Using 'Mustard Greens'
Heather Little-White, Ph.D., Contributor
What has come to be known as 'mustard greens' are the leaves of the mustard plant (Brasica juncea). It is a member of the cruciferous family which includes cabbage and cauliflower. Mustard is appreciated as a tasty relish and is made from the brown seeds of the mustard plant.
The mustard leaves may be emerald green or come in shades of dark red or deep purple.
As a vegetable, mustard greens are low in calories and highly nutritious, providing antioxidants for good health. Mustard greens are rich in:
- Antioxidant in Vitamin C
- Antioxidant in carotenes
- Folic acid
- Antioxidant in Vitamin E
- Vitamins B1, B2, B6
Menopausal women will find mustard greens are helpful in coping with the symptoms associated with menopause. It is documented that mustard greens prevent breast cancer and it promotes bone health through its rich content of calcium, magnesium and folic acid.
Mustard green is rich in fibre and known for its value in increasing satiety, pancreatic secretion and it delays the time gastric juices are emptied from the stomach reducing after-meal blood sugar levels. Fibre also keeps the functions of the digestive system healthy.
When you go to the market or green grocer, you should know how to select mustard greens. They should be free from blemishes, yellow or brown spots. They should have a bright, fresh green look or a lively dark red or deep purple colour.
Storing mustard greens properly extends the freshness of the produce. They should be placed in a plastic bag in which you have made holes and placed in the refrigerator to keep for up to five days. When mustard greens are cooked, they can stay refrigerated for up to two days.
Preparing for consumption
To rid the leaves of dirt and debris for use, place the leaves in a large bowl with ice water and salt and swish the leaves around and repeat twice until all dirt and insects are removed. Finally rinse with cold water only.
Preparing mustard greens for consumption is easy. If you are using the leaves for salads, fold leaves in halves along the stem and cut the folded leaves along the stem discarding the stem. For other methods of food preparation, the stem may remain as cooking will soften it.
1. Young leaves are used for fresh green salads
2. Cook with red beans or chick peas and rice
3. Sauté mustard greens in coconut oil with crushed nuts and a dash of lemon juice.
4. Sauté mustard greens with slivers of sweet potatoes or slices of tofu.
As a member of the cabbage family, mustard greens contain goitrogen, a naturally-occurring substance that may interfere with the thyroid gland but it would have to be consumed in extremely large amounts or if there is existing iodine deficiencies. When mustard greens are cooked, goitrogen compounds are inactivated. Persons with thyroid problems should not consume collard greens in its raw state.
As Jamaica moves to achieve food security, 'mustard greens' is another easy crop to grow in your backyard.