Sea Kale (Crambe maritima)

Sea Kale (Crambe maritima)


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Sea Kale is a perennial relative of Cabbage and Kale, native to the UK and other parts of Europe, where it grows along the coast (hence the name).

Traditionally it is the young leaves blanched (light excluded, for example, with a Rhubarb pot or less glamorously, an overturned bucket) which have been eaten (like white asparagus). These are excellent lightly boiled or sautéed, particularly with a splash of lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Later in the year, the florets can be used like broccoli, although the flavour is, to our taste, much superior. The leaves can be eaten at any stage, although once mature they are tougher than regular kale, and generally more bitter, so they require longer cooking. The roots are also edible, roasted or boiled, and taste a bit like swede only with more nuttiness. Although eaten in the British Isles long before this, the Victorians we apparently so fond of Sea Kale, that it was nearly foraged to extinction in the wild. Despite being native to Europe, it also had a period of popularity in the United States, and grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello from 1809 onwards.

Sea Kale also performs well as an ornamental, with its large, attractive glaucous leaves, and sprays of sweet scented, perfect white flowers. And they’re extremely cold-hardy, but they won’t tolerate water-logging – they prefer a light soil with good drainage, in a spot that receives plenty of sun. For best long term results, we recommend that you let the plant establish itself this year, and only harvest the following season. This should ensure that it will produce good yields for at least the next 5-7 years, although they can live for over 10 years.

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