Other names: Malabar Spinach, Basella Rubra, Basella Alba, Climbing Spinach, Red Vine Spinach
Translations: Vīnogulāju Spināti, Vynuogių Špinatai, Spanac de viţă de vie, Vine Špinat, Vine Rau bina, Szpinak winorośli, Vine Spinazie, बेल पालक, Vinha Espinafres, Вайн Шпинат, Αμπέλου Σπανάκι, كرمة السبانخ, 덩굴 시금치, Révy Špenát, Vine Bayam, Puno ng ubas spinach, 藤菠菜, D'espinacs, Vine Špinača, Viniča Špenát, Vine Spinaci, גפן תרד, Vine Spenat, Спанаћ вино, バインほうれん草, Vigne aux épinards, Vine Spinat, Vine Spinat, Vine Spinat, De espinaca, Вайн Шпинат, Vine Pinaatti, Лозарство спанак
Vine spinach grows, as its name suggests, on a vine, producing dark green heart-shaped leaves that are about five inches across at maturity. Interspersed among the leaves are small pink flowers that eventually change to small black seeds as the plant matures. The Basella rubra variety has a reddish vine instead of a green one, and its leaves have a slight reddish tinge around the edges and on the underside as well.
Colors: Green, dark green, red, burgundy, pink
Flavors: Slightly bitter (more common in the Basella Alba variety), earthy, mild, peppery
Mouthfeel: Smooth and crunchy
Food complements: Seafood, Salads
Wine complements: Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot noir
Beverage complements: Tea
Substitutes: Spinach, Basil, Leaf lettuce
Selecting and Buying
Seasonality: january, february, march, september, opctober, november, december
Peak: january, february, opctober, november, december
Choosing: Select dark green leaves that are crisp and have no visible signs of wilting or mold.
Buying: Vine spinach is widely found at markets in Asia and Africa, but is a bit more difficult to find in the United States and Europe. The best place to look for this leafy green is in Asian food stores or farmers' markets.
Procuring: Vine spinach thrives in hot and humid conditions, and in the United States, is best grown in the Southeast. It may be grown in hot, dry climates, but leaves may not mature properly. Cold and icy environments will prevent this vine from growing and may kill it. The vine should be planted in loamy soil and fertilized with a combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers. It can be left to grow along the ground or trained to grow around stakes or other vertical structures.
Preparation and Use
The leaves can be washed added directly to salads and soups, or chopped and sprinkled on seafood such as fish, clams and crab.
Cleaning: As with all leafy greens, vine spinach should be washed thoroughly with water or a vegetable rinse to remove all soil, sand and fertilizer residue.
Conserving and Storing
Vine spinach should be dried thoroughly and loosely packed into a plastic bag or container, where it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.