Chenopodium bonus-henricus - good King Henry

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Good King Henry Self Seeding

I planted this Good King Henry last year and was suprised to see so many seedlings coming up right beside it this year.  Only wish I liked the taste a little better  :P

Ontario, CanadaUSDA zone 6a

Good king henry fried with butter

Its tastes not bad fried with butter, onions and garlic.

Ontario, CanadaUSDA zone 6a

GKH early and late

My favorite use for Good King Henry has been to blanch and freeze it, to use in soups and stews through the winter.  Although it's a decent early perennial green (with leaves by late March or early April), as Eric says: it's not that exciting -- especially when there's overwintered annual spinach, mustards, mache, claytonia, and other more tasty greens to choose from. I rarely go for more than a small amount of GKH for fresh use, and then, just because it's there and I feel like I should.I'm more eager to blanch the leaves (~2 min.) and freeze several batches. In soups and stews, it's superior to frozen annual spinach, as the slightly tougher leaves don't get as "mushy" after being frozen.  One of my favorite recipes is an Armenian Lentil-Spinach stew (in Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook), and GKH beats out spinach, hands-down. Comes mid-summer, when most of the spring greens are gone, GKH is still going strong. So a few more batches make it into the freezer, and if time and energy allow, maybe a few more in the fall. 

great recipe

Thanks Margo! This kind of experience sharing is exactly what Apios is for!

Eric Toensmeier - writer, trainer, plant geek - www.perennialsolutions.org

GKH early and late

My favorite use for Good King Henry has been to blanch and freeze it, to use in soups and stews through the winter.  Although it's a decent early perennial green (with leaves by late March or early April), as Eric says: it's not that exciting -- especially when there's overwintered annual spinach, mustards, mache, claytonia, and other more tasty greens to choose from. I rarely go for more than a small amount of GKH for fresh use, and then, just because it's there and I feel like I should.I'm more eager to blanch the leaves (~2 min.) and freeze several batches. In soups and stews, it's superior to frozen annual spinach, as the slightly tougher leaves don't get as "mushy" after being frozen.  One of my favorite recipes is an Armenian Lentil-Spinach stew (in Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook), and GKH beats out spinach, hands-down. Comes mid-summer, when most of the spring greens are gone, GKH is still going strong. So a few more batches make it into the freezer, and if time and energy allow, maybe a few more in the fall. 

GKH in flower

Eric Toensmeier - writer, trainer, plant geek - www.perennialsolutions.org

Early Spinach (Good King Henry)

Low clumping (size 2x2 feet) perennial. Large deep root. Early blanched spring greens or eat the spring flower shoots like asparagus (cook with butter and garlic)

Before the industrial revolution Early Spinach was used as a food in England. With heavy additions of manure added, the spring flower shoots were blanched and then eaten as an early "asparagus". In our garden we mainly eat the leaves cooked before the plant starts to flower in the spring. This early spinach is one of the first green plants in our garden right at the end of winter. Cook with other early greens like Spinach vine, Garlic chives, and Come-again sorrel for a nice post-winter meal.

We grow early spinach as a clumping herb in the understory of larger plants. It does well under the partial shade of our asian pear, and as long as you give it space it can live among other similar or larger size perennial vegetables. I would like to try growing it in a large group, and feed it large amounts of manure (Martin talks highly of it in his new book.

Order plants from permaculturenursery.com

herbaceous perennial vegetable

Good King Henry is a reliable low-maintenance perennial vegetable. It grows for years with neglect, tolerates partial shade, and seems to have no pest problems.

Problem is, it is not a fantastic food plant. Just a good one. Any time you want to cook up some greens you can add some good King Henry and you won't be dissapointed. Just don;t try to eat it raw, it is pretty gross.

With that said, I'm told that when well-fertilized the shoots make a very good vegetable with a long season of cutting. Our unfertilized plants make some shoots but they have not rocked me. We'll give it a try next year.

As I mentioned in Perennial Vegetables, this species could be the grandparent of all manner of new perennial vegetables by crossing with magenta lambs quarters, huauzontle, and quinoa, much as wild cabbage is the parent of cabbage, broccoli, and kales.

Please share your experiences cooking and growing good King Henry, I'd love some tips.

Shoots of good King Henry just past the eating stage (leaves still fine to eat):

Incredible taproots of good King Henry - probably a great mineral accumulator:

 

Eric Toensmeier - writer, trainer, plant geek - www.perennialsolutions.org

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