Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

There's a lot of info about Chaya on YouTube  (LINK) --if you are keen on the research.

I'm still waiting for my cutting -- so I amuse myself with possibilities.

Of the YouTube fair -- I thought this one was very useful as it explores Chaya primarily as  tree -- even as a bee and butterfly attracting shade tree.

Grown from cuttings. How easy is that!

Chaya out-performs most other green leafy vegetables nutritionally.

I see Chaya as a companion kitchen green to Katuk and Okinawan Spinach.


The leaves are prepared much like spinach. Chaya must be cooked, however, because of the presence of cyanogenic glucosides. A recent study in Guatemala (Molin a Cruz, et al. 1999) of different ways of cooking chaya* found that boiling in water for 10-15 minutes removes toxins to below harmful levels. Boiling with salt added to the water resulted in less loss of Vitamin C from the leaves. The stock or liquid the leaves are cooked in can also safely be consumed as HCN (Hydrogen cyanide), the principal toxin leached from the plant, is volatilized during cooking. The Guatemalans also found that the HCN toxins were removed by pressure and steam cooking, as well as frying (no less than 5 minutes) and microwaving for 10 minutes at 550 watts in a small amount of water.This last method resulted in the least loss of Vitamin C compared with all other methods. (LINK)

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Read the discussion link Dave, it was very interesting reading, do you microwave your leaves.  That recipe with ginger and garlic sounds tasty.  The need to vaporise with cooking is not a hassle as we boil most of our brassica  veggies anyway.  Thanks for sharing.

My Chaya plants are now harvestable, so I'm eating the leaves more often.

Despite the rider than you need to cook them for 20 minutes before eating, they are -- among the 'spinaches' -- one of the tastiest greens I've eaten.

Given that this is a tree that grows to 6 metres --  but is usually kept trimmed to 2 metres -- in height, you'd be able to keep a lot of Popeyes happy.

Mine are still small (picture at right), but I'm looking forward to growth. Maybe not as big as the image at left, below.

...but big enough to feed me ++++...and whoever.

I do eat a lot of greens. Not the salading kind but plenty of Okinawan spinach, Warrigal Greens, and Katuk.

I'd rule that Chaya tastes the best. Yes, even better than my beloved Okinawan Sp -- Gynura crepioides -- despite the extra prep time required.

And it's a big leaf you get to pick and I've not found any taste or texture difference between young and old leaves after prep.

I planted my first chaya in the chook pen and it has taken over a year to consolidate. Now with a couple of cuttings under way, I'm more regularly supplied. Indeed, come to think of it, I should move the first planting  so I can more easily get to it.

Growing tree spinach is cold sensitive, so it should be started at the onset of the warm season. Chaya spinach tree is propagated via woody stem cuttings that are 6-12 inches long in well draining soil. It takes some time for the chaya to establish but after the first year, the plants may be pruned and harvesting commenced. Sixty percent or more of the foliage may be removed with no damage to the plant, and in fact, will promote bushier, healthy new growth. For the home gardener, one plant is sufficient to provide plenty of chaya. Spinach tree care for the home gardener is fairly simple. Chaya spinach is an understory species in forests and as such is ideal grown in shade under fruit trees or palms. Water the chaya canes thoroughly before transplanting. Read more: How To Use Chaya Plants In The Garden

If you are wondering what to do with Chaya in the kitchen here's an eclectic collection of options: Chaya Recipes for the Whole Family.


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