When you grow your own food, you have the opportunity to try some interesting vegetable and fruit varieties that you would never find in a grocery store. See 10 unusual foods that will liven up your garden—and your taste buds!
Cardoons are grown for their edible stems, which look like super-sized celery and taste great served up in a gratin. Cardoon is a big plant that needs lots of space, sun, and a free-draining soil.
2. Shiso Perilla
Shiso perilla is commonly used in tempuras and sushi and tastes like a mix of herbs and spices. Green-leaved perilla is the most flavorsome, but there are stunning red-leaved varieties too.
Oca leaves can be eaten in moderation, but oca is primarily grown for its vitamin C-rich tubers. Oca tubers can be eaten raw or cooked liked potatoes. Plant oca in spring for a fall harvest.
Celeriac is a nutty-tasting hardy winter root. It can be mashed like potato, grated raw, boiled, braised, or cut it into cubes and added to soups and stews.
5. Malabar Spinach
Malabar spinach is a perennial Asian vine with red stems and fleshy leaves that are perfect in salads and stir-fries. Malabar spinach is grown as an annual in regions prone to frost. It loves rich, fertile soil and a sunny position.
Kohlrabi has an almost alien appearance with ‘bulbs’ are actually swollen stems. Kohlrabi is used in similar ways to turnip and tastes like tender broccoli. They are best grown from the second half of summer, and harvested before they reach tennis ball size. Try baking slices into healthy fries.
Seakale is a perennial plant that is is forced into growth in winter and early spring using special forcing pots for a very early harvest. The tender, pale stems are cooked just like asparagus. Seakale prefers free-draining soils.
Amaranth seeds are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The variety ‘Red Callaloo’ is grown for its versatile and nutritious leaves. Amaranth isn’t fussy about soil type, but it likes a warm, sunny spot.
9. Winter Radish
Just as easy to grow as their summer radishes, winter radishes include the mild-flavored daikon often used in Asian cuisines, the dramatic ‘Black Spanish’ radish, and the vibrant watermelon radish.
10. Salsify & Scorzonera
Salsify and scorzonera are very similar plants. Both grow well in light, well-drained soil and a sunny spot. The roots are very hardy and have a delicate, sweet flavor – some say that it’s like oysters! Harvest roots as required from fall to enjoy boiled or grated raw.