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Keen on mustard greens

George “Sun” Hadley and his wife Lisa Fuller operate a biointensive farm called One Song Farm. Sun has been an organic farmer on Kauai for over 25 years, and the couple have farmed together for more than seven. Biointensive agriculture is an organic agricultural system that focuses on maximum yields from the minimum area of land. The goal is to improve and maintain soil fertility and long-term sustainability. One Song Farm also focuses on saving seeds and plants that grow easily on Kauai.

“If you have a perennial bush in the backyard, such as murungai, it will always give you food,” says Sun. “It’s genuine sustainability and we’re happy to share that knowledge at the market or during our workshops.”

On Sunday, May 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the couple will teach “Springtime Gardening” workshops. Lisa will teach a beginner biointensive farming class. Advanced students can join Sun and learn how to overcome Kauai’s unique challenges and grow an abundant garden. The workshop ends with an introduction to lacto-fermentation with tastings of kim chi, sauerkraut, and pickled vegetables. The class is $36 per person. For reservations, call 635-3020.

What’s Growing Now

Arugula, basil, beets, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage (green, red, Napa), carrots, chard (Swiss), chives (garlic), cilantro, collards, dasheen, eggplant, green beans, kai choy, kale (curly, lacinato), kohlrabi, lettuce (five varieties), mizuna, mustard greens (golden frill), nasturtium, onions (white, sweet yellow), perpetual spinach, radish (daikon, red), shallots, tat soi, Tahitian taro, watercress.

 

Kai Choy

Kai Choy, also known as Chinese mustard and gai choi, has been cultivated for thousands of years in China. The plant belongs to the cabbage family and resembles a non-heading Chinese cabbage (pak choi). There are three types of Chinese mustard: Leaf, with rapid growth, thick stems and large leaves; Heading, with large, light green leaves that are succulent, tender and sweet; and Stemmed, a variety in which the leaves are not used and the stem is peeled. Plants grow from one to three-feet tall, and their pungency increases as the plant matures. Cooking diminishes pungency.

Sun and Lisa grow a variety called Tainong Emperor Heading Mustard, which is a unique crop to America and makes large, very crisp heads that taste mild and a little bitter, but with a good mustard flavor. These are superb for pickling, frying and in soups.

Season: Tainong Emperor Heading Mustard can be grown year-round on Kauai and takes 60 days to reach maturity.

 

What to look for

Select loosely shaped heads with enormous, sturdy green leaves.

Storage

Placed in a plastic bag, mustard greens will store for up to one week in the refrigerator.

      Preparation

Use mustard greens in salads, soups, stir-fries and in sauerkraut or kim chi. I like to cut the leaves from the juicy stem, dice them and sauté for about two minutes with olive oil, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Once they are just soft, I add the minced leaves and top with two poached eggs. Lisa enjoys adding chopped Chinese mustard to chicken broth with garlic, salt and pepper.

Health benefits

One cup of mustard greens contains 15 calories, 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Mustard greens are a rich source of vitamin K (348 percent of the daily value), vitamin A (118 percent DV) and vitamin C (65 percent DV). This food is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol; a good source of niacin and phosphorus; a very good source of vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese. On a scale of zero to 250, mustard greens’ glycemic load is one.

One Song’s produce can be found at: Farmers Market: Namahana Farmers Market (Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Grocery: Harvest Market, Healthy Hut and Papaya’s Natural Foods and Cafe. Restaurants: The Garden Cafe.

 

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