Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
January 19, 2019, 04:24:47 pm

Login with username, password and session length

Search:     Advanced search
* Home FlashChat Help Calendar Login Register
Currently there are 0 Users in the Cas City Chat Rooms!
Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  Cosie's Corner & Feed Bag (Moderator: Delmonico)  |  Topic: Leaf,stem and flower vegtables 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
Pages: [1] Go Down Print
Author Topic: Leaf,stem and flower vegtables  (Read 1284 times)
Deputy Marshal
Top Active Citizen
Offline Offline

Posts: 24758

« on: May 25, 2016, 07:26:12 pm »

Leaf, Stem and Flower Vegetables

Leafy vegetables is the name often given to plants where the part eaten is the leaf, the leaf stem and in the case of the Globe Artichoke, the flower bud or as in cauliflower and broccoli, the flower bud and stem, these are eaten when the parts are young and tender.  Most have a short growing time and were available through most of the growing season although hot dry weather can make the plants tough and bitter and causes them to bolt, (produce flowers and seed) since many are annuals. 

Sometimes types of leaf vegetables are called greens or pot herbs, these are most often ones where the leaf and stem are steamed or boiled and are often cooked with a piece of cured pork for flavoring and often served with pepper sauce and/or vinegar.   Often refers to turnip tops, beet tops, mustard leaf as well as similar type plants, as well as a large variety of wild plants, which will not be covered here.   

Most domesticated plants used as greens are quick growing cool weather species that are frost resistant, these qualities alone helped make them important vegetables in the past, due to the fact they can be planted early in the spring to help with the lack of Vitamin C caused by winter, some in milder climates will winter over and produce a quick crop during winter warm spells and right after sprint thaw, for someone suffering from scurvy this could be a life saver.
Many of these greens can be found in the produce section of large grocery stores and in local farmers markets and can also easily be grown in home gardens.

Asparagus Family/ Asparagaceae

Asparagus: Asparagus officinalis

Asparagus is a perennial spring vegetable in which the young shoots of the plant are eaten.  It was once considered a part of the Lily Family but it and its near relatives are classified in their own family Asparagaceae, the asparagus being the only member of the family cultivated for food. The wild asparagus has its origins most likely in the coastal regions of the Mediterranean; it was know to ancient Egyptians, as well as the Greeks and the Romans all which held it in high esteem.  The asparagus does well in the wild in any area it is introduced to, so tracking its exact origins down is difficult. 

It is not known exactly when it was brought to America, but Thomas Jefferson was fond of it and had a large area for the growing of it at Monticello.   It is most likely that it came with most of our other common vegetables with the early settlers. 

Asparagus comes in three colors, the common green, purple and white.  The purple is a mutant strain popular in Italy although it is sometimes seen in the United States.   White asparagus is the common green type that has had the shoots kept from the sun by piling a loose layer of dirt over the stalks while they are growing, this cause the plant shoot to stay white because with out sunlight the chlorophyll needed for photosynthesis does not form, causing a more tender and delicately flavored shoot.  The extra labor involved makes white asparagus more costly.

Amaranth Family/Amaranthaceae)

The plants in this family are cold tolerant and can be planted in early spring and will produce through out the summer and late into the fall.

Common Beets:Beta vulgaris subspecies vulgaris

Beets in our modern world are often not thought of as anything but a root vegetable, but the young leaves and stems make my favorite of the greens.  The seed of the beet in fact is not a seed at all, but a fruiting body containing one or more seeds, these will often sprout up 2-4 plants together.  When they reach a size big enough to make greens, thin by carefully pulling the excess plants and cook them with the small beet root attached.   

Chard/Beta vulgaris subspecies cicla

Chard, also known as Swiss Chard or sometimes referred to as Leaf Beet in old referances, is the same species as the common garden beet it is just a slightly different sub-species, both are descended from a wild beet called a Sea Beet that grows along the shores in the Mediterranean Sea.  Popular on the European continent, it was not grown or used much in the United States till after the Civil War.  Chard has green leaves but the stem  which is also eaten can range from white, to yellow to read and makes a colorful pot herb, often putting it both now and in the past on tables where other type greens would not be seen. 

Both of the above types of Beta vulgaris are biennials, although if planted early in the spring they sometimes have a tendency to bolt (flower and produce seed) in hot weather if planted early in the spring.   

