What are the Japanese “spring vegetables” that come to your mind?
Many kinds of spring vegetables have long been harvested in Japan, including bamboo shoots, spring cabbage, rape blossoms, cod sprouts, new onions, new potatoes, butterbur sprouts, udo, asparagus, celery, snap peas, fava beans, field peas, and Japanese parsley.
Many spring vegetables are characterized by the presence of vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and bitter compounds.
Vitamins are effective in promoting metabolism and relieving fatigue, while bitter ingredients help the liver function and detoxify the body.
Spring is a season when dust associated with strong winds can cause allergies, hay fever, and eye irritation, and these vitamin ABC trios are also useful in strengthening the mucous membranes that cover the body in these ways.
The bitter components are saponins, tannins, and alkaloids, which, in small quantities, help the body to detoxify the body by stimulating the liver.
From among those spring vegetables, we have selected the three of the best spring vegetables with the best health and diet benefits and their strongest cooking methods in this article.
I hope you’ll read this all the way to the end so we can all get healthier, lose weight, and have better skin!
- Ranking of Spring Vegetables
- “Rape Blossoms”, the Best Spring Vegetable
- “New onion”, The Best spring vegetable
- “Spring Cabbage”, the Best Spring Vegetable
- “Petit-vert”, a new spring vegetable that is rapidly gaining popularity
Ranking of Spring Vegetables
When you hear the words “spring vegetables,” what spring vegetables come to mind?
The results of the NTT dpoint survey were as follows.
- Bamboo shoots
- Spring cabbage
- Rape blossoms
- Cod sprouts
- New onions
- New potatoes
- Japanese butterbur and butterbur sprouts
- Udo (Japanese udo)
- Snap peas
- Fava beans
- Field peas
- Japanese parsley
- Spring burdock
What was your ranking of the spring vegetables you imagined?
These spring vegetables are rich in vitamins, potassium, calcium, dietary fiber, and other nutrients that help regulate the gastrointestinal tract, boost immunity, and are even good for beauty.
On the other hand, some of them lose their effectiveness or their benefits when heated, and surprisingly, many people do not know how to eat them effectively.
Among these spring vegetables, we have selected three of the best spring vegetables that can be expected to improve various diseases and symptoms and provide the most nutrients, and we will also introduce cooking methods that prevent the nutrients from being lost.
“Rape Blossoms”, the Best Spring Vegetable
Rape blossoms are rich in vitamin B6 and folic acid, which are effective in combating heart disease and colon cancer.
In particular, vitamin B6 has an anti-tumor effect that helps to control tumors.
Main production area
Rape Blossomsa is the flower of Chiba Prefecture and a specialty of Minami-Boso.
Chiba Prefecture ranks first in terms of production nationwide, accounting for about half of the total.
Kagawa and Tokushima prefectures in Shikoku are next, with these three prefectures accounting for about 80% of the nation’s production.
In Chiba Prefecture, rape blossoms are available from November to April, with the best season from January to March.
In Kagawa and Tokushima prefectures, rape blossoms appear about one month later than in Chiba.
Rape blossoms are a green-yellow vegetable with a distinctive bitterness and fresh texture, and are high in nutritional value.
It is noteworthy for its outstanding abundance of β-carotene and vitamin C.
It contains about five times as much β-carotene, which is said to have a high antioxidant effect, as bell peppers, and about three times as much vitamin C as spinach.
It also contains a well-balanced amount of vitamin B2, iron, calcium, potassium, and dietary fiber. It contains as much calcium as komatsuna and as much potassium as molokheiya.
Ideal Cooking Method
Vitamin B6 and folic acid are both water soluble, so do not overboil.
Boiling for a long time will destroy the rich nutritional content.
Oxalic acid, the source of lye, is less than 1/20th that of spinach, so it can be used without boiling, and can be cooked in such a way as not to lose the water-soluble vitamin C as much as possible.
Since the intake efficiency of β-carotene into the body increases when cooked with cooking oil, we recommend adding olive oil or sesame oil to stir-fry as well as to eat.
After boiling for about 30 seconds, it is easy and strongest to let it cool down without soaking in water and eat it as a soaked dish.
In addition, since the absorption rate of vitamin C generally increases when taken together with calcium, which is abundant in dairy products, from the perspective of efficiently ingesting the “vitamin C” contained in rape blossoms, we also recommend using them in stews and gratins.
