Malabar Spinach, or also known as Basella alba is a perennial vine and is widely used as a leaf vegetable. The vegetable isn’t true spinach, it is a climbing vine in its class. Basella alba is also called Vine Spinach, Ceylon Spinach, Creeping Spinach, and Red Vine Spinach. Even though the vegetable isn’t truly spinach, the taste of the vegetable is the namesake of Malabar Spinach as they pretty much taste the same.
Species: B. alba
Binomial name: Basella alba
Malabar Spinach Trivia
- Malabar Spinach is considered as the best tropical spinach in the world due to its adaptation to different climates.
- The plant can grow up to nine meters long
- The plant has thick and green leaves that can grow quite a bit. Malabar Spinach also has berries that comprise red liquid sometimes used as a dye.
Malabar Spinach Buying Guide
Always choose Malabar Spinach that has green and firm leaves. The color shouldn’t be too bright nor too dark.
Farmer markets are the best place to buy your Malabar Spinach.
Always avoid yellowing leaves and those that are wilted.
Malabar Spinach Production & Farming in Texas
The vegetable adores the summer in Texas and also provides tasty and nutritious leaves throughout the warm season. Some of the most common salads aren’t food for the summer. You can find most of the greens throughout the whole year but some of them like lettuce can’t stand the heat and are difficult to grow. This is where Malabar Spinach is so good. They grow in warm weather and is just what you need to substitute other greens during summer as a cool and crisp salad.
Malabar Spinach doesn’t have that many problems with pests and diseases but there are some. They’re sensitive to nematode damage. There is also a fungus Cercospora beticola which causes red spots in the leaves. They aren’t sprayed all that much with pesticides as there aren’t many problems to look out for.
The vegetable’s origin comes from tropical Asia and probably originated in Indonesia or India. Today it’s grown in tropical regions as a summer plant.
Malabar Spinach prefers moist soil with organic matter. The plant prefers direct sunlight throughout the day even though it can be grown in partial shade. Water it regularly as it requires constant moisture.
Just like many other greens, Malabar Spinach is most commonly packaged in small plastic bags. Before that, they’re usually shipped to the stores in large wooden boxes.
Enjoying Malabar Spinach
Malabar Spinach can be eaten raw in salads mixed with other vegetables and ingredients. The spinach can also be used as an individual vegetable if you want to showcase its particular strengths.
Malabar Spinach doesn’t store that well but it can last up to five days in the refrigerator. Wrap the leaves in the towel and put them in the plastic bags. They can store between two to five days in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Malabar Spinach with Black-Eyed Beans is one of the favorite Indian dishes that comprise this vegetable.
First, you’re gonna cook the black-eyed beans. Roast some of the spices you prefer in a pan until they’re fragrant. Put them in a grinder with grated coconut as well. Lightly crush garlic, chop the onions and dice the tomatoes. Rinse and separate the leaves from the stems. Chop both the leaves and the stems. Put some mustard after you heat the oil in the pan. Add garlic and saute for about five seconds before throwing in the chopped onions. When the onions are fragrant, throw in the tomatoes and coconut & spice paste. Stir for 2-3 minutes and add both the leaves and the stems of the spinach. Add a little bit of water, sprinkle with salt and stir some more. Boil the curry gently for about 6-7 minutes and add the cooked beans. Simmer again for 6-7 minutes. Take it off the flame and serve.
Malabar Spinach has plenty of health benefits and is highly nutritious.
The vegetable is also a great source of:
- Vitamins A & C
There are also other health benefits that the vegetable provides you with:
- Heart Health
- Treats Depression
- Prevents Dementia
- Provides Energy
When Are Malabar Spinach in Season in Texas?
To find out when Malabar Spinach are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.