Spinach/Spinacia oleracea

Spinach is an annual that has it’s origins in the Middle East and is thought to have reached Italy in the 9th century and traveled to Spain and then the rest of Europe, reaching England in the 14th century, it made it to America through the early settlers from England and other countries. 

Today it is probably safe to say that spinach is the most popular pot herb in the United States, this has not always been the case, and a 1911 Grocers Guide says it is “increasing in popularity.”  Two factors contribute to the increase; one is the increase in immigrants from Italy and Sicily where the cuisine uses far more than a boiled or steamed vegetable side dish.   The other is selective plant breeding, the older varieties were very quick to bolt in hot weather the newer types are more heat resistant,  making it an easier crop to grow in both commercial applications and the home garden.  Of course there were pretty much three generations (Starting as a comic strip in 1929) that grew up on Popeye cartoons which has been debated many times as to if it has had anything to do with the increase in spinach sales, one has to think it has at least a minor factor in it.  One other use for spinach is the juice, in the time period depicted here, it is the juice from cooking spinach, often used as a green food color, and today in a world where some folks are moving away from artificially made products this use is coming back.

Spinach like most greens is very cold resistant and can be planted very early in the spring and can also be planted in late summer and the fall and in an area with a mild winter will slowly produce all winter long in some case.  In most cases it at least will survive the winter and can be a very early spring harvest. 

There are also greens sold as seed and as finished greens that go by the names of New Zealand Spinach and Chinese Spinach, these are not true spinach and any popularity they have gained is in the 20th century later, beyond the scope here. 

Cabbage Family/Brassicaceae

The plants in this family are very cold tolerant, and can be planted in the spring and due well being planted in late summer, often producing after light frosts.   Some of the most well know are actually sub-species of the same species, Brassica oleracea, which is a wild cabbage that grows in Southern and Western Europe along the coasts.  The wild cabbage can be used for food, the leaves resemble turnip leaves. 
This wild cabbage was among the early vegetable crops grown in Europe, although exact date is unknown, some of the primitive forms of the cultivars were around in at least the 7th or 8th century BC, thanks to careful selection of the mutations of the wild cabbage.   

Some cultivars of this group contain pigments called anthocyanin type, these give the plant red, purple or blue colors, depending on the Ph of the soil, these are the same pigments seen in blueberries and other fruits, Neutral Ph gives a purple cast, alkaline a red and acidic a blue.   

Plants of this family also can be fermented with Lactobacillales also known as lactic acid bacteria, these bacteria are what sours milk and sourdough, they convert some of the simple sugars in the plants to lactic acid.  The acid formed as well as the salt normally added to such foods preserves it from spoilage from other microbes, two common examples are sauerkraut and Kim Chee.


Brassica oleracea subspecies Italica

Broccoli is a very close relative of Cauliflower, developed in Italy by at least the 6th century BC, both the unopened flower head and the flower stems are the part most often eaten.  Broccoli’s cultivation and use in America is a bit murky, most sources say it’s origins in the United States dates to the 1920’s and the mass influx of Italian immigrants.  Yet is does show up in a few 19th century cook books although often the recipe calls for either broccoli or cauliflower.  Also Thomas Jefferson records that he grew broccoli. 

The answer may be in reference books from the era:

The Market Assistant, Containing a Brief Description of Every Article of Human Food Sold in the Public Markets of the Cities of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn.
By Thomas Farrington De Voe
New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1867.

“Broccoli.--This excellent plant is a variety of the cauliflower, but considered not quite so delicate in flavor, the head or flower of which being somewhat of a purple cast, while that of the cauliflower is of a creamy white. However, the qualities and varieties of both broccoli and cauliflower have become, by cultivation, so nearly alike--especially of the white varieties--that it requires the botanist to distinguish between them. Broccoli is in season from September to November, and may be kept longer if hung up by the roots in a cool place.”


“BROCCOLI: a variety of the common cabbage produced by cultivation. It is very similar to the Cauliflower, but more highly colored. It is not grown as much as formerly, as Cauliflower is now in the market nearly all the year.”   

So is broccoli period or not, an interesting question, notice the description of the color in the first one, that may be referencing to one of the cultivars of cauliflower containing pigments of the anthocyanin type.   This pretty much explains the first reference, but makes the second confusing, why did he say it was a similar to cauliflower, a cauliflower with the anthocyanin pigments are not hard to mistake, they are just colored cauliflower, and to be truthful it is hard to say broccoli resembles cauliflower and vice-versa.    But there is another little known sub-species of Brassica oleracea, often called Romanesco Broccoli or Brassica oleracea  sub-species Romanesco  a plant that has green (or sometimes colored) heads with a look more like but not exactly, like cauliflower.  This is making a slight comeback today and is sometimes touted as a new cross between broccoli as we commonly know it and cauliflower; it may be this, but dates back a lot longer, perhaps over 2000 years.

