Malabar Red Stem
Basella alba ‘Rubra’
- Warm season annual/perennial
- 18,000 seed count per pound.
- Maturity: Approx. 60 days
- Planting season: Late spring/early summer
Prepare fertile, well-drained soil. Avoid clay soils. Sow seeds in late spring/early summer (soil temp at least 60°F) in a warm and sunny location or start seeds inside 6 weeks before last frost date (or 8 weeks before expected transplanting date). Keep soil warm until emergence. Seeds will not germinate in cool soil and planting out too early may affect plant vigor. Harden off plants carefully before transplanting. Partial shade may increase leaf size. Consistent moisture helps to keep plant from flowering (which can cause bitterness). Fertilize as needed. Train to a sturdy trellis. Harvest by cutting 6-8" young tips and leaves. New growth can be cut throughout the season.
Malabar spinach has a mucilaginous texture and is mostly used to thicken soups/stews. Use in any recipe that calls for spinach, with noodles and in stir-fries. In Japan, it is cooked in tempura, ohitashi or braised and topped with a sesame dressing.