Please cook them correctly, eat them deliciously, and be healthy.
“New onion”, The Best spring vegetable
Onions are sown in spring or fall and can be found in stores throughout the year due to their easy storage characteristics.
Generally, the word “onion” conjures up images of yellow onions. On the other hand, “New onions,” a group of white onion varieties that come into season in spring, are fresh when eaten raw and have a distinctive sweetness, making them a representative vegetable that reminds us of the arrival of spring.
Major Production Areas
Onions are the fourth largest vegetable shipped nationwide, after potatoes, cabbage, and daikon (radish).
Because onions can be stored, they are an important vegetable that is available year-round and is often used at home.
Major production areas for onions are in Hokkaido, Saga Prefecture, and Hyogo Prefecture.
Hokkaido accounts for about 60% of the national harvest, followed by Saga, Hyogo, and Aichi prefectures, with the top four prefectures producing more than 80% of the national crop.
New onions from Shizuoka Prefecture are the first to appear in Japan, with shipments beginning in early January.
They are then shipped from Kumamoto and Aichi prefectures, and continue to be available until around late June.
New onions are harvested while the leaves are still fresh.
The skin is thin, contains much water, and is not spicy even when raw.
They are also characterized by their softness and lack the bitterness and odor characteristic of onions.
Fresh onions mainly contain the following three strongest nutrients
1. Lowering blood pressure and keeping blood vessels young (quercetin)
Quercetin contained in onions is said to improve blood flow, lowering blood pressure and softening blood vessels, thereby keeping blood vessels young.
Especially, fresh onions can be eaten with their outer skin, so quercetin can be ingested efficiently.
2. Antibacterial and antiviral action (isoallicin)
When onions are chopped, the cells break down and isoallicin is produced.
isoallicin has excellent antibacterial and antiviral effects, leading to prevention of colds and influenza.
3. Universal Component (Sulfides)
When isoallicin is heated, it is converted into sulfides.
Sulfides are expected to have multiple effects, including prevention of arteriosclerosis, blood sugar control, cancer prevention, hypertension prevention, anti-obesity, liver protection, and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, the unique smell of onions is mainly allyl sulfide, which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and raises body temperature.
This increase in body temperature helps prevent colds and promotes the burning of fat.
Ideal Cooking Method
Isoallicin, which has antibacterial and antiviral properties, is produced more actively the thinner it is chopped.
When slicing, it is recommended to cut in a thin, fiber-breaking direction.
Sulfides, a versatile ingredient, also increase with increasing temperature.
The optimum temperature is about 60°C.
If the temperature is too warm, the production stops and the effect is lost.
Therefore, New onions are strongest when sliced raw and thinly sliced as they are, and eaten in salads and sandwiches without being exposed to water.
Roasting allows you to enjoy the soft texture and sweetness of new onions, but be sure to cook them for a short time so that the temperature does not rise above 60 degrees Celsius.
Also, new onions do not keep very long because they are shipped immediately after harvest without being dried and have a lot of moisture.
Store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and eat them within 2 to 3 days.
“Spring Cabbage”, the Best Spring Vegetable
Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable.
Originating from the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, the wild kale cultivated by the Celts around 600 B.C. is said to be the origin of cabbage.
Incidentally, kale is known as an ingredient of the health food “Aojiru” (green juice).
Main Production Areas and Best Season
Cabbage production areas change with the seasons.
Winter cabbage,” which is available in the cold season from November to March, is characterized by its heavy, thick leaves, and is mainly produced in Aichi and Chiba prefectures.
Summer and Autumn cabbages, available from July to October, are grown in cooler regions such as Tsumagoi Village in Gunma Prefecture and are known as “highland cabbages.
Among these, the soft and fluffy “spring cabbage” is available from late February to early May.
It is mainly grown in Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures where it is warmer.
Spring cabbage mainly contains the following three strongest nutrients
Skin beautifying effect (vitamin C and β-carotene)
Spring cabbage contains 1.3 times more vitamin C and 3 times more β-carotene than regular cabbage.
Vitamin C has strong antioxidant properties and works to remove active oxygen, which causes aging of the skin and body, and to inhibit the production of melanin, which causes blemishes.
In particular, the closer to the core, the higher the vitamin C content, so use up the entire core.
