Green leafy vegetables -Cabbage, collards and other greens

Brief history

There are many varieties of leafy green vegetables, some of which have been cultivated for over five thousand years. Many derive from plants growing wild on the rocky coasts and cliffs of Western Europe and the Mediterranean, where some still grow today. Wild varieties are often bitter and unpalatable and have been cultivated over the centuries to improve the flavour, so the green leafy vegetables of medieval times are different from those we grow today. Sea kale is one of the few varieties indigenous to the UK and it was widely consumed in medieval times. Young leaves are eaten raw or lightly cooked and the first shoots can be steamed and eaten like asparagus. Sea kale became a royal favourite with the Prince Regent (future George IV 1762-1830) enjoying the abundance of wild sea kale on Brighton beach (don’t pick it these days, it’s a protected plant).