitchens of wealthy citizens. At the beginning of the 20th century, supply and demand increased so much that asparagus prices dropped and the vegetable became affordable for ordinary citizens as well. Today, you can buy asparagus in spring in any supermarket or vegetable market. The main producers are France, Spain and Italy. 

The ingredients of asparagus

Asparagus is a very low-calorie vegetable with only 21 calories, but it contains many important vitamins and nutrients: these include:  

  • Potassium 
  • Iron 
  • Magnesium 
  • Phosphate 
  • Vitamin A 
  • Vitamin C 
  • Vitamin E 
  • Vitamin B1 
  • Vitamin B2 
  • Vitamin B6 

The spring vegetable owes its unique taste to essential oils and the amino acid asparagine.  

 

The effect of asparagus on our body

Asparagus stimulates our metabolism and thus helps us flush annoying toxins from our body. In addition, vitamin C strengthens our immune system. Vitamin E also promotes the production and release of sex hormones. 

Asparagus in the kitchen

Asparagus can be used in the kitchen in many ways: raw, hot, cold, cooked, boiled - the spring vegetable makes every dish a delicacy. But asparagus is especially good in salads, soups, as risotto or as a side dish to potato dishes.  

During preparation, care should always be taken not to overcook the asparagus. Green asparagus needs only 5 to 8 minutes, while white and purple asparagus needs twice as long with 10 to 15 minutes.  

Purchase and storage

When buying asparagus, it is important to pay attention to freshness, because the vegetable should be processed no later than three days after harvesting, otherwise it loses its effect. Fresh asparagus has shiny stalks that squeak when rubbed together. In the case of white and purple asparagus, attention should also be paid to the head - this is tightly closed in fresh asparagus. The situation is completely different with green asparagus: Here, the head has already opened slightly due to exposure to light. Asparagus should not be stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for longer than three days.  

 

Saffron - the most expensive spice in the world

Saffron is a particularly expensive spice and is therefore also known in many places as "yellow gold". One kilogram of saffron costs up to 800 euros. This is mainly due to its laborious extraction: around 800 blossoms are needed to produce 5 grams of saffron. These are grown and harvested exclusively by hand. Since saffron is very productive and even small quantities are enough to give dishes a unique touch, many people do not have to do without the exotic spice despite the high price and can purchase it in smaller quantities.  

The origin, properties and history of saffron

The saffron powder as we know it is obtained from the fine pistil threads of the saffron flower. These are harvested by hand, dried and then packaged in small quantities and sold as a faithful spice. Since a saffron plant has only one or two flowers, each with three pistillate filaments, an extremely large quantity of saffron flowers is needed to produce the yellow spice.  

Unfortunately, it is not too uncommon for the spice to be stretched with other parts of the plant and then still be sold on the market at extremely high prices. To distinguish real saffron from fakes, you can put a small amount of saffron in a bowl of water or milk and observe how the saffron product behaves: If it quickly gives off its color to the liquid it is a fake, because real saffron also discolors the liquid - but it needs at least 10 minutes for this and does not lose its color. You can also recognize real saffron by its taste and aroma. Real saffron has a strong fragrance and a bitter aroma - it smells sweet but tastes slightly bitter. Stretched saffron, on the other hand, has a sweet note both in taste and aroma.  

Originally, saffron comes from the Middle East. However, the spice came to Europe early on, as it was already used by the Romans and ancient Greeks as a healing and coloring agent. According to Greek mythology, Zeus also slept in a saffron bed, as saffron is said to have increased the libido. This belief was also widely prepared among the Romans, which is why it was customary to distribute saffron leaves in bed on the wedding night.  

Today, saffron is grown mainly in Iran, Spain, Morocco, Greece, Italy, Turkey and even in Austria and Switzerland. Available is the spice throughout the year for up to 14 euros per gram.  

The ingredients of saffron

Saffron is very rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron. Vitamins, on the other hand, are represented only in smaller quantities. The tart taste is due to the bitter substance picrocrocin (saffron bitters) and the spice owes its golden color to the carotenoid crocin.  

The effect of saffron on our body

Saffron has an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect and is therefore often used to treat various diseases and ailments. It not only helps with liver and respiratory diseases, but also with menstrual cramps. The yellow spice is said to relieve mood swings, skin blemishes, breast tenderness and abdominal pain. In addition, saffron is also considered a mood enhancer among spices and is said to combat depressive moods.  

