How to cook malabar spinach?

Green Malabar Spinach Seeds – (Basella alba)

Green Malabar Spinach – Delicious Summertime Green

With big glossy bright-green, heart-shaped leaves, and tender light green stems, this heat-loving plant will climb 6-10′ in warm climates. While not a true spinach, it is remarkably spinach-like in flavor and is better suited to summer growing than spinach since it loves hot, humid weather. Malabar spinach produces loads of tender leafy greens from July through September or first frost.

Even though it’s not a true spinach it has a remarkably spinach-like in flavor with tastes of citrus and pepper. It holds up better in cooking as it doesn’t wilt as fast and retains its texture in soups and stir-fries. As with its reddish cousin the young leaves are the mildest and most tender and can be harvested almost continuously from the tops of the vines, along with the bright green shoots.

Thrives in warm weather and is tolerant of heat and humidity, unlike true spinach. Easy to grow and amazingly free of any pests and diseases. We like to plant it along a fence as a trellis, making it easier to harvest young leaves while strolling down one side then the other. Makes an excellent shade and wind barrier once established on a trellis or fence.

Other names include basella, ceylon spinach, climbing spinach, Surinam spinach, Indian spinach, slippery vegetable, Malabar nightshade, vine spinach, and vine vegetable.

Red Malabar spinach is the darker, red cousin.


Ideal for soups, salads and stir-fries. Young leaves and tips are used like spinach in cooking and salad. In Japanese restaurants breaded and fried leaves are often served as appetizers.

The tender, young leaves are excellent as fresh, raw greens for salads, wraps, sandwiches, smoothies, and toppings for burgers. Harvest the youngest leaves from the tops of the vines. Clip the shoots and add them to stir-fries, quiche, curries, and pasta.

Growing Tip

In Zone 6 and colder, start seeds inside 6 weeks before the last frost to get a jump on greens production. Zones 7 and warmer can generally direct sow the week of the last frost, depending on the night-time temperatures that week. Soaking the seeds overnight before planting helps break dormancy and speed germination.

It can lag a bit until the weather warms up but growth will skyrocket once it reaches 80°F outside.

Rich, fertile soil produces many more leaves that are milder as they mature. Keep the soil moisture consistent to prevent energy being diverted to flower and seed production.

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Malabar Spinach: Benefits and How to Grow & Eat It

I have to admit, I love my greens. But in the heat of summer, lettuce, kale, collards, and chard all turn bitter, bolt, or dry out. Spinach is the worst; it seems to hate the sun! I found a few varieties that do better, but still not great. Then I came across malabar spinach – a versatile and healthy option that grows well in the summer.

Malabar Spinach – What Is It?

Malabar spinach (Basella alba or Basella rubra) is not a true spinach, but rather a climbing vine in a class by itself. Other common names include Vine Spinach, Red Vine Spinach, Creeping Spinach, and Ceylon Spinach. Even though it’s not a true spinach, it has the same taste.

The variety Alba has white flowers and green vines, while the variety Rubra has pinkish flowers and purplish red vines. I haven’t noticed a difference in taste between the two.

The leaves and stem contain mucilage, so it can appear slimy when broken off the vine. This mucilage is a great source of soluble fiber, much like pectin in apples.

The vine will grow rapidly in the heat of summer all the way through fall. It will die out in the winter, but often the seeds (if left on the vine) will fall to the ground and sprout the following spring. I’ve had plants in the same pots with a trellis for a few years now and they keep reseeding year after year. You can also collect the seeds and plant them next spring if you wish.

Health Benefits of Malabar Spinach

Malabar spinach is high in Vitamin A (100 grams contains roughly 8,000 units), Vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It has a high amount of protein for a plant and is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

Another good reason to eat malabar spinach is that it has a good amount of antioxidants, particularly beta carotene and lutein, those naturally occurring chemicals that help keep your cells from aging. Rubra seems to be slightly higher in antioxidants, probably due to the purple color.

How to Grown Malabar Spinach

Unlike true spinach, which does better in the fall and spring, malabar spinach loves the heat of summer. I soak my seeds overnight to give them a head start.

Plant in well drained, rich soil in full sunlight. It prefers elevations of 1,500 ft or higher, but I grew it in Minnesota (728 ft) and it did fine. Be sure to water it well and keep it moist. In dry climates you may need to mist it occasionally as it prefers humidity. The pH of the soil should be slightly alkaline, or around 7-8. Provide a trellis or twine for it to climb on – a tomato cage works great. I made the mistake of letting mine get into the trees one year and it was really difficult to harvest! Keeping it contained is the best thing to do for ease of use.

There don’t seem to be many pests or diseases that invade malabar spinach, so minimal use of something like neem oil is probably not necessary.