I will admit, this problem with broccoli has me thinking the above statements are right, but I must admit I’m not 100% sure, I am not saying broccoli should not be used in the historical camp, but I will say I would have a hard time justifying it based on the evidence I’ve seen. 

Brussels Sprouts/Brassica oleracea subspecies Gemmifera

Brussels Sprouts are very close relative to the common head cabbage, Brussels Sprouts it form small heads 1-1 ½ inches in diameter at the base of the leaf stem.  Most likely a mutant of the common cabbage, and popular in Belgium, it may have originated there, the name hints it was, thought to be one of the newer of this species it does not show up in written accounts till around the 13th to 15th century.

Most likely brought to America by the French, it is one of many plants mentioned by Thomas Jefferson that were grown in his gardens.   It was not a popular vegetable in the United States till into the 20th century when it became an important commercial crop in California.  Seed catalogs offered it, but few mentions of it are found in cook books of the time period.

Cabbage/Brassica oleracea subspecies apitata

Cabbage was one of the most important vegetables in the 19th century diet, it was easy to grow and harvest, it produced a lot of crop per acre, it kept well in a cellar or similar cool storage, also when changed into sauerkraut through a fermentation process involving lactic bacteria it is preserved very well and can be kept a year or more in a wooden barrel.  This fermented cabbage retained a lot of the vitamin C in the cabbage, making it an important scurvy preventive. 

The true cabbage as we know it with the tight heads established itself as a type 1000-1500 years ago and had spread beyond the coastal areas into the interior of Europe and became one of the most important crops, it grew well in the cooler climate of Europe caused by the climatic change known as the Little Ice Age.  Cabbage was one of the first crops brought to America by the settlers; it has remained a popular crop for truck farmers even today.  In this modern world though in the United States, the majority of cabbage eaten, is eaten raw in the form of coleslaw, sauerkraut, even though not needed as a preserved item, still accounts for second place for cabbage use in the United States, most sauerkraut today is actually canned, making storage a lot easier.

Our common head cabbage comes in 3 distinct types; white/green, red and Savoy, with the white being the most popular:

White cabbage (Brassica oleracea  subspecies  capitata type alba) is the most used variety of cabbage. There are many cultivators suitable for different climates and growing conditions.  The heads range from dark green to almost white, fairly flat to round and loose leafed to tight.  These are the least expensive types to buy in the grocery store and are suited to most dishes.

Red Cabbage: (Brassica oleracea subspecies  capita type rubra) is simply a type white cabbage that showed signs of pigments of the anthocyanin type and were bred to increase the content, a common occurrence in other cole crops.  These were bred for the color they add to dishes and are often used as color in coleslaw.  Red cabbage was often pickled in brine and vinegar in the past.  This pigment is also an antioxidant and red cabbage does keep longer is storage.

Savoy Cabbage: (Brassica oleracea subspecies  sabauda)  is a type of cabbage with a wrinkled leaf, thought to originate in the Savoy region in the border of region of France, Italy and Switzerland, this type, most likely dates to the early 16th century, there is mention of it in 19th century references as being available in this country; the texture this type is more tender and it is milder flavored.

Cauliflower/Brassica oleracea subspecies Botrytis

Cauliflower is like broccoli in that the flower buds and stems are the part eaten as a vegetable.   Another relative of the cabbage, it was developed in the northeastern Mediterranean region and dates to at least 600 BC.  It appeared in America in the late 18th or early 19th century, accounts from the period indicate in the markets of this country it was a rather expensive vegetable.  Mark Twain said, “Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.”

Cauliflower was most often boiled, steamed, used in soups and was a popular vegetable to pickle, often with small onions and cut up bell peppers.   Several references do mention different types of battered and fried recipes very late in the 19th and the very early 20th Century, dish that remains popular today

Collards and Kale/Brassica oleracea subspecies Acephala

Collards and kale are different varieties of the same species, generally speaking if it has a smooth leaf it is a collard and if is has a curly, ruffled leaf it is kale, plus kale tends to have a greyer leaf although other colors such as red and purple are often seen, some cultivators of kale have smooth leaves adding to the confusion. 

