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There are two main varieties of chrysanthemum leaves, small leaf and broad leaf. Both varieties have long green leaves attached to a slightly fibrous pale green to white stem. The leaves of the small variety are petite and delicate with serrated edges. The broad variety offers a thicker and larger leaf with rounded lobes. Their herbaceous flavor is similar to that of mustard greens and has a bitter bite that becomes more pronounced the longer the leaves are allowed to stay on the plant. When growing chrysanthemum for its leaves flower buds should be pinched off before they begin to bloom.
Chrysanthemum leaves are available fall through spring.
A member of the Asteraceae family chrysanthemum leaves are the greens of the annual plant, Garland chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium). This popular Asian green can be found sold under a variety of different designations including crown daisy, chop suey greens, Tong Hao in China, Shingiku in Japan and Tan O in Vietnam.
Chrysanthemum leaves are a nutritious green rich in fiber, Vitamins A and C, calcium and flavonoids. The leaves are particularly high in potassium, offering more of the mineral than even bananas. They also contain the antioxidant chlorogenic acid or hydroxycinnamic acid. Also found in coffee beans this antioxidant is and is being studied for use as a weight loss aid because of its ability to slow glucose release and absorption after eating. The nutrients found in chrysanthemum leaves are at their highest when enjoyed raw.
Chrysanthemum leaves are extremely popular in Asian cuisine. They are an important ingredient in Chinese hot pot, Taiwanese oyster omelets and chop suey. They can be stir-fried, parboiled, steamed and sautéed. Use raw or slightly wilted in salad preparations in lieu of dandelion greens, endive and kale. For best flavor do not overcook, the delicate leaves need only 30 to 60 seconds of heat and will become bitter and mushy if overdone. Their flavor pairs well with tahini, mirin, soy sauce, dashi, lemon, garlic, nuts and rice vinegar as well as other leafy greens.
The chrysanthemum holds significant importance in Japanese culture. Seen as a symbol of long life and royalty the image of the chrysanthemum flower is used as Japan’s Imperial Seal. The highest order in Japan known as, the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, is the most distinguished honor a citizen of the county can receive. The flower also known as Kiku is celebrated in Japan in the autumn on National Chrysanthemum day at the Festival of Happiness.
Native to 15th century East Asia, most notably China and Japan Garland chrysanthemum is part of the genus Chrysanthemum and a relative of the mum or Garden chrysanthemum. The Garden chrysanthemum successfully spread first to France then England in the late 1700’s where it was a celebrated ornamental flower. Both the Garden chrysanthemum and Garland chrysanthemum traveled throughout Asia where its flowers and greens were popular for culinary, decorative and medicinal purposes. The chrysanthemum thrives in mild to cold climates, if exposed to excessive heat or full sun the leaves will become tough and bitter.
Recipes that include Chrysanthemum Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
|White on Rice Couple||Beef Sukiyaki Hot Pot|
|Passionate Eater||Taiwanese Oyster Omelet|
|Taste With The Eyes||New Korean Salad: Chrysanthemum Greens, Chestnut, Persimmon|
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