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Originally from Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean and Himalayas, farmers in India started growing mustard plants about 3,000 years BC. The ancient Greeks and Romans considered mustard seeds a miracle cure for almost anything, from scorpion stings to healing aches and pains, to curing toothaches. The Chinese experimented to cultivate mustard greens, classified as Brassica juncea, which are different from the mustard plants used to make the condiment.
Mustard plants belong to the cabbage family and are similar in taste and shape to kale with their frilly leaves. Best picked while still young, the large tender leaves of the mustard plant can be served raw in salads, steamed as a side dish, or mixed with soups or omelettes. Mustard greens blend well with cumin, cilantro, dill and garlic to make creamy sauces for lamb or pork, and are served pickled or stir-fried in Asian cuisine. Mature mustard greens can get rather peppery, and if left too long before harvesting, can become too bitter to eat.
Mustard greens are remarkable for containing some of the highest level of nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, iron calcium, potassium, iron, selenium, protein, phosphorus, copper, manganese and magnesium. An antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, these potent greens are known to clear sinuses, relieve asthma, stimulate hair growth, boost the immune system, balance cholesterol, reduce gastrointestinal cancer and treat eczema. Since mustard plants contain strong antimicrobial properties, they make an excellent organic addition to your garden to repel insects.
Mustard plants prefer colder temperatures, so plant your St. Clare Heirloom mustard seeds about three weeks before the last frost, or in the fall, around 4 to 6 weeks before the first expected frost.
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