Have you ever tried growing perpetual spinach? It grows in the most amazing patterns and has a heady flavor. Many culinary experts consider it a form of green art. Here are some of our favorite ways to cook and serve this succulent classic:
Culinary uses: No cook is going to leave old, green leaves sitting on the stove unattended. The tangy, spicy flavor of perpetual spinach seeds is closer to the flavor of real English spinach than most other types of green leafy vegetable. Young leaves are delicate and delicious raw on sandwiches and salads.
Older leaves can also be roasted and fried or sauteed and served raw. Perpetual seeds need to be sown properly and maintained throughout the season to avoid dormancy and poor harvest. You should always try to sow them as soon as they are bought, but not later than about a week prior to your first use. They will produce a small crop of green leaves during each season. The yield from the entire lot may not be substantial, but each individual plant will provide significant harvests.
Cooking tips: Sprinkle good quality flat salt over the young leaves to add a bit of flavor. Cook the seed in salted water only for a few minutes before adding them to any other ingredients or cooking methods. Use fresh green leaves instead of canned green leaves. For a real treat, sowing endless sets of young and old leaves together and grating them into a fine dust is a popular trick.
Cooking tips: After cooking, drain the seeds and young leaves and keep them aside to dry. They should be stored in a cool dark place such as a refrigerator. Any leftover residue will settle down and block sunlight during the growing season. So look out for sun protection when sowing perennial spinach.
Planting requirements are moderate, except in areas of full sunlight. Occasional watering is required for healthy produce. Mow the grass often to prevent it from grazing and spreading the seeds. Trim the undergrowth after seeding. Prune dead branches regularly to promote new growth.
Once established, this type of garden plant will provide an abundance of blooms year-round. Maintaining them is easy as there is very little maintenance required except for removing dead leaves at the correct times. The most important step is selecting the correct planting location.
Seeds should be sowed at least two to three feet deep. Young plants need more room and are encouraged to take up as much room as they need. The best places to plant are in full sun, as the leaves start to get bigger, and at an angle to the soil. Avoid planting in shady areas, as the soil may dry. Perpetual spinach grows best in full sunlight.
When the seeds are ready to be planted, dig a hole that is one to two feet deep. Plant seeds just ahead of the hole, in a thin layer. After planting, water the plants well to promote healthy growth.
Harvest once a month. The tops of the plants will have green leaves. Allow the leaves to wither and fall off before picking. Do not eat the seeds.
Remove the seeds from the plant, wash them in running water and place them in a food storage bag. Store them in a cool, dark spot until next spring. Use a sharp knife to remove any residual dust. Perpetual spinach will keep producing seeds through the winter months.
If the weather is too cold, store the seeds in a plastic zipper bag and store in the refrigerator. They will remain viable until March. Be sure to use the same bag each time. The seeds can be used in springtime for another variety of summer vegetables.