Jute leaves or Lalo leaves also known as Saluyot, or Jews Mallow is a super leafy food we should not ignore. Jute leaves are very healthy and make great vegan and non-vegan stews. They can be found fresh in farms, in the frozen aisle in ethnic supermarkets, and in many specialized local supermarkets. Here’s everything you need to know about prepping them and turning them into tasty recipes.
Jute leaves are delicious, nutritious, and packed with intense flavor when cooked alone or with spinach. When cooked with spinach you get a double dosage of healthy goodness. How about adding carrots and peppers? This is one of the best veggie stews you can prepare.
How to prep Jute leaves for cooking
Prepping jute leaves is easy! Jute leaves are sold fresh, dried, and frozen.
Frozen: There’s not much to do. You cannot wash frozen leaves. Make sure that you buy a recommended frozen brand. It is best to do your research
Dried: When sold dried, the leaves have not been washed. First, remove any dead leaves or any of the debris you may have found. Give the leaves a quick rinse and you are ready to cook.
Fresh: Rinse the leaves thoroughly with water and let them dry if you are not ready to cook, then store either in your freezer or refrigerator. You may also opt to add vinegar to the water.
Fresh Jute Leaves are similar to any other leaves. They wilt and spoil very easily.
How to Use Jute leaves
My favorite way to prepare jute leaves is to add them to stews with beef and seafood.
There are several African as well as Asian recipes on the internet. With all recipes, always read all the ingredients and make sure you can find them in your local supermarkets. You may also try my recipe first as it is very easy and tasty to prepare, Lalo with Beef and Blue Crab. You have to try it!
How to pick out the best Jute leaves
You can only pick out fresh jute leaves. When visiting a farm, a farmer advised me to pick the leaves at the top of the stems. This way, the plants can continue to grow healthy during the season.
How to store Jute Leaves
Storing jute leaves is similar to storing any other type of leaves such as spinach or kale.
Dried: Store the packaged leaves in a cool area.
Frozen: Store the frozen pack as recommended per the instructions on the packaging.
Fresh: Follow the instructions below.
Preserving the leaves after visiting a farm is quite easy.
As mentioned before, rinse the leaves thoroughly, remove any excess water (with vinegar) and let them dry. Place them in a freezer ziplock bag and store in your refrigerator for future use.
I will not suggest storing the leaves wrapped in a damp kitchen towel. The leaves are similar to leafy green (spinach, kale, etc.). The leaves are not tough, they are very tender. They will spoil if not stored properly.
About the texture
The texture of lalo may not be appetizing for many people. When cooked lalo can be a bit slimy; not like okra slimy! When the leaves are cooked down too much they resemble a pesto-like texture.
It was recommended to me by a friend to use a wooden spoon when cooking Lalo. I have been doing it and have not done otherwise. Jute leaves are very expensive and should be preserved and cooked the right way.
I would recommend cooking the leaves for a few minutes. I would also recommend adding other leafy greens for a tastier stew.
Lastly, always use good herbs and spices to season your stews. You will not taste the freshness of all the ingredients a lot more.