Darsham Nurseries Cafe, potager, kitchen garden, vegetables from seed, harvesting vegetables,
The Daily Dibber

Kitchen gardener for the Darsham Nurseries Cafe. Seedaholic. Grower and lover of food and flowers.

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Succulent Healing

Take a moment and feast your eyes on this sumptuous succulent superfood. I refer to it as ‘Claytonia’ but it is more commonly known worldwide as ‘Miners Lettuce’ or ‘Cuban Spinach’. This hardy winter green is closely related to purslane and has a fascinating history hidden within its juicy leaves.

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This was first discovered in the late 17th century by a botanist called John Clayton, it then became a staple part of the diet of the Native Indians. In 1849 the miners working the gold rush in California had it added it to their menu, not realising the astonishing health benefits of this underappreciated hardy salad crop.

I like to imagine thousands of hungry sweaty miners stuck in a camp with a lone overworked inept doctor. Whiskey laden fistfights, ladies of the night, and a harassed cook struggling to make supplies stretch as the word spread of free gold. ‘Claytonia’ is a prolific self-seeder, perhaps that is how it spread from the Native Indians settlement to the boundaries of the mining camps.

Luckily, for the workers, 100g of raw ‘Claytonia’ leaves gives 33% of the daily-recommended dose of Vitamin C, 22% of Vitamin A and 10 % of Iron. Remarkably, this little crop prevented and cured scurvy all by itself.

Why in 2016 is this easily grown and highly nutritious leaf not widely available in supermarkets and offered as a side salad in the school dinner kitchen ?

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Here at Darsham, the seeds were first sown last September and harvesting will commence shortly. My only regret is that I did not sow more; I have never seen a salad crop like this one. It is oddly beautiful, the individual florets resembling little water lilies. Its leaves are delicious and packed with goodness, taste wise it’s juicy, crunchy and slightly peppery. It can be cooked just like spinach but is best raw or pickled.

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Feb 2016

limegarden@sky.com • 19th February 2016


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1 Comment on Succulent Healing

Ann @Ann Edwards Photography said : Guest Report one year ago

not only tastes good, but does one good too - a win-win situation!

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