Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ice plant

The picture was taken by Naomi Ibuki, you find her Flickr profile and links to more of her photos here.

Heh. Ice plant proved to be a cool vegetable, although a bit slow to grow. It stays in its juvenile growth for six weeks before turning adult, a stage that can be prolonged for months in a lab (hopefully this is valid for a windowsill too). Then it blooms and start the seed production, and once the seeds are mature the plant dies, roots first. Since the plant collects salt in its leaves the withering plant will contaminate the underlying soil. The seeds can grow in this saltyness, but other herbs and vegetables will not survive, hence competitors for the earth are taken care of. The plant can grow in almost any soil, from well-drained sandy soils (including sand dunes), to loams and clays. Since it absorbs salt and other minerals from the soils it's a candidate for using as 'clean up plant' on polluted grounds.

Ice plant have thick leaves covered with big bladders, it do look frosted. It's hardly a surprise that it taste salt, and sour. You can eat it raw, in woks or treat as spinach (gee, have we heard that one before?), and you can crush the leaves to use them as a soap substitute. Seeds and fruits are edible too. If you collect ice plant leaves, fruits and seeds in the wild, DO CHECK THAT THE GROUND IS CLEAN, since every poison in a poluted ground will be amassed in the plant. Having done that, try this recipe I manage to find.

(serves 4)

In origin, this recipe is from the book ”Het Trädgård — odling & recept” (translates as ”Hot garden – cultivation and recipes”)

8-12 slices of bacon
2-3 tomatos, sliced
A giant handfull och ice plant (it says so!)
8 slices of whole grain bread
Gourmet quarg
salt and black pepper
Barbecue blues sauce

Fry the bacon in the oven (200¤C or approx 400¤F) for 7-8 min. Take it out and drain it from fat on domestic paper. Roast the bread in the meantime. Spread the quarg over four of the bread slices, cover with iceplant and add the tomato slices. Spice up the tomatos with salt and pepper, cover them with bacon and pour over the barbecue blue sauce. Add the last bread slices and cut the sandwiches into triangles.

(This is a recipe translatedfrom swedish, you can find the original here.)

Hm, ice plant needs added light, but appart from that it seems to be so hardy you'd have to jump on it several times before it dies. This is a candidate for sowing in that cheap seedling soil I've complained about so much.

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