Sarah's weekly blog: Eat your weeds

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A salad is not just for eating when the weather is warm. It’s good for you and delicious to eat a bowl almost every day in the winter too. If you eat things raw, you get the maximum Vitamin C from your veg, as this vitamin denatures on heat above 40 degrees.

 Winter salad bowl

It’s now in the winter when we really want to make sure our vitamin levels are topped up to keep lurgies at bay, so you want Vitamin C all the way. The chlorophyll — which makes the leaves green — also breaks down on heating and that’s thought to be good for cleaning the liver — so at this time of year many of us would benefit from that too!

Violas and winter salad

 Anyway, eating a good salad should not feel like a hardship, but can be made into a delicious bowl by including a range of punchy tasting leaves, and it’s now that many are at their best, growing outside come rain, hail or snow. Just look at this picture of Mizuna (see below) taken last December when we had three inches of snow. It didn’t bat an eyelid and was happy growing outside in the garden right through until the spring.

Mizuna in the snow

I know this autumn has so far been very mild, but we’ve had at least a couple of frosts and yet I can honestly pick a good basket of ten or fifteen different hardy salad varieties without walking far. We have Mizuna, Rocket, ‘Serata’, our mustard mix (‘Red Dragon’, ‘Red Lace’ and ‘Green Fire’), watercress, French sorrel, coriander (NB surprisingly, this prefers growing when it’s cold, wet and dark, not hot and dry), flat-leaved parsley, Lettuce ‘Solix’, ‘Black Seeded Simpson’, Kale Frills of Hex’ and baby cavalo nero. I’ve just been outside to pick this lot and maybe most exciting of all is the one you get for free.

Winter salad harvest

Look out for the weed Bittercress – which has just popped up all over the veg beds here as our most persistent winter weed. Pull each rosette up by the roots and cut it off with scissors and then give it a good couple of washes. This tastes peppery and strong, just like the mustard and cress you’d put in your egg sandwich.

Bittercress

Thanks for reading!

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