On the other hand, β-carotene is expected to maintain healthy skin and mucous membranes and stimulate metabolism.
Anti-cancer effect (isothiocyanate)
When cabbage is chopped, the cells are crushed to produce isothiocyanate.
Its health power is its anti-cancer effect.
In the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Designer Foods Program, cabbage is listed as the vegetable with the second highest potential for cancer prevention, after garlic.
Some reports suggest that people who consume high levels of isothiocyanates have an approximately 40% reduced risk of developing cancer compared to those who consume little or no isothiocyanates.
Energizes the gastrointestinal tract (S-methyl methionine methylmethionine sulfonium chloride)
S-methyl methionine, a component unique to cabbage, is also called a “natural stomachic.” It inhibits the secretion of stomach acid, protects the gastrointestinal mucosa, and restores liver function.
In ancient Greece and Rome, it was consumed as a healthy food that regulated the gastrointestinal tract.
“Cabezin” a well-known gastrointestinal medicine, is another name for vitamin U.
Ideal Cooking Methods
Spring cabbage is rich in vitamin C.
The parts of cabbage that contain the most vitamin C are the outer leaves and the core.
Therefore, it is wise to cook them without discarding them.
The soft parts should be used for salads and other raw foods, while the tough leaves should be used for cooking.
Also, if cabbage is soaked in water, it loses about 20% of its vitamin C content, so it should be used without soaking in water.
Furthermore, chopping the cabbage into small pieces crushes the cells and produces isothiocyanates, which have anti-cancer properties.
We recommend “Spring Cabbage with Salted Kelp,” which is made by shredding the outer leaves of spring cabbage into thick strips, mixing them with salted kelp, and leaving them for about 30 minutes without exposing them to water.
This one dish provides enough vitamin C for one day.
“Petit-vert”, a new spring vegetable that is rapidly gaining popularity
Petit-vert means “little green” in French, but this vegetable was not born in France but was bred in Japan.
Petit-vert is a new breed of vegetable with high nutritional value, created in 1990 on a farm in Shizuoka Prefecture by crossing kale and Brussels sprouts.
At first glance, a Petit-vert seedling looks like a Brussels sprout, but the leaves attached to the stem are different from those of a Brussels sprout.
The leaves do not tuberize, but instead have small leaves attached to them in the shape of a rose flower.
These leaves are harvested and sold as Petit-vert, the most popular and strongest spring vegetable that has been gaining popularity recently.
Petit-vert has no peculiar taste and does not have the bitterness of kale, so it can be used in a variety of dishes.
Compared to other vegetables, Petit-vert has a high sugar content, so even just boiling it in salted water gives it a slightly sweet taste and makes it delicious.
The general selling price of Petit-vert varies slightly depending on the quantity and producer, but a bag of Petit-vert costs around 200 to 300 yen.
Main production areas and when in season
Petit-vert has been gaining attention and cultivation has begun in Shizuoka Prefecture, where it was born, as well as in Niigata Prefecture and other parts of Japan.
Petit-vert’s season is about the same as that of Brussels sprouts, and it is available from around November to March.
As the temperature drops, the leaves become sweeter and more delicious.
Petit-vert is a good source of calcium, β-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, dietary fiber, and potassium.
Petit-vert contains about 7 times more fiber than lettuce, 6 times more β-carotene than green peppers, 5 times more vitamin c than spinach, and 2 times more vitamin E than burdock root!
Ideal Cooking Method
When vegetables are cooked with heat, they tend to lose vitamins and other nutrients, but in the case of Petit-vert, they can be cooked for a short time and eaten without losing much nutrition.
The recommended way to eat it is simply by microwaving it.
It is rich in nutrients, easy to eat, and delicious, so please try it.
How was it?
Spring vegetables are rich in nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C, and many of them contain bitter ingredients.
Vitamins are effective in promoting metabolism and relieving fatigue, while bitter components help the liver function and detoxify the body.
All of these vegetables are highly nutritious and highly recommended, but if they are eaten or cooked in the wrong way, the abundant nutritional components may be spoiled.
This time, we have compiled the characteristics, production areas, nutrients and best cooking methods of “Rape blossoms,” “New onions,” “Spring cabbage” and “Petit-vert” which is rapidly gaining popularity, as the three strongest spring vegetables.
So, this spring, let’s eat spring vegetables deliciously and get your health, diet, and beauty!