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Vichil

Oct 14, 2011, 5:01 PM

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Hierba Mora

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We had some hierba mora yesterday , it was delicious. Is it widely available in Mexico or is it a Chiapas specialty?
I read some pretty scary stuff about it but then I also found it was widely eaten in Africa, India and some other part of Asia.
Another plant with bledo we had never eaten before.



mazbook1


Oct 14, 2011, 6:38 PM

Post #2 of 11 (5659 views)

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Re: [Vichil] Hierba Mora

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You may have eaten it without effect, but here is what the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) has to say about the primary alkaloid Solanine contained in the plant and its berries:

7.2 Toxicity 7.2.1 Human data 7.2.1.1 Adults Solanine is extremely toxic and small amounts may be fatal. The toxic dose in man in 2.8 mg/kg. 7.2.1.2 Children Solanine is extremely toxic and small amounts may be fatal.Here is a tip: In the U.S. this plant is called Nightshade or Deadly Nightshade. I don't think I will be trying it soon.

Bledo is something much different. All the wild plants (mostly considered roadside weeds) called bledo in México are members of the Amaranthus family that also includes the high-protein psuedo-cereal amaranth – amaranto. The most common Mexican name for all 200 varieties is quelite, although that word is also used for many other wild plants that have edible leaves. The leaves, especially the young leaves, of all the different bledos are edible and resemble more or less closely, depending on variety, spinach (another member of the amaranth family). The different varieties range in mature size from just 30 centimeters (about 1 foot) tall to as much as 3 meters (about 10 feet) tall. I have one of those extra-tall quelites growing in my back yard in Mazatlán, and the young leaves, earlier this year, made an excellent green vegetable when cooked, with a flavor and odor identical to regular spinach. Now that the plant has gone to seed, it is the neighborhood restaurante for all the small birds in my neighborhood. The long, thin seed branches will support a small bird easily, and they are slowly completely stripping the plant of its seeds as they dry. Although the seeds are not as prolific as the variety grown commercially for amaranth seeds, where the seed branches are so heavy with seed they droop to the ground, I expect this really huge quelite to keep the local birds fed well into December.


Vichil

Oct 14, 2011, 7:53 PM

Post #3 of 11 (5645 views)

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Re: [mazbook1] Hierba Mora

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I read the same report as you have, which did not make sense since it is a vegetable that is widely eaten here without effect. We ate it again today and before eating I went to ask my neighbor if she had hear the plant was toxic. She said that everyone down here eats it without getting sick.
I think I received the answer from a friend who has biologist friends . I received a link to a report on the plant. Some species of this plant is widely eaten in Africa, India Malaysia, China and many other countries. Apparently they are many different varieties of this plant some dangerous and some not.
I feel much better now than I have read this article as it did not make any sense that people were eating it without any effect here. Not only is it not dangerous but has some protective qualities against cancer.
We went from thinking we were poisonning ourselves to finding a plant from Lourdes!

check
http://www.underutilized-species.org/...lack_nightshades.pdf


Rolly corrected a broken link.


(This post was edited by Rolly on Oct 14, 2011, 8:12 PM)


mazbook1


Oct 14, 2011, 8:18 PM

Post #4 of 11 (5635 views)

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Re: [Vichil] Hierba Mora

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I have a hunch that what you were getting called hierba mora was actually a plant called Prunella vulgaris L. In Spanish, hierba mora is also used for this plant, rather than the more common usage referring to the Nightshade plant. Here is what the Wikipedia says about it: Prunella vulgaris, known as common selfheal, heal-all, heart-of-the-earth, is a medicinal plant in the genus Prunella. For the full article (interesting), Google "Prunella vulgaris L." and go to the Wikipedia entry for that plant.


Vichil

Oct 14, 2011, 8:38 PM

Post #5 of 11 (5630 views)

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Re: [mazbook1] Hierba Mora

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No it is solanum nigrum, I had a nursery guy id it and it is exactly like the pictures shown in the article my friend sent me.
The solanum nigrum is cultivated not wild according to the merchant- The dangerous one grows wild.
It has little white flowers with some yellow.

The bledo sold here is also called amarento and it does not look like the small spinach leaves which are also sold down here. It has an oval thin l leaf with smooth edges more like afeel of a clover leaf which looks nothing like what they call quelites here which look like long stem spinach with almost curly leaves..


(This post was edited by Vichil on Oct 14, 2011, 8:41 PM)


mazbook1


Oct 14, 2011, 9:15 PM

Post #6 of 11 (5628 views)

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Re: [Vichil] Hierba Mora

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I'll take your nursery guy's word for it, but it would still scare me to eat it, cultivated or not. The cultivated type may be a slightly different variety than the wild, one that has had the poison bred out of it over the years (centuries?). I didn't see any reference to a cultivated variety in my searches, though.

