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Red Malabar Spinach
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The vines of Red Malabar spinach are a deep red merlot color and have a sturdy, thick texture. They sprout contrasting, deep-green glossy leaves that are interspersed with clusters of tiny round berries. The heart-shaped leaves have pink veins running through them and a chewy wax-like texture. Red Malabar spinach has a familiar spinach-like flavor with undertones of pepper and citrus.
Malabar Red spinach can be found growing year-round in tropical climates.
Red Malabar spinach, botanically known as Basella rubra, is not a true spinach but rather a climbing vine native to India. Red Malabar spinach is classified as a tropical perennial and because of its beautiful red stems and bright green leaves is commonly grown as an ornamental plant. Red Malabar spinach leaves can be chewed to help sooth and heal mouth ulcers and the entire plant can be prepared and utilized for multiple homeopathic remedies.
Featuring succulent leaves, Red Malabar spinach hosts fairly good amounts of mucilage, which aids in digestion and lowers the absorption of cholesterol. High in the antioxident carotenoid pigments: ß-carotene, lutein and zea-xanthin, Red Malabar spinach helps protect against free radicals.
Red Malabar spinach has a flavor very reminiscent to standard spinach. Young leaves can be used raw in salads and compliment most flavors it is paired with. Older leaves take on a thicker and more succulent texture, usually lending itself to a cooked application like sauteed or added to soups and stews. The berries featured on the Red Malabar spinach can be eaten, although the deep red staining color usually deters consumption, it lends itself to being used as a natural food dye.
Believed to have originated from India or Indonesia, today Red Malabar spinach is cultivated in South east Asia and tropical Africa.