Green Okame Spinach
Inventory, 3 lbs : 0
Green Okame spinach forms in low-growing rosettes of upright leaves averaging 25 to 30 centimeters in length. The elongated leaves have a uniform, multi-lobed, arrow-like shape tapering to a distinct point, and each leaf has 2 to 3 lobes at maturity with generally smooth, sometimes serrated edges. The dark green leaves are also large, wide, and flat, showcasing prominent veining, and have a thick, chewy, succulent, and crisp consistency. The stems are slender, straight, firm, and pale green with a crunchy texture. Occasionally, there may be faint red hues at the base of the stems with red-tined roots. The leaves and stems will vary in tenderness, depending on the maturity and climate they are grown in. Green Okame spinach has a mild, vegetal, and earthy flavor. Look for greens that are pliable, fresh, and not wilted. When cooked, the greens become soft and tender with subtly sweet, nutty nuances.
Green Okame spinach is available in the late spring through summer.
Green Okame spinach, botanically classified as Spinacia oleracea, is a Japanese variety belonging to the Amaranthaceae family. The hybrid spinach was developed by a seed company in Japan as an improved variety, combining the desired characteristics from the parent cultivars into a new spinach for commercial and home production. Green Okame spinach is an early-maturing variety with a hardy, fast-growing nature. The cultivar was selectively bred to produce multiple harvests of green leaves throughout the spring and summer and is favored for its mild flavor and thicker leaf texture. Since its release in the 20th century, there have been two types of Okame spinach created: Green Okame and Red Okame spinach. Green Okame spinach was also introduced to the United States, where the variety is sometimes generally labeled as Arrowhead spinach, Oriental spinach, and Asian-Leaf spinach. The pointed greens are thicker than other spinach cultivars and are favored for their tolerance to hot and cold temperatures and slow-bolting nature. Green Okame spinach can be harvested as baby greens or gathered at maturity, and the leaves are versatile, utilized in raw or cooked preparations.
Green Okame spinach is a source of beta-carotene, a natural compound within the leaves that is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A helps to maintain optimal organ functioning and protects overall eye health to prevent vision loss. Green Okame spinach also provides vitamin C to strengthen the immune system while reducing inflammation, fiber to regulate the digestive tract, calcium to build strong bones and teeth, vitamin K to assist in faster wound healing, and other nutrients, including copper, zinc, iron, folate, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. It is important to note that most spinach varieties contain oxalates, naturally occurring compounds that can bind to specific nutrients to prevent their absorption in the body. Oxalates can be lowered by cooking spinach, and it is recommended to at least blanch the greens to reduce these compounds and receive the most nutritional intake. Spinach, in general, is valued for containing anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants to protect the cells against the damage caused by free radicals.
Green Okame spinach has a mild, earthy, and vegetal taste suited for fresh and cooked preparations. The greens should be washed before use and used as a spinach substitute in recipes calling for baby or common spinach. Green Okame spinach can be tossed into salads, a favorite preparation to highlight their pointed, unique leaf shape, or they can be used as a bed of greens for seafood and meats, added to spring rolls, mixed into grain bowls, or layered into sandwiches, wraps, and burgers. The spinach greens can also be blended into smoothies or added to fresh juices. In addition to raw preparations, Green Okame spinach is sturdy, allowing it to be lightly cooked. The greens can be wilted and stirred into dips and spread, mixed into pasta, utilized as a pizza topping, or tossed into soups and curries. Green Okame spinach can also be blanched or steamed into vegetable dishes, cooked into egg-based dishes including omelets, quiche, and frittatas, or chopped and stuffed with herbs, spices, and other aromatics into meat. In Japan, Green Okame spinach is sometimes used in gomae, also spelled goma-ae, a spinach salad. Gomae is comprised of blanched spinach tossed in a sauce of sesame seeds, sugar, water, soy sauce, and dashi powder. Green Okame spinach is also famously used to make ohitashi, a boiled dish served in a dashi-based sauce. The word ohitashi is derived from hitashimono, translating from Japanese to mean “to immerse” or “to dunk,” a descriptor for the practice of serving the cooked spinach in a soy-sauce broth. Ohitashi dates to the Nara period and has appeared in written records throughout the Sengoku, Edo, and Meiji periods. Spinach ohitashi is customarily topped with dried bonito flakes, also known as katsuobushi, and is served with steamed rice, soups, and tofu. Green Okame spinach pairs well with aromatics such as garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chives, and chile peppers, seasonings including soy sauce, sesame, mirin, and oyster, and herbs such as thyme, basil, cilantro, mint, and dill. Whole, unwashed Green Okame spinach will keep for 2 to 3 days when stored in a sealed bag between layers of paper towels. The leaves can also be blanched or wilted and frozen for six months.
Takii Seed is a global seed company that began as a family-owned and operated store in Kyoto, Japan. Mr. Jisaburo Takii established his seed store in 1835 and initially sold local vegetables found in Kyoto. At the time, Kyoto was the capital of Japan, and it was customary for growers throughout the country to send prized vegetables as gifts to the Imperial family. As new vegetable varieties were carried from across the land and presented in Kyoto, Mr. Takii built a network of growers to acquire seeds and develop new varieties. Kyoto quickly became an area renowned for seed production due to its access to a wide array of seeds, and the Takii family worked as a team to expand their brand. After World War I in 1920, Takii Seeds expanded beyond Japan's borders and developed relationships worldwide, becoming one of the top seed companies globally. The company officially created its International Division in 1926, leading to local subsidiaries in the United States, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Europe, India, Turkey, Hungary, Spain, Vietnam, China, and Korea. Takii Seeds is named after the Takii family and the current President and CEO, Mr. Denichi Takii, is the 5th generation of the Takii family to lead the company. Takii Seed is also known for its symbolic logo. The Takii Seed logo consists of three circles, one in red, one in yellow, and one in blue. Similar to the Japanese flag, red represents the sun and masculine power. Yellow balances this masculine energy by standing for feminine energy, representative of Mother Earth, and blue is a symbol of water and its life-giving nature. The three circles are a cyclical, infinite symbol for the foundation of seed breeding, which needs the sun, earth, and water to produce new life. Blue, red, and yellow are also the primary colors, meaning they can develop any desired colored shade, symbolic of Takii Seed being able to create any seed based on its core foundations.
Green Okame spinach is native to Japan and was developed as a warm-season variety by the Takii Seed company in the city of Kyoto. Much of the history of the variety is unknown, but the hybrid variety was intentionally created as an improved spinach cultivar to demonstrate increased resistance to bolting, diseases, and weather. Green Okame spinach thrives in warmer climates where there is no chance of frost and is mainly sold through Takii Seed's catalogs in Japan and the United States. Today Green Okame spinach is grown in spinach-production regions in Japan, specifically Saitama, Chiba, and Gunma Prefectures. In seed form, the variety is sold for commercial and home gardens in the United States and Japan.