Saffron in the kitchen

Care should be taken when preparing saffron: If you cook the saffron threads for too long, they quickly lose their flavor and aroma. Therefore, the saffron threads should only be soaked for a few minutes in a little water, broth or milk and only add to the actual dish at the end. Saffron powder, on the other hand, does not require more precise preparation and can be used without any problems to season dishes at any time. Due to its aroma, saffron is well suited for oriental, Indian and Arabic dishes. But also traditional dishes such as Spanish paella, risotto, soups and sauces can be refined with the spice.  

Purchase and storage

When buying should pay attention to the quality. The Spanish coupe and Indian Sargol are the Mercedes' among the saffron species and are accordingly priced somewhat higher. If you want to buy good saffron, you should also look for the following letter and number combination on the label: "ISO 3632-2″. This value represents the so-called ISO classification and divides saffron into different quality categories depending on the crocin value (color value). The higher the content of natural colorants, bitters and fragrances, the more valuable the spice is. If you are unsure about the purchase, please ask a seller for advice. At home, saffron should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place. The best containers for this purpose are resealable containers made of dark brown glass or metal.  

 

Wild garlic - fresh spicy and healthy

Wild garlic is one of the freshest herbs in spring. Thanks to its unique spicy aroma, the leafy vegetable is ideal for refining soups, sauces and salads. Unmistakable in smell and taste, wild garlic enriches spring cuisine. The trendy vegetable is available from March onwards at weekly markets or in greengrocer's stores. But if you want to collect wild garlic yourself, you should know the differences to its poisonous doppelgangers.    

The origin, properties and history of wild garlic

Wild garlic is a deciduous plant and was already popular with the Germanic and Celtic peoples as a spice and medicinal plant. The leafy vegetable likes it moist and shady and therefore spreads from March in deciduous and mixed forests. Especially hobby cooks and sammer enjoy the green plant cover then. But care must be taken when collecting wild garlic, because the spring herb is very similar to the poisonous meadow saffron and lily of the valley. Even a small bite of the meadow saffron or lily of the valley is enough to cause symptoms of poisoning such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Therefore, it is even more important to search for wild garlic with a trained eye. Unlike the autumn crocus and the lily of the valley, whose leaves are shiny on the upper and lower side, the wild garlic has only one shiny side, the lower side of the leaves is dull. In addition, the wild garlic has only single leaves on one stem, whereas the lily of the valley has several leaves on one stem. Much less complicated in the distinction is the autumn crocus, because this has no stem.  

Wild garlic has an unmistakable taste thanks to its spicy garlic aroma and thus fully lives up to its name "wild garlic". Unlike garlic, wild garlic is not so intense in the finish and also does not affect our body odor so strongly.  

The ingredients of wild garlic

Wild garlic is a wonderful source of vital substances thanks to its numerous vitamins and minerals. In 100 grams of bear's garlic are among others:  

  • 150 mg vitamin C 
  • 200 µg vitamin A 
  • 2.87 mg iron 
  • 336 mg potassium 
  • 130 µg vitamin B1 
  • 200 µg vitamin B6 
  • 422mg chlorophyll 

With 150mg of vitamin C, wild garlic not only contains three times more vitamin C than oranges, but also exceeds the daily requirement of vitamin C by 150%. In addition, the leafy vegetable is rich in essential oils, sulfur and allicin.  

The effect of wild garlic on our body

Allicin is considered a natural antibiotic and can be used to treat various diseases and conditions. These include, for example, strokes, heart attacks and cancers. Wild garlic can also help with joint pain, digestive problems or high blood pressure - the leafy vegetable is a real health booster thanks to its valuable ingredients.  

Wild garlic in the kitchen

Because of its spicy aroma, wild garlic is well suited as a seasoning for salads, sauces and spreads. However, you should not heat the leafy vegetables, because wild garlic quickly loses its aroma during frying, cooking and baking.  

Buying and storing wild garlic

Fresh wild garlic is characterized by crisp green leaves and has no flowers, spots or discoloration. The leafy vegetable can be bought at weekly markets from April to May and should be processed as soon as possible after purchase. In the refrigerator, wild garlic can only be stored for a maximum of two days before it goes bad. But if you want to have something from the wild garlic a little longer, you can bathe the little green friend in olive oil and keep it well sealed in the refrigerator for a few months. Wild garlic can also be frozen, but the taste changes slightly.  

