Inventory, 5 lbs : 1.50
This item was last sold on : 11/29/22
Sea beans are halophytes, meaning they only grow in salty environments. They are found growing upright in dense clusters along coastal waters and even inland along the banks of salt marshes. Sea Beans are succulents with thin, round and fleshy, multi-segmented stems that can reach up to 30 centimeters tall. The bright green Sea Beans have 2 to 6-centimeter-long, horn-like branches growing opposite of each other up the stems. Along the small branches lie tiny, scale-like leaves that look like small shields. Sea Beans will slowly turn red as the weather turns cooler, the color change occurring once the stems become woody and overly salty. The preferred portions of the plant are the tender, green tops and branches, as the lower portions can get tough. Sea Beans are crisp and crunchy with an intensely salty flavor, which can be muted with cooking.
Sea Beans are best when foraged in the late spring and summer months.
Sea Beans are perhaps more commonly known by their botanical name: Salicornia. Though the succulent is also known as Sea Asparagus, Pickleweed, Marsh Samphire, Glasswort or Saltwort depending on where in the world you are. Salicornia means “salt horn” a reference to both the shape and taste of the sea vegetable. Sea Beans are commonly found along the coast, growing wild in the salty soil and even inland growing in the muddy banks of salt flats and marshes. Sea Beans have found a place on restaurant dishes in coastal cities thanks in part to an increase in popularity of foraged items and farmer’s markets. They are often used as a substitute for green beans or wax beans. The term “Sea Bean” is believed to be the result of a marketing campaign for some lesser-known, but nutritious sea vegetable.
Sea Beans are high in protein, with roughly 20 grams per one cup portion. The sea vegetable is also a good source of vitamin A, calcium and iron.
Sea Beans are best when either served raw or lightly blanched. Sea Beans can be added raw to green salads or pasta salads. Sea Beans will intensify the aroma and taste of seafood. Add Sea Beans to stir-frys or lightly sauté with garlic and lemon for a simple side dish. Substitute Sea Beans for green or yellow wax beans – just be mindful of their already salty flavor. Lightly blanched Sea Beans are pickled to preserve and enhance the lightly salty flavor. The briny pickled flavor of Sea Beans pairs well with fish and crab, or smoked salmon lox. Pair pickled Sea Beans with sharp cheeses and cured meats, ham or salami. The pickled sea vegetable can be used like a cornichon or gherkin on crudité platters. Keep Sea Beans refrigerated for up to two weeks. Blanched Sea Beans can be frozen and kept for up to a month.
Sea Beans earned the nickname Glasswort in the 16th century when the plant was commonly used as an ingredient in making glass and soap. Sodium from the salty growing environment is stored in the tissues of the plant. Bushels of Glasswort were gathered from the marshes of Southern Europe and northern Africa and were burned to convert the sodium within the plant into sodium carbonate. The ash was mixed with water, and any non-soluble components were removed. The water was evaporated off, leaving the “soda” or powdered sodium carbonate, which was then used for glassmaking and detergent. Salicornia plants were widely used for this purpose until a process of obtaining soda ash from common salt or natural composites was discovered. The nickname withstood the test of time.
Sea Beans are native to temperate coastal locations worldwide, more often in North and South America, Europe, South Africa and South Asia. There are two distinct varieties, one with a larger growth habit, the other growing more like ground cover reaching no more than 2 inches in height. The coastal plant has quite a few known botanical names, S. fruiticosa, S. europaea, S. bigelovii and even a different species name: Sarcocornia fruiticosa, which may be more common in Europe. Salicornia is most common on coastal shores, intertidal zones, and in estuaries. Their growth is usually triggered by coastal floods or spring rains. In rare instances, they can be found inland near the salt flats like Nebraska’s Rock Creek and Salt Creek watersheds or the Great Salt Lake in Utah in the United States. Sea Beans are available as seed, though grown in a less saline soil does affect the uniquely salty taste of the vegetable. To find Sea Beans in coastal areas outside of farmer’s markets, look to coastal inlets and waterways and be careful of the tides.
Restaurants currently purchasing this product as an ingredient for their menu.
|University Club||San Diego CA||619-234-5200|
|Bistro du Marche by Tapenade||La Jolla CA||858-551-7500|
|Sbicca||Del Mar CA||858-481-1001|
|Fairmont Grand Del Mar||San Diego CA||858-314-1975|
|Andrew Spurgin||San Diego CA||619-277-6020|
|UCSD Food & Nutrition Department Hillcrest||San Diego CA||619-380-9840|
|The Plot||Oceanside CA||422-266-8200|
|Town & Country San Diego||San Diego CA||619-291-7131|
|Jeune Et Jolie||Carlsbad CA||858-231-0862|
|Estancia Adobe||San Diego CA||858-550-1000|
|Kitchens For Good||San Diego CA||619-450-4040|
|Mille Fleurs||Rancho Santa Fe CA||858-756-3085|
|Farmer and The Seahorse||San Diego CA||619-302-3682|
|The Seventh House||San Diego CA||619-310-5614|
|InterContinental Vistal Kitchen||San Diego CA||619-501-9400|
|Miho||San Diego CA||619-365-5655|
|Huntress||San Diego CA||619-955-5750|
|Izakaya Maize/Rabih Sus||La Mesa CA||619-395-6383|
|Park Hyatt Aviara||Carlsbad CA||760-448-1234|
|Animae||San Diego CA||619-925-7908|
|Food by Chef Ty||Vista CA||323-506-1890|
Recipes that include Sea Beans. One is easiest, three is harder.
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