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Agretti: Meet Your New Favorite Vegetable

Cecilia Estreich Jun 29 , 2016

Guys, we need to talk about this Agretti from Lancaster Farm Fresh.  Why aren’t you using it? If you’ve never tried it, read our cheat sheet to get familiar and then place an order!  We’re pretty sure that you’ll fall in love.

What is it?

Agretti is a salty heirloom green that originated in the Mediterranean Basin.  Although it is often compared to its relative, samphire (AKA sea beans), its flavor is earthier in a way that some people describe as closer to spinach.  Its name means “little sour one” in Italian and it can have a pleasantly tart flavor when it is harvested early in the season. The plant’s needle-shaped leaves have a succulent texture similar to purslane.

Where does it grow?

While it is most commonly associated with peasant cuisines in Umbria and Lazio in Central Italy, the green also grows in Japan where it is called Oka Hijiki or “land seaweed”.   In 2015, there was a major interruption in cultivation across Europe when seed stocks were wiped out by floods in Italy.

Can I get a little historical background?

Agretti served as a source of soda ash, which plays a key role in glassmaking, for centuries.  After a synthetic solution was developed in the 1800’s, the plant was demoted to peasant-food status.

How do I use it?

Agretti only lasts a short while once it’s taken out of the ground, so it’s important to use it within a few days of ordering. Wash them well because their fine, dense leaves often trap dirt and grit.  It’s traditionally blanched and served with lemon and olive oil in Italy. 

Seasonality and availability?

In Italy, Agretti is associated with the spring and is in season for only short time.  Lancaster, however, plans to have it until August.  Because of the aforementioned shelf life, we’re only keeping small quantities in stock to ensure that it stays fresh. 

Still not convinced that Agretti is for you?  Check out what our friends at Babbo have to say about it here

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