 

Spinach - Green and Fine

"Eat your spinach and you'll be as strong as Popeye" - I'm sure many of us heard this phrase as a little kid. Popeye is known for his supernatural powers, which he gets from spinach and which help him to defeat his opponents. Spinach used to be seen as the tonic par excellence, as it was believed that the vegetable had an above average iron content of 35mg. In fact, spinach contains slightly less iron than previously thought. However, this does not make the vegetable worse, because with its healthy ingredients, spinach manages to cover our daily requirement of numerous vitamins and minerals.     

The origin, properties and history of spinach

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) belongs to the botanical family of goosefoot. In total, there are about 50 different varieties of spinach. In practice, however, the leafy vegetable is only distinguished on the basis of its growing season: Fresh spinach is available from March to November. Accordingly, a distinction is made between spring and winter spinach. Spring spinach has particularly tender and short-stalked leaves and is also known as leaf spinach. Winter spinach is much sturdier and is harvested with its root base as a whole rosette of leaves. The so-called root spinach is therefore perfect for blanching.  

The spinach originally comes from the Near and Middle East and was bred there from wild spinach. It is assumed that the cultivated form was brought to Spain by the Arabs, where they gave the cultivated spinach the name "espinaca". From this name was derived the current name of the leafy vegetable. From then on, spinach became increasingly popular in large parts of Europe. Today, spinach can be bought all over the world. However, the vegetable is mainly grown in China, France, Italy and Belgium.  

The ingredients of spinach

In the past, it was believed that spinach can replace half the pharmacy, and in fact it could, because spinach can help cover our daily needs for certain vitamins and minerals. Thus, the leafy vegetable is rich in vitamin C, K, B2 and beta-carotene. It also contains significant amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Probably the best known ingredient in spinach is iron. Spinach used to be considered the protein source par excellence and was therefore popularly served to children and teenagers in the past to meet their protein needs. It was believed that 100 grams of spinach contained a whopping 35 milligrams of protein. However, the protein content is not quite that high - spinach contains only 3.5 milligrams of protein per 100 grams. The belief that spinach contains more protein results from a transcription error made by researchers in the 10th century. With its 3.5 grams of protein, spinach is still richer in iron than many other vegetables. In 100 grams of tomatoes, for example, there are only 0.6 grams of iron.  

The effect of spinach on our body

The green leafy vegetable has some positive effects on our body. It strengthens our cardiovascular system, protects our cells from oxidative stress and reduces the risk of cancer and diabetes diseases. In addition, due to its high protein content, spinach promotes muscle development and growth.

Spinach in the kitchen

There are many ways to use spinach in the kitchen. Young spinach leaves are ideal in their raw form for salads, soups and smoothies, while winter spinach is good in stews, casseroles or as a filling for roulades or ravioli. However, in order to lose as little of the ingredients or flavor as possible, winter spinach should only be cooked or blanched for a few minutes. In addition, care should be taken during preparation to wash the spinach just before use, so that it tastes fresher and crunchier.  

Purchase and storage of spinach

Just like chard, spinach is not a friend of storage. Spinach doesn't like it in the refrigerator and won't last more than two days there. Therefore, it is best to process and consume it immediately after purchase.  

When buying spinach, pay attention to one thing above all - the leaves: if they are limp and have yellow edges, it's better to leave them alone, because a good spinach has crisp green leaves without wilted spots or stains. Also, we recommend you go for organic spinach, as it is less contaminated with pesticides. If you want to buy packaged, pre-washed spinach, take a closer look at the packaging and the smell of the spinach when you buy it. If the packaging looks bloated or the spinach smells slightly like sour milk, it is no longer suitable for consumption and should therefore not be purchased.  

Chard - The leafy vegetable for spring cooking

Chard was already highly valued by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a food and medicinal plant. At the beginning of the 18th century, however, the spicy leafy vegetable was displaced by the fine spinach and therefore fell into oblivion. Today, chard is experiencing a culinary renaissance and is winning over more and more health-conscious people and gourmets.    

The origin, properties and history of chard

Chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris) is a very old cultivated plant, which was already cultivated several thousand years ago in Mesopotamia (Near East). The tasty vegetable quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean region and was very popular there, especially as a medicinal plant among the Romans and Greeks.  