These are simply a slightly improved version of the true wild cabbage. The collard and kale were important food plants in the gardens of the Middle Ages, they thrive well with minimal work and cultivation, the can be sew broadcast and harrowed in and will tend to choke out the weeds, a plus for the primitive agriculture practiced in this era.  It does not keep well fresh, but like other members of the family it can be fermented and preserved that way.

 These plants had made there way to the United States by the 17th Century.  Collards are often associated with the cuisine of the south eastern United States, in fact in many regions of the south they can be planted in the early fall and harvested in the early winter, collards are very tolerant of very cool weather and frost, of course the same is true about kale.

Kale used to be known as borecole and collards as colewort, shortening and a slight changing of the way they are pronounced gives us today’s common names.  Although collards remained popular as a pot herb in the Southeast United States, kale had slipped to the point that for many years it was used as a garnish, plus some ornamental versions were developed. (Edible but often bitter)  In recent years it is seeing a big comeback and is being used again as a pot herb.

Kohlrabi/Brassica oleracea subspecies Gongylodes

Kohlrabi is another close relative of the cabbage; it is a bit unusual in that it is raised for its edible stem which swells up and is 2-3 inches in diameter when ready to harvest and use.   Sometimes in the past it was called a Dutch Turnip or Cabbage turnip.  In fact kohl is German for cabbage and rabi is a variant of turnip in German. 

The exact origins of the kohlrabi are not known but it was known in 16th century Europe and came to America by at least the early 19th Century.  Kohlrabi has never had the popularity in America that it has had in central Europe, it has remained mostly a crop of home gardeners and small local produce farmers.  Seldom seen in most produce sections of stores, if one does not raise their own, small local farmers markets are the best bet to find it in season.  It can be and is used in about any recipe that cabbage or turnips are used in, although it tends to be milder than either of them.

Mustard/Brassica juncea

One of several species of mustards, this one often used for pot herbs is called Brown Mustard, Indian Mustard, Chinese Mustard or Leaf Mustard.  All species of mustards are closely related to radish and turnips.  The wild versions grow through out Asia and were introduced to Europe via the trade routes and to American through the early settlers; mustard has escaped cultivation and in many places grows wild as a weed. 

Mustard for greens does best in cooler damper weather and is not very tolerant of hot dry weather as far as harvesting tender greens.  It will start to produce greens in 3-4 weeks after planting in most cases and is best planted in the early spring and the fall. 

Radish/Raphanus sativus

Radish can be and was utilized in the past for greens, seldom used for that in the United States today, there cold tolerance and some of the varieties quick growth meant in the past they could be grown quickly and fresh greens could be picked in about 2 weeks making them perhaps the fastest growning green, important in the past to help cure cases of scurvy. 

Turnip Greens/Brassica rapa  subspecies  rapa

Turnips are another root crop that the tops can be used for greens when young and tender.  Like most pot herbs they are best in cool damp weather and get tough and bitter in hot dry weather.  Although there are cultivators of turnips that do not produce large edible roots, most home gardeners plant turnips in the early spring and late summer, then thin the stands using the plants removed for greens and giving the ones left room to produce nice roots.   

Parsley Family:Apiaceae

This family has several plants that are used for food, both greens and roots, also a lot of spices and herbs are in the family such as cumin, parsley, dill and many others.  Also it contains some that are deadly poison such as hemlock.   

Daucus carota subsp. sativus

Not often done today, carrot tops make fine greens/pot herbs, there are unfounded rumors that these are poison, but totally untrue, although the tops of the similar parsnip should never be eaten or handled more than needed, they can cause skin irritation and worse to the throat and esophagus if eaten.

Celery/Apium graveolens  subspecies dulce

This is a crop that has it’s origins in the Mediterranean region and was well known to the Greeks and Romans, the stalks we know today were not often eaten because with out careful cultivation they are tough and bitter.  The leaves and seeds were used for both medicine and as flavoring. And still are today, making it a food as well as a spice and herb.       

It is thought that around the 16th century Italians developed less bitter types and learned to blanch it while it was growing.   This consists of protecting the stalks from sun light with dirt, boards or other methods.   This makes the whiter milder tasting celery that is so popular.  Today there are self blanching types for the home gardener, but the quality is not up to commercial standards. 