There are so many different varieties of amaranto that grow in México (over 200), both wild and cultivated, with all sorts of leaf sizes and shapes, none of which actually LOOK like spinach and many that don't even resemble each other, that I'm certain that your bledo is one of them. I saw many, many pictures of different ones when researching the situation I got myself into below.

One Mexican's quelite is another's bledo is yet another's maleza – weed. When my wife, a city gal from Los Mochis first saw what became the giant one that practically took over our back yard, she immediately dismissed it as, "Es un bledo, un maleza." Fortunately, I had first asked our maid, a campesino gal from the rancho, and she took one look at it and immediately told me it was a quelite and the leaves were good to eat, so I was able to dissuade my wife when she wanted to chop it out, and she was able to enjoy the cooked result right along with the rest of us many times. The leaves don't look anything like spinach, nor do they smell or taste like spinach until steamed or braised. Then they both taste and smell like ordinary spinach, even look darn similar to steamed or braised spinach leaves. I'm going to save a few of the dried seeds before the birds eat them all, and next year plant them on purpose. In the front garden, though, as I don't think my wife will put up with having our back yard filled up with weeds for a second summer!


(This post was edited by mazbook1 on Oct 14, 2011, 9:20 PM)


Vichil

Oct 15, 2011, 7:21 AM

Post #7 of 11 (5607 views)

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Re: [mazbook1] Hierba Mora

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Seeing what I saw in the Internet scared me but knowing it is widely sold here and eaten made me think I was missing something.
The link that my researcher friends from the University of Florida sent me is very clear that it is an underutilized crop and that is widely eaten worldwide. I can see why.It is very good and according to the article has many nitrient and medecinal pluses.

We ate a batch yesterday and we are ok so I am not going to worry about it.

The indigenous here eat a huge amount of weeds or what we consider weeds some with Spanish names and some without. I try to check them out to see what these things are but it is sometimes difficult to do so.
They sell the leaves of the beets and the navos separately and for more money in the case of the navos than the navos that are fed to the pigs.
I love the market here as you can find all kinds of treasures things we throw away are eaten and very good.
My mother told me of a veggie that she uses to eat as a girl and that is not grown commercialy any more and tasted like a spinach, it has tiny leaves as well that look like spinach leaves it probably what they call quelite here as well. It is the "in" thing in France to rediscover all the veggies that have fallen out of favor and I think it is fun to experiement and open up our horizons when it comes to food.
I cooked the hierba mora the tradtional way cooked the greens, chopped them up and them added them to oniond, garlic chilis and tomatoes but I added raisins and broken up cashew nuts and it was delicious.
We make dandelion salads in Ajijic from the dandelions from the lfarden and the gardener thinks I am nuts while I used to go and pick them as a little girl for my grandmother. Here they eat those too but the leaves are way larger.

The mushrooms still scare me, that is the only thing I am scared of. I used to know a painter who knews them well and checked them out but he passed away from a heart attack so now I am back at not eating wild mushrooms that are sold at the market. Every year there are death related to mushrooms and although I love them after I tasted a of them with the help of the painter I stay away.

The bledo sold here looks like the peanut plant that decided to take over the garden in Ajijic, I guess peanuts must have been planted in the garden a while ago as I have them all over the place.


mazbook1


Oct 15, 2011, 1:15 PM

Post #8 of 11 (5579 views)

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Re: [Vichil] Hierba Mora

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Funny you should mention France, in my investigations re bledo and quelite I discovered that in Spain, the quelite that is specifically a member of the amaranth family is popular and called "spinach of the forest" – "espinaca de la selva".


Vichil

Oct 16, 2011, 7:18 PM

Post #9 of 11 (5547 views)

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Re: [mazbook1] Hierba Mora

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This morning at the market as I bought some other greens I asked them for the names of the greens I would call quelites and that my mother told me about, they told me it was espinacas. Nothing ike spinach from Ajijic that s for sure or from France.

By the way at a different time of year we have been buying what we tought were yellow and red tiny cherry tomatoes, I asked about them and it turned out they are the fruit of the hierba mora.So they are widely sold and esaten here too.


mazbook1


Oct 16, 2011, 9:18 PM

Post #10 of 11 (5539 views)

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Re: [Vichil] Hierba Mora

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If the fruit of the hierba mora that you bought wasn't black, that variety isn't the same as the nightshade I know as poisonous to animals and people from being a child on a Kansas farm. That one has berries that are always black. The link you provided, alludes to this, since they speak a lot about the yellow and red berries, and that seems to be a different variety or subspecies.


(This post was edited by mazbook1 on Oct 16, 2011, 9:45 PM)


Vichil

Oct 17, 2011, 7:01 AM

Post #11 of 11 (5525 views)

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Re: [mazbook1] Hierba Mora

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You are correct, the variety they have here is cultivated not wild. The problem with that crop is that the leaves will not hold for transportation and the insects love it so they have a lot of tiny holes, they are nonetheless delicious. I would not experiement with the wild ones it sounds way too scary.
 
 
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