Thus, the leafy vegetable used to be popular for the treatment of pneumonia or bronchitis. The Greeks also used the large chard leaves to dress wounds, while the Romans discovered their laxative effect and used them for digestive problems. Even today, chard has a firm place in folk medicine. However, its areas of application have been expanded, because nowadays it is mainly administered as a miracle cure for nervousness, earaches and mood swings.  

Due to its colorful leaves and stems, chard was also popular as an ornamental plant in ancient times. Chard owes its colorfulness in particular to betalains. These plant substances ensure that the chard stems, depending on the variety, shine in bright yellow, orange, red or purple. There are basically two different types of chard: the so-called cut or leaf chard and the stem chard. Leafy chard is characterized by its broad leaves and narrow stems, while stem chard has more narrow leaves and thick, fleshy stems. Regardless of the variety, the chard stems are definitely eaten with it. They have a rather mild, vegetable flavor. The leaves, on the other hand, have a taste reminiscent of a spicier and more aromatic form of spinach.   

The ingredients of chard

Chard is one of the healthiest vegetables in the world. The leafy vegetable contains numerous healthy vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Thus, even with relatively small amounts of chard, the average daily requirement of vitamin A, C, and K can be almost completely covered. In addition, chard has an above-average mineral content. For example, 100 grams of chard contain a total of 2.7 milligrams of iron. In comparison, meat contains only 1 to a maximum of 2.5 milligrams of iron. An overview of the most important ingredients of chard can be found here.  

In 100 grams of chard are:  

  • 90mg sodium  
  • 375mg potassium 
  • 100mg calcium  
  • 80mg magnesium 
  • 2,7 mg iron 
  • 40mg vitamin C  
  • 588 µg vitamin A 
  • 400 µg vitamin K  

contain  

The effect of chard on our body

Chard is considered a natural fitter thanks to its high content of vital substances. The vitamin C in chard strengthens the body's defenses and thus improves our immune system. The minerals magnesium, calcium and sodium, on the other hand, ensure that we can concentrate better and are no longer so nervous. This is especially beneficial in exam situations.  

Apart from that, chard is a good supplier of vitamin K and iron. While the vitamin K supports bone formation and promotes blood clotting, the iron is responsible for oxygen transport in the blood and therefore always provides our cells with energy. Furthermore, the contained vitamin A supports not only our nervous system, but also the fat digestion and provides still for a beautiful skin and better eyesight.  

Chard in the kitchen

In the kitchen, chard can be prepared in many ways. Depending on your preference, it can be cooked, steamed, boiled or blanched.  

However, since the chard is very heavily contaminated with pesticides, it must be washed thoroughly beforehand. To do this, simply cut off about a centimeter from the end of the stem and then rinse the vegetable well under running water. After that, the chard can be prepared as desired. 

Leafy chard can be used in a similar way to spinach and therefore goes well as a side dish with fish and meat dishes. After washing, you can cut the vegetables into small pieces and process them directly.  

With chard, however, it looks quite different: The stems take almost twice as long as the leaves. That's why they should be processed first after washing. If the stems are very fibrous, you should peel them first with a peeler. After the stems have already been boiled, cooked, bared, etc. for a few minutes in the pot or pan, you can add the leaves as well.  

Basically, the chard is well suited for sauces, risottos, or soups. But also in vegetable curry or puff pastry strudel the chard does well. Larger chard leaves can also be used for roulades instead of cabbage leaves. As with any vegetable, chard loses many important ingredients when cooked. Therefore, you can simply do without cooking and serve a delicious salad instead.

Purchase and storage of chard

Chard from conventional cultivation is very heavily contaminated with pesticides. That's why experts recommend buying organic chard, which is on average 50 percent less likely to be affected by pesticides. You should also make sure that the leaves have bright colors and no brown spots. The stems should also look crisp, fresh and juicy.  

Chard is not a storage vegetable and should therefore be processed as soon as possible after purchase. However, you can store it in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator for up to three days. You can simply wrap it in a damp cloth. If you want to enjoy chard all year round, you can easily freeze it. The best way to do this is to blanch it in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes before freezing it in portions. To do this, simply rinse the leafy vegetables thoroughly under running water, cut them into pieces and drain them well after blanching.