Celery made its way to America most likely some time in the late 18th century or early 19th century, but it was not a popular crop till after the Civil War.  In fact The Market Assistant by Thomas De Voe from 1867 does not even mention it.  There are recipes that date to even before the Civil War that do have it in the ingredients but they use only a stick or two for flavoring.  Originally a spring vegetable, new cultivars that were more heat restraint plus it being a vegetable that stores and ships well, as well as it being productive in green houses made this a vegetable that could often be obtained most of the year by the end of the century.   

The real start of the popularity of this vegetable dates to the 1870’s and some Dutch settlers near Kalamazoo Michigan who started growing it and marketing it.  By the turn of the century celery had became a popular vegetable, and was grown in many places besides Michigan, Artemas Ward in his 1911 Grocer’s Encyclopedia  Mentions it was grown in New York, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, California and Bermuda assuring a supply being in season all year long.   

Sunflower Family: Asteraceae

Artichoke/Cynara cardunclus  subspecies  scolymus

The true Artichoke or Globe Artichoke ( Not to be confused with the Jerusalem Artichoke a root vegetable.) is a plant in the thistle family, the unopened flower bud it the part eaten.  Both the leaves of the bud and the core, known as the heart are eaten.   The modern artichoke is an improved cultivated variety of another member of the thistle family known as the Cardoon which is native to the western and central Mediterranean regions. 

Not a popular vegetable in the past in either the United States or England, it was most likely brought to American by the Spanish and French settlers, it does show up in a few 19th century American recipe books, grocery lists and seed catalogs.  It gained more popularity in this country in the early 1900’s, when it became an important commercial crop in California, partly because of the influx of immigrants from Italy. 

Lettuce/Lactuca salitva

Lettuce is cold tolerant and the season can run from early spring to late fall, it has a tendency to bolt in hot dry conditions.  Lettuce was most likely developed from the wild or Prickly Lettuce /Latctuca serriola, a plant native to Eurasia and North Africa and now naturalized in North America, up to perhaps 6,000 years ago somewhere in the Mediterranean region.  Lettuce was said to have first been brought to North America by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage and was most likely brought by every group of settlers who came to colonize America because of how fast it grows from planting to harvest.

Today when most people think about lettuce, they think of the tight heads of lettuce you see most times in any produce section of any store.  This is not the lettuce of the 19th century, today this type is called iceberg but was originally called crisphead, the iceberg name came along when it got to be common to ship this type in ice packed rail cars in the 1920.  This type of lettuce became popular because it was easy to ship and kept better than the loose leaf types.   The seed for this type came on the market in the mid-1890’s and could have been seen in a few home gardens.   

The loose leaf lettuce was the common type of the era although some cultivators such as the Romaine do form loose heads and was a common variety grown.  Because these types did not ship well with the methods of the time, it was one of the first crops to be grown commercially in greenhouses in or near large cities, although the cost made it to expensive for the working classes.  Thomas Farrington De Voe mentions this practice in his 1867 book, “The Marketing Assistant.” 

Today we most often think of eating lettuce raw as a salad or a garnish on a sandwich, but in the post it was often also added to soups.   For the historic cook that is buying produce, the Romaine that is fairly common in most any produce section is very period correct and is often easier to find and better quality than some of the loose leaf type you see and the Romaine will travel and keep better in camp..

The first 4 pictures are from the Solomon Butcher Collection, the first two show a celery field, the first showing boards set up to blanch the celery, the second shows them removed for harvest.

The next two show typical gardens of the era and note that cabbage is in both. 

The first color is a color plate from the 1911 Grocer’s Encyclopedia by Artemas Ward from 1911showing asparagus.

The last is a head of Romanesco Broccoli mentioned in the text, a googled picture, creator unknown.

* a.jpg (187.69 KB, 580x480 - viewed 261 times.)

* b.jpg (156.4 KB, 640x425 - viewed 234 times.)

* c.jpg (197.21 KB, 508x479 - viewed 240 times.)

* d.jpg (180.56 KB, 575x480 - viewed 217 times.)

Mongrel Historian

Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
Deputy Marshal
Top Active Citizen
Offline Offline

Posts: 24758

« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2016, 07:27:04 pm »

Last 2 pictures.

* e.gif (229.68 KB, 383x575 - viewed 225 times.)

* romanesco-cclfcr-isaacmao.jpg (105 KB, 550x400 - viewed 245 times.)

Mongrel Historian

Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
Pages: [1] Go Up Print 
Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  Cosie's Corner & Feed Bag (Moderator: Delmonico)  |  Topic: Leaf,stem and flower vegtables « previous next »
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.069 seconds with 22 queries.