How many of you have eaten mustard greens? Ok, now how many of you have grown these peppery plants?
The prime season for mustard greens is December through March, when they can be picked from cold frames and mini hoop tunnels, or found at your local farmers market. Not only are these humble greens packed with vitamins, but they’re a year round vegetable gardener’s dream as they are both easy and quick to grow, ridiculously cold tolerant, and add a lively bite to salads and stir-fries. I prefer my mustard greens raw, as part of a mixed salad, or lightly sautéed, rather than steamed. I love to experiment with the many different varieties like ‘Red Giant’, ‘Green Wave’, ‘Golden Frills’, ‘Osaka Purple’, and ‘Red Dragon’, but I will admit that I have a few favourites.
Niki’s favourite mustard greens:
- Ruby Streaks – No winter salad is complete without a handful of this super-frilly, purple-burgundy-green mustard. I sow seed in my cold frames in mid-September, and pick the baby-sized leaves all winter long. The flavour, especially of the younger leaves, is slightly less peppery than other varieties. A good choice for those who prefer milder tasting greens.
- Green Wave – This is a knockout! Not only is it the most heat-tolerant, bolt-resistant mustard in my garden, but it has incredibly ornamental, lime green leaves. The plants will grow up to 2-feet tall, but pack quite a peppery punch when mature. Temper the heat by stir-frying, or pick plants when young.
- Red Giant – Like ‘Ruby Streaks’, this favourite boasts purple-maroon tinged leaves, but among the dark mustard varieties, it offers the deepest ‘red’. Mustard grown in cold weather has less of a bite and we enjoy the large leaves of ‘Red Giant’ slivered in wraps, salads, sushi, stir-fries or simply sautéed with a bit of garlic. Yum!
Be a savvy seed shopper. Many companies offer mustard mixes, so you get to try a bunch of varieties at once. No need to buy a handful of separate seed packets!
Have you grown mustard greens?