Don’t forget to leave your seeds on the vine or collect the seeds at the end of summer. You’ll have a whole new crop waiting to be sown!

Cooking With Malabar Spinach

Malabar spinach can be used raw, in salads, or as a stand alone vegetable. You can also use it like spinach in soups and stews. Steamed malabar spinach is great and will yield more than conventional spinach due to its fleshy nature.

Buttery Malabar Spinach Recipe

My favorite way to use malabar spinach is like many other greens I’ve cooked. It’s steamed, then braised with acid added at the end.


  • 3-4 cups malabar spinach, washed
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or try coconut oil for a different flavor)
  • pinch of Himalayan pink salt (find extra fine grain Himalayan salt here)
  • freshly ground pepper (find organic black peppercorns here)
  • juice from one lime, to taste


Add a small amount of water to a deep pan and heat on medium. Add the malabar spinach leaves. Steam until leaves are wilted and tender. Drain off any remaining liquid. Melt the butter in the bottom of the pan with spinach and add salt and pepper. Toss to coat all of the leaves. Braise for just a few minutes with the liquid from the butter. When it’s done, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Squeeze the juice of a fresh lime over it and toss again. Serve warm.

Have you ever grown malabar spinach? Have you ever eaten it? If so, share your experience!


What Is Malabar Spinach: Tips For Growing And Using Malabar Spinach

Malabar spinach plant isn’t a true spinach, but its foliage does indeed resemble that green leafy vegetable. Also known as Ceylon spinach, climbing spinach, gui, acelga trapadora, bratana, libato, vine spinach and Malabar nightshade, Malabar spinach is a member of the Basellaceae family. Basella alba is a green leaf variety while the red leaf variety belongs to the B. rubra species, which has purplish stems. If not spinach proper, what then is Malabar spinach?

What is Malabar Spinach?

Malabar spinach plants grow in India and throughout the tropics, primarily in the moist lowlands. While the dark green leaves resemble those of spinach, this is a vine type of plant that thrives in hot temps, even exceeding 90 F. (32 C.) Cool temperatures cause Malabar spinach to creep. It is grown as an annual, but grows like a perennial in regions that are frost free.

Malabar Spinach Care

Malabar spinach will grow well in a variety of soil conditions but prefers a moist fertile soil with plenty of organic matter and a soil pH of between 6.5 and 6.8. Malabar spinach plants can be grown in part shade, which increases the leaf size, but it much prefers hot, humid and full sun exposures.

Malabar spinach also needs constant moisture to prevent the blossoming, which will turn the leaves bitter — ideally an area with a warm, rainy climate for optimal Malabar spinach care and growth.

The vine should be trellised and two plants are sufficient for most families through the summer and fall growing season. It can even be grown up the same trellis as peas, truly utilizing the garden space. Grown as an ornamental edible, the vines can be trained to climb over doorways. To prune Malabar spinach, simply cut the thick, fleshy leaves while retaining some stem.

How to Grow Malabar Spinach

Malabar spinach can be grown from either seeds or cuttings. If the stems are too tough to eat when pruning, simply put them back into the soil where they will re-root.

Scarify the seed with a file, sandpaper or even a knife to speed germination, which will take three weeks or longer at temperatures between 65-75 F. (18-24 C.). Direct sow Malabar spinach seeds in USDA zone 7 or warmer, two to three weeks after the last frost date.

If you live in a chillier zone, start the seeds indoors at about six weeks before the last frost. Wait to transplant until the soil has warmed and there is no chance of frost. Transplant the seedlings spaced about a foot apart.

Using Malabar Spinach

Once you have a good crop to harvest, using Malabar spinach is just like using regular spinach greens. Delicious cooked, Malabar spinach is not as slimy as some other greens. In India, it is cooked with spicy chilies, chopped onion and mustard oil. Found frequently in soups, stir-fries and curries, Malabar spinach holds up better than regular spinach and doesn’t wilt as rapidly.

Although when it is cooked it tastes much like spinach, Malabar spinach raw is a revelation of the juicy, crisp flavors of citrus and pepper. It is delicious mixed in with other greens in tossed salads.

However you use Malabar spinach, this discovery is a boon for those of us that love our greens but find the warm days of summer a bit too hot for their taste. Malabar spinach has its place in the kitchen garden, providing cool, crisp greens for the long, hot summer days.

Question 1 Name any five plant parts which are eaten as food?

Question 2 Name 2 plants roots which are eaten as food?

Question 3 Name 2 plants whose stems are used as food?

Question 4 Name 2 plants whose leaves are eaten as food?

Question 5 Name 2 plants whose flowers are eaten as food?

