Wanna look better? Try this 'wow' veggie
- Dulce Arguelles-Sanchez () - October 2, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - What’s slimy and tasteless but will help improve your looks when you swallow enough of it? No, it’s not what you think.

At least three servings a week of saluyot (Corchurus olitorious L.) or jute leaves would be a good start for those planning to consume this “wow vegetable” regularly, said Josephine Garcia, who heads the horticulture section at the Bureau of Plant Industry. She said after promoting malunggay, the BPI is trying to popularize saluyot.

“It is high in fiber, which can sweep toxins from the body. It is high in antioxidants (vitamins) A, C, and E,” according to Garcia, who said these nutrients contribute to younger, better-looking skin and help stave off diseases associated with ageing.

She said the mucilage of saluyot  which turns off many people  is actually an indication that it is high in antioxidants. If the saluyot leaves become slimy, it also means they’re overcooked, she added.

Garcia said the leaves should be cooked in very little water or simply put in last in a dish after the stove is turned off.

She said while boiled jute leaves can be dipped in calamansi and soy sauce, they are often used in dinengdeng and bulanglang, both vegetable stews. The horticulture expert prefers to include jute leaves in pinakbet.

“I learned to love it,” Garcia said, adding that it was just a matter of willing yourself to swallow the leaves to overcome their rough texture.

Roots and all

Most persons encounter saluyot leaves when they go to the wet market or supermarket, and the leaves  actually whole plants, complete with roots  are usually tied in a bunch.

“This shows how to harvest saluyot properly,” Garcia said. With the roots, the leaves will last for three days, she added.

Those who want to grow their own saluyot plants can get the seeds from the BPI for free, but they have to have their names put on a waiting list.

She said local government units and homeowners’ associations can put up a nursery for saluyot plants and other indigenous vegetables and provide plants homeowners can grow themselves.

“We are promoting containerized gardening,” Garcia said.

She said if a homeowner has containers that are just lying around, he or she can fill the container with equal parts soil, compost and sawdust, then “sow, not bury” the saluyot seeds, about five to six per container.

Out of 10 saluyot seeds, around six will germinate, according to Garcia.

Place the container on the window sill or a part of the garden where the seeds can receive the most sunlight, she said, and water them twice a day just enough to moisten the soil.

After 30 days, homeowner can pull out the “lanky” plants, leaving about three to a container, spaced around 10 to 13 centimeters apart. “The ones you pulled out are ready for cooking,” she said.

After another 30 to 40 days, a homeowner can prune the leaves, and again put compost. “You could do this for four harvestings,” Garcia said.

Pest-pinching

Since the BPI practices organic farming, Garcia said a homeowner can get rid of pests plaguing saluyot plants through the “kurot” system, which just means plucking the pest off the plant and killing it with a pinch.

For larger areas planted to saluyot, she recommends putting up “yellow traps” on the edges of the plot. To make such a trap, get a yellow cartolina or cardboard, attach it to a stick, cover it with a plastic sheet then paint the sheet with used cooking oil.

“Male insects are attracted to anything that is yellow,” Garcia said.

Another alternative is to plant herbs and spices that are natural insect repellents, such as basil and lemongrass, she added.

BUREAU OF PLANT INDUSTRY CONTAINER CORCHURUS GARCIA HOMEOWNER JOSEPHINE GARCIA LEAVES PLANTS SALUYOT
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