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 


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.