Monday, November 4, 2013

Beautiful, Versatile Orach Red {Mountain Spinach}

Orach-Red or Mountain Spinach (Atriplex Hortensis)
We have a new leafy vegetable in our garden this season: Orach Red. Isn't she beautiful?

Growing Orach Is Easy

I started this year's bunch from certified organic non-GMO seeds in August. (All of our seeds this year are certified organic, non-GMO.) Orach likes moderately fertile soil, plenty of organic matter, and moderate water.

Orach Red is a hardy annual with beautiful purple-magenta-red leaves and stalk. Its zippy purple-ish  is dazzling, but I really like its ability to tolerate more heat than regular spinach. When our warmer fall temps cause green spinach to bolt, Orach will keep calm and carry on!

Orach Red grows fairly rapidly--and tall. It's just a about 4 inches tall in the photo above, but it might grow to be 6 feet at maturity. Think about that if you decide to plant some in the spring.

Good To Eat

As an edible, we treat it just like common green spinach, adding the tender young leaves to add to salads and sauteing the large leaves. Orach Red has a slightly nuttier taste than green spinach, which I like. But, I like spinach. Period.

JUST FOR FUN: Drop a leaf into a boiling pot of rice to change your white rice to pink.

And, It's Good For You

We care about what we eat, right? You'll be happy to learn that Orach is rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, carotene, proteins, carbohydrates and anthocyanin (a coloring substance present only in the red variety). It also facilitates digestion, purifies the blood, helps cleanse the kidneys and the gall bladder; all this is according to something I read on The Web.

For the Food Preserver

Orach Red can be blanched and frozen like ordinary spinach, so I read. I haven't tried it.

For the Decorator in You

Floral designers often use large Orach leaves in their floral displays. I can already picture a tall glass vase filled with beautiful Orach Red on my Thanksgiving dinner table. 

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