Make Way for Mesclun!

by Zoë Abram

This past week you began to see more of our fall greens in the share … lettuce mix as usual, but also arugula and the mesclun mix. The cooler weather is perfect for fast growing, direct seeded greens. We plant five varieties of mustards and asian greens for the mesclun mix, a diversity of tastes that leads to an interesting mix of fresh and spicy. Each week we harvest the greens from their separate rows, and then mix them together after we wash them and spin them dry.

Here’s the breakdown.

Early Mizuna – High in beta carotene and other nutrients, mizuna is a cold tolerant mustard grown for eating raw or sautéed. Your salads will benefit from mizuna’s crisp stalks and beautiful green frond-like leaves. In the salad mix, it has a mild flavor that grows peppery as the plant matures. The word “mizuna” means “water greens” in Japanese. Mizuna is primarily cultivated in Japan, but is native to China.

Garnet Giant – Garnet giant is a dark red mustard, with leaves that are almost maroon. It develops spice as it grows, but is relatively mild until it’s largest size.

Ruby streaks – These are the deeply serrated, almost lacy leaves in the mix. It is both spirited and tender, adding texture and variety to salads.

Suehlihung – Though this mustard is similar to mizuna in appearance, it tastes quite different. Suehlihung tolerates a wide range of temperatures; it does well when the weather is cold but it also is slow to bolt if we get some hotter weeks unexpectedly.

Tatsoi – Similar to pak choi, tatsoi is a mild and delicious green. It is small and tender, perfect for salad. The appearance of the tatsoi in the field is a record of the weather. When it is warmer, tatsoi grows more erectly, and when temperatures drop close to freezing, it forms flat rosettes. In this first succession of greens planted for mesclun, the tatsoi did not germinate as well as some of the others. But hopefully it will be a bigger proportion of some of the mixes to come!

As described in the Garnet Giant section above, many mustards develop heat as they grow. Because of this change in flavor over time, our mesclun mix may be spicier or less spicy each week depending the stage of growth of the mustard greens. Unlike the lettuce, the arugula and mesclun can be eaten raw or cooked. If, on any given week, either option is ever too spicy for you to eat raw, simply sauté and the greens taste more mild.

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