Giant Red Mustard is a mainstay in our garden. The scientific name of this plant is Brassica Juncea; it is related to cabbage, turnip, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, collards and brussels sprouts. We bought a packet of seeds some years ago and haven’t had to buy seeds since. Hardy and prolific, it reseeds and comes back by itself every year. It more than earns its keep since we eat it from early summer until way into fall.
It is a beautiful plant with its leaves of burgundy red and green, and could be right at home in a flower garden. Ours has taken to the edges of rows in the veggie garden. Where it seeds thickly, we thin it. The extra ones pluck out easily and are eaten or added to the compost pile.
We harvest by picking a leaf or two from each plant. The plant will grow new leaves. This is not a plant for winter storage- enjoy it fresh instead throughout the growing season. To keep the plants productive we pluck the tops off before the seeds set, allowing a few to go to seed.
Giant red mustard, true to its name has a wonderful mustardy flavor if eaten raw. Add it to green salads, potato and pasta salads. Tuck it into sandwiches and use it with hot dogs and hamburgers in place of jarred mustard. If you like, harvest the ripened seeds and grind them to make ground mustard. The leaves can be steamed or stir fried. Cooked, they are valuable as a green (vitamin C, and anti-cancer properties), although much of the mustardy flavor is lost.
Enjoy it’s raw flavor in the Red Mustard Salad with Tuna or Eggs and Ginger Aioli Dressing. -G.H.