Was Saluyot Cleopatra’s Secret?
Grown for Food Since 6000 B.C.
Jute has been grown for food since 6000 B.C. and was reportedly eaten by Cleopatra for its health and beauty benefits. In recent history however, it has been relatively unknown for its range of culinary and health benefits. Instead the fiber-rich stem of the jute plant has been dismissed as just a source of for bags and ropes.
In part, the reason for this probably lies in the fact that this food with its tender leaves is so commonly grown in many parts of the world that it had no commercial value as a food product. But maybe the Egyptian people knew a secret. This member of the mallow family is considered a staple in Egypt, where it is called malukhiyah.
Today, in many parts of Asia, Africa and in the Philippines, jute leaves, also called saluyot, or Jew mallow, have been heading the list of anti-aging miracles. By far, one of the most nutritious and rich sources of calcium, beta carotene, and vitamins C & E, jute leaves are a healthy addition to soups and stir-fry veggie dishes. Like the consistency of okra when cooked, jute leaves are similarly sticky and are added to soups, sauces, and stews to thicken the dish.
Anti-aging Benefits of Saluyot
Jute leaves contain almost all of the nutrients needed by humans. But, the most important benefit of the leaves is their high antioxidant property, primarily in the form of Vitamin E. These antioxidants combine with free radicals that cause problems like arthritis, hardening of arteries, heart and kidney ailments. Among the many benefits, saluyot contains:
- Vitamin A, which aids in repairing the body’s cells and improves eyesight
- Vitamin C or ascorbic acid, which improves circulation and helps lower the risk of cataracts and other eye disorders
- Vitamin E, which slows down the aches and pains associated with aging, holds infertility at bay, and increases stamina
- A high percentage of calcium, which contributes to strong teeth and bones.
Eating saluyot regularly helps control blood pressure & cholesterol, and lowers the risk of asthma, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Dried saluyot leaves can be made into a tea believed to cure headaches, dysentery, stomach aches and ulcers
Saluyot can be added to any soup you make: chicken, beans, pumpkin and so on. It could also be stir-fried and eaten with rice or noodles. The longer it is boiled or fried, the more sticky it gets, so do not let it stew for too long.
1 cup jute leaves, washed and finely chopped
1 cup pumpkin leaves, washed and finely chopped
5 bitter eggplants, washed and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Ground coriander seeds
Add enough water or chicken broth for cooking the ingredients without sticking
Mix the ingredients in a pot and simmer for about 15 minutes on a low flame.
Lightly sauté garlic with ground coriander in a tablespoon of olive or coconut oil and add at the end. Salt to taste.
Where to Find Saluyot
It is recommended that you buy organically grown saluyot, as you would any other vegetable. But, because the leaves wilt quickly after picking, you’re not likely to find it in your local grocery or even farmer’s market in the US. Although you most certainly would in the Philippines or Egypt.
In the Philippines, a form of veggie noodle supplemented with saluyot has been developed to combat nutritional deficiencies. Products include canton and instant cup noodles and may soon be available in specialty stores in the West.
Grow Your Own Wrinkle Buster
Saluyot Harvest in Philippines
Although some jute plants produce bitter leaves and are not considered edible, we managed to find a seed source for an edible variety of saluyot at Nichols Garden Nursery in Oregon.
Although it can be found in the wild in many soil types, it grows best in nutrient rich soils. Saluyot doesn’t tolerate drought, so be sure to water it at least weekly during dry weather. It will produce best in warm weather and the leaves should be picked frequently to encourage new tender growth. As fall approaches you can pull the entire plant and hang it to dry. The dry leaves can either be used for tea or added to soups during the cold months.
Add some saluyot to your kitchen garden and grow your own wrinkle buster. You might even want to experiment making your own facial masks and tell your friends you’re using Cleopatra’s Secret.
Cleopatra photo credit: Gabrielle Sinatra
Saluyot Noodles photo credit: Philippines Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology
Saluyot Harvest photo credit: who.log.why