Wednesday Food Post- On Eating Wild(er) Greens
It’s occurred to me many times over the past few years that if I’m ever to increase the frequency with which I write then I have to, ya know… write more. I look back at the days when I pumped out 3 or more essays a week and I’m a little baffled. I often had a baby on my back and just so many things going on, but I still managed it and genuinely enjoyed the practice. Those years had a very different rhythm, and just because I think I am supposed to have more time/bandwidth/etc for writing at this stage of my life doesn’t mean that’s how it actually shakes out and feels.
One thing I did do back then that helped me write more often was to have some structured posts. It generally went like: every Wednesday was a food share (which I called the “Wednesday Food Post” or “WFP”), every Friday was a farm update, and every Monday I’d share something more philosophical and abstract that I’d been chewing on. It was a great practice for me and I kept it going for years, basically until 2016 when we were finished with the house build and I had less access to the internet. I also became really preoccupied with building up the farm infrastructure, spending more time with the people I love after a whirlwind few years, and I also felt a pull to limit my time on the internet and social media. This space became kind of a casualty of all of it, despite the fact that I had so much to share.
I’ve done some sharing on social media that has been good and reminiscent of what I used to do here, but it has its limits. It also has the added consequence of increasing my usage every time I make a post like that- the design of social media and the engagement it invites creates a kind of short term attention high/crash that I’m sure we all are familiar with. In some ways it’s great to be with my community like that, to see who’s connected with what I’ve offered and to get a sense of what might be of value to folks. On the other hand it’s a bit of a detraction from the act of service, because suddenly my energy and attention has shifted from the external offering to that of the internal experience that the AI has designed for me as the creator. I’m not a purist, this is our world and I aim to be a part of things. But it’s tricky and can actually bind up my creative energy rather than nurture it.
And so I’m feeling the pull to jump back in to this practice- I’ve greatly missed it and I have been convicted lately about the idea that we all have gifts that are meant to be offered up. It’s a simple reality that if we don’t share our unique lives and perspectives with the world, they are lost forever.
And so, on to the food! Did you know that you can eat sweet potato leaves? I just learned about their edibility this past year, and it was great timing because we decided to grow lots of them with some friends in one of the hoop houses out at The Cooperative at Dawn Farm. I’d been munching on them all summer, but since the frost started to kiss the edges of the plants I realized I should do a heavier harvest and store some for use over the winter.
I do love kale, and chard, and spinach, and all the more commonly used leafy greens. This year I’ve eaten very little of any of them, mostly due to my shifting farm practice and the fact that I’m just spending less time in the garden and more time out-in-it. It’s been all about nettles and sorrel and rocket and raspberry leaves and whatever else I come across… While sweet potato leaves are definitely not a wild green, they fit the brief in that they were just so abundant and available and didn’t take separate cultivation and labor. They thrive all summer long in the amazing heat of the hoop house while other leafy greens wilt or bolt. Also, they are really delicious. Texturally like spinach and mild in flavor, I’m a big big fan. I put them in a tomato pie the other day and Jeff was like “What are these greens? They are great!” They are, in my opinion, an uncontroversial and delicious food and are amazingly nutritious.
I brought my big harvest of them home and did a simple blanch and freeze. A trick I learned from fellow homesteaders is to freeze blanched greens in muffin pans. Once frozen you can transfer them to bags and they are easier to parse out into meals than if they were frozen in a big clump. I love this method of preservation!
I love these greens so much, in fact, that I decided to try growing them indoors all winter. I brought in some cuttings of the vines and they have thrived and rooted and even bloomed. One of my goals this week is to get them potted up into soil and hung in our windows. I figure I’ll harvest the leaves as needed and in the spring I’ll cut and root the vines again, creating the “slips” needed for planting the actual sweet potato roots. There’s been some die off of the leaves, but everywhere a leaf has dropped a young shoot emerges. At the very least, it’s a fun learning experience and a beautiful indoor plant that will feed us!
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Good heavens! Are they related to morning glories?
Are they related to morning glories?
By the way, thanks for the sample. I sautéed them the other night and they were extraordinarily delicious. There was something about the flavor that reminded me of a pumpkin with a candle inside. Maybe it was my imagination…
Commenting didn’t know they had such a beautiful bloom kind of like an ipomea. They look beautiful as house plants.
Great info — Had no idea about the uses of sweet potato vines though I have grown them many times. Always learning!
I’ve tried this in the past (eating sweet potato leaves) because yes – you are right, they’re abundant! I planted one sweet potato four years ago in the garden and I can’t seem to ever get them to stop coming back every year no matter how vigilant I am in harvesting sweet potatoes in the fall. Which reminds me…I need to do that this year. It’s been warm in Texas so they haven’t died back too much yet. What’s your favorite simple way to prepare the leaves? I remember thinking they were a bit, eh…soggy. I tend to leave a huge pile of the vines and leaves out for the deer to enjoy when it’s harvest time because I just couldn’t get into eating the leaves myself. Of course the deer leave the vines and just eat the tender leaves. I guess beggars can be choosers after all.