Question 6 Name 2 fruits which are used as food?

Question 7 What is sprouting?

Question 8 Name any two types of seeds which are used for making sprouts in our homes?

Question 9 Describe the process of making sprouts from moong?

Question 10 Define the word cereals?

Question 11 What are oilseeds?

  • NCERT Solutions Class 6 Science

Grains used for food are called food grains or cereals.

Plant parts as food

The various parts of plants which are used as food material by us are: Roots ,stems ,leaves ,flowers ,fruits ,seeds.

1 Plant roots as food

We eat the roots of some plants as food.

For example: carrot, radish, beetroot ,sweet potato, turnip.

2 Plant stem as food

Some plants store food in their stems (modified or underground).We eat the stems of such plants as food.

For example: onion ,potato, ginger, garlic ,turmeric.

3 Plant leaves as food

The leafy vegetables are the leaves of the plants.

For example: spinach, cabbage ,lettuce ,leaves of mustard plant.

4 Flowers as food

The flowers of some of the plants are eaten as food.

For example: flowers of banana plant ,pumpkin plant, sunflower, Jasmine.

5 Fruits as food

There are some plants which store food in their fruits.

We eat the fruits of such plants as food.

For example: apple, orange, mango, pears, banana, plum, grapes ,guava.

6 Seeds as food

Some of the plants store food in their seeds. We eat the seeds of these plants as food.

For eg: wheat, rice Maize, millet ,Peas ,pulses ,mustard ,groundnut ,soyabean.

Groundnut and mustard seeds are called oilseeds because they are used to extract edible oils which are used for cooking food.

Mustard plant have two edible parts

1) Leaves are used as leafy vegetable

2) Seeds of mustard plant are used to extract mustard oil.

The fruit of banana plant are used as food and the flowers of the banana plant are also used as food in the form of vegetables.


When the seeds begin to grow by developing tiny roots, they are called sprouts.

The sprouts contain more of Vitamin A, B ,C which makes them a more nutritious food.

The method of making sprouts from seeds is called sprouting.

The seeds of moong, chana,moth are usually converted into sprouts in our homes.

1) Some dry seeds of Moong/ moth /chana.

2) Put a small quantity of seeds in a container filled with water and leave this aside for a day.

3)Next day, drain the water completely and leave the seeds in the vessel.

4) Wrap them with a piece of cloth and set aside.

5) A white structure may have grown out of the seed. This is called sprout.

Food from Plants

Plants are very useful to us and we get most of our food from plants. Everybody needs food to stay alive. Food is one of our basic needs. It gives us energy to work. Most of our food comes from plants. Plants give us many things.

Food we get from plants:

Plants give us vegetables, fruits, cereals and pulses. Plants also give us coffee, tea, sugar, oil and spices. We get food from different parts of plants. We eat roots, leaves, stems, flowers and fruits of plants.


We get vegetables from plants. Some vegetables are available throughout the year. Some vegetables are available in one season only.

Some vegetables are beetroot, spinach, turnip and cauliflower.

We eat roots, leaves, stems and flowers of some plants as vegetables.


Beetroot, radish, carrot and turnip are some of the roots that we eat as vegetables.


Spinach, lettuce and cabbage are some of the leaves that we eat as vegetables.


Potato and ginger are some of the stems that we eat as vegetables.


Broccoli and cauliflower are some of the flowers that we eat as vegetables.


We get fruits from plants. Fruits are of many kinds. Some fruits are juicy and fleshy.

Some of the fruits that we eat are orange, mango, apple, grapes, etc.

Fruits keep us healthy and strong. We should eat plenty of fruits daily.
Growing children should eat plenty of seasonal fruits.


We get cereals from plants. Cereals are the grains that can be eaten. Rice, wheat, maize, barley and jowar are some of the cereals that we eat.

We make chapatti from the flour of wheat, maize and gram.


We get pulses from plants. Pluses are the seeds that can be eaten. Beans, kidney beans, grams, peas and urd are some of the pulses that we eat.

Pulses are very important for the growth of children. Children should eat plenty of pulse in their meals.

Coffee, Tea and Sugar:

Plants give us coffee and tea to drink. Coffee is made from the seeds of coffee plants. Tea is made from the leaves of tea plant.

We also get sugar from plants. Sugar is made from sugarcane.


We get oil from some plants. The seeds of some plants are used for making oil. Some of the plants that give us oils are castor, sunflower, mustard and coconut.

Oil is used for many purposes. It is used for cooking food. Some oil is also used as hair oils.

Dry Fruits:

Some plants give us dry fruits.

Some of the dry fruits are cashewnut, groundnut, walnut, almond etc.


Plants also give us spices.

