One of the few edible plants that will stay green (or purple, depending on the variety) and growing all winter, mustard greens are a go-to crop for my cool-season garden. I love to pick the slightly spicy leaves and use them sautéed with rice or pasta or as a side all to themselves. They’re great fresh, too, but because they’re so pungent, I use the fresh greens in moderation—maybe a leaf on a sandwich (skip the extra mustard, the flavor is already in the greens) or some torn leaves mixed with spinach or lettuces in a salad.
As soon as temperatures start rising and spring comes, though, mustard greens, like most plants, put their energy into producing the next generation and start to flower. In the veggie world, this is called bolting. As the plant starts to send up a flower stalk, you’ll notice that the leaves begin to lose their fullness and flavor and begin to get spindly and bitter. At this point, many gardeners sacrifice the greens and leave the plants to flower in the garden. The delicate yellow blooms really are lovely.
But this year, I was in the midst of moving my garden from one spot to another when the mustard plants began to flower, so I decided to harvest all the greens I could and find a way to preserve them. This recipe for pickled mustard greens sounded yummy and easy enough, so I gave it a try, putting my own spin on it, too. (I mean, every recipe needs garlic, right?)
After waiting the obligatory number of days, we tried the pickled mustard greens with Szechuan beef and rice, and they were terrific. As much as I love to preserve food from my garden, I’m honestly not a huge lover of pickled things, but this recipe gives the greens a mild, sweet-and-spicy flavor that is totally palatable even for the pickle averse. I have a feeling we’ll be eating these pickled mustard greens once a week or so through the spring until the quart jar is empty.
If you’ve never tried growing greens, or if you’re just rusty, check out this info on How to Grow Greens.