As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month comes to a close, let’s spotlight some Asian vegetables Florida growers produce. The below fun facts are from the Asian Vegetables Emerging in Florida series, published by the UF/IFAS Horticultural Sciences Department.
Bitter melon has been used in Asian and African herbal medicine for a long time, and its use in India suggests an ability to lower blood sugar in diabetes patients. It also looks pretty cool.
You’ve probably heard of bok choy, but did you know that it’s chock full of retinol (vitamin A), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and fiber? That means it can be good for your eyes, your heart, and your digestion. You can also grow it year-round in south Florida or two to three times per year in north Florida.
Choy sum is related to broccoli and cabbage. It’s rich in antioxidants, and it makes for a delicious stir-fry with some garlic and chili flakes!
Long bean is referenced in Chinese literature as far back as 1008 CE! The name is accurate, too. Pods regularly grow 18 inches, and it’s sometimes called yardlong bean.
If you thought long bean was old, long squash is even older. In fact, it may have been domesticated as long as 10,000 years ago and brought to the Americas 8,000 years ago! It is commonly used in folk medicines and can even be grown well in your backyard.
Yes, the luffa plant is where your loofah sponges come from. Other species, however, are edible. They’re similar to zucchini and cucumber.
Tong Hao is a leafy herb, used variably in different regional Chinese cuisines as a stir-fry ingredient, a dumpling stuffing with meat, and in hotpots and salads. It tastes somewhat like chrysanthemum. It also can be used as an ornamental plant because of it’s attractive flowers!
Stay up to date with more Asian vegetables emerging in Florida by following the series page. And as always, for everything else, just Ask IFAS.