Cinnamon, cardamom, clove, pepper, turmeric, ginger, cumin seeds and pepper are some of the plants that give us spices.

Plants are very useful in many ways. We get most of our food from plants.

Plants Around Us

How Plants Grow

Food from Plants

First Grade

From Food from Plants to HOME PAGE

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The Perennial Vegetables; Plant Once, Harvest Forever!

Question. I’m new to growing vegetables and trying to find information on which are perennial, but nothing tells me which ones come back. Obviously carrots, potatoes and corn do not, but should cukes, tomatoes, eggplant or peppers be left in the ground at the end of the season? Or will they just die off? I am, as they say, clueless. Thanks!

    —Stephanie in Voorhees, NJ

Answer. You haven’t been able to find that information because it’s assumed to be “common knowledge,” Steph. That means nobody knows it intrinsically, and so those who didn’t grow up with gardens have to be brave and ask. DON’T feel foolish; we get emails asking this same question every year.

Most of the plants you named are true annuals; they last one season and then die even if protected from frost. Carrots, however, are biennials; if you leave the roots in the ground, the tops will flower the following year and produce carrot seed for you—although the second-year carrots themselves will have turned bitter.

Potatoes often seem perennial. That’s because it’s easy to miss the odd spud at harvest time, and these buried treasures reliably survive winter to produce new ‘volunteer’ plants the following season. Cherry tomatoes are notorious for this; the seeds in their dropped fruit always sprout the following season. And peppers are truly perennial. Not outdoors in New Jersey, of course—you have to bring them inside and keep them under bright light for the winter. But in non-freezing areas in Southern Florida, California and Arizona peppers are perennial outdoors. I’ve seen 20-year old habanero trees in Santa Fe.

The best-known true perennial vegetable is asparagus. Plant the crowns in Spring, be patient the first few years, and you’ll harvest 6 to 8 weeks of good eatin’ every Spring thereafter. And gardeners who can perennialize their peppers outdoors can’t grow asparagus; it only thrives in areas with winter freezes. We’ll link up to a Previous Question of the Week on asparagus that provides lots of growing and harvesting info.

Another true perennial is Rhubarb. The only vegetable we eat as a fruit, it also goes into the ground in Spring and should only be harvested lightly—if at all—the first couple of seasons. Then you’ll harvest lots of ripe stalks every Spring. Remove every bit of the (poisonous) leaf and use the tasty—and safely edible—stalks to make rhubarb pie. This plant requires good drainage, likes a heavy feeding with compost or well-composted manure every Spring and Summer, and, like asparagus, only grows well in areas with winter freezes. Cut off any flowers that form after harvest, and divide the clumps every couple of years to keep production high.

Jerusalem artichokes are worse then perennial—the plants are invasive as all get-out! The knobby tubers—also called ‘sun chokes’—are generally cooked like potatoes, taste best after winter frost sweetens them up, and don’t get very tasty in warm climes. But many gardeners don’t care; they plant the tubers—in a well-contained area—just for the riot of chocolate-scented daisy/sunflower-like blooms that appear prolifically above ground. You plant the tubers in the Spring, the above-ground growth dies back every winter, and the plants re-grow from the buried tubers year after year, often becoming pestiferous. Oh, and they’re native to North America, not the Middle East. “Jerusalem” is likely a corruption of the Italian word for sunflower, and somebody apparently thought the tubers looked like artichokes. (They do not.)

READ COMPLETE ANSWER Egyptian onions are perennial members of the Allium family (onions, garlic, leeks, etc.) with a very strong flavor. The underground clump survives winter to produce shoots that can be used like scallions when young, leaf tips that make a good chive substitute, and a white, leek-like base that people use as the ‘onion’ part. You don’t eat the underground bulb. They grow anywhere; heavy watering in summer will tame the flavor a bit.

Potato, or ‘multiplier’ onions are a fun plant with a mild onion flavor and a solid history as an heirloom favorite in America, although planting stock can be hard to find. These members of the Allium family are planted in the Fall and produce lots of little green onions—just like the ‘sets’ used for regular onion planting—in the Spring. These become large, high-quality storage onions mid-summer. You harvest when the tops die down, just like regular onions; but much earlier in the season. Leave some little ones and big ones in the soil and the following year the little ones will produce big onions and the big ones will give birth to little ones. They grow from the top of the country to the bottom and from Sea to Shining Sea.

Good King Henry is a perennial green that tastes like asparagus in early Spring, spinach in late Spring, turns bitter for the summer, and then returns with another double dose of edibles every season. It thrives pretty much everywhere, as does sorrel, another leafy perennial. Water your sorrel well, and the leaves will retain their desired slightly sour lemony taste. Without water they get tough and bitter.

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