Sea Kale/Strandkaal/ Crambe maritima
Sea Kale by the beach, Jernhatten, Djursland
The salt-air tolerant Sea Kale/ Strandkaal grows wild along the coasts of Europe from the North Atlantic to the Black Sea. In old garden books the use of sea kale is often described. The young pale shots were popular in dishes in the early spring, often mixed with the winter leftovers of curly kale. The plant contains lots of C-vitamins and was also used as a means against scurvy.
In England sea kale was a common plant until a botanizer in 1799 mentioned its good qualities. Then it was used so much for food that it became almost extinct. The stems taste a little like asparagus, but also the leaves are good with a taste a little milder than curly kale. The young flower shots taste like broccoli. The plant was earlier cultivated in gardens by manors and eaten as an early asparagus. In Denmark it was called 'Herrremandens asparges'. (Herremand = Lord of the Manor).
By the early 18th century sea kale had become established as a garden vegetable and it was very popular in the early 19th century where it was served at the Prince Regent's Royal Pavillion in Brighton. The shoots are fine served like asparagus, steamed with either bechamel sauce or melted butter , salt and pepper.
photo 310508: grethe bachmann, Glatved Strand, Djursland