Would you visit Jute (Lalo) Farm in your spare time? My answer to the question is yes. What’s yours?
After writing about Jute leaves for the first time several months ago, I received tons of emails and online questions. It felt obligated to do a follow-up article. I chose to visit a farm to learn more. I was also interested in buying the fresh leaves to create more recipes.
Jute leaves, also called Lalo in Haitian Creole, is a staple in many provinces in Haiti. It is customary to find Jute (lalo) leaves prepared with spinach beef and seafood in Haiti as well. Many people prefer to cook it with only seafood. You may also cook it with meat alone if you prefer.
One of the many reasons why we cook lalo with spinach is almost to eliminate the sliminess the jute leaves create when cooked. Another reason is that spinach accentuates the taste of the jute leaves. It also adds more volume and texture to jute leaves stews
When cooking fresh leaves, it is necessary to use a reasonable amount to get the right portion. Prepared or cooked leaves lose their form and are reduced into smaller sizes. It is also essential to cook leafy greens with the proper utensils. My sister’s friend Syndies always recommends to stir the Jute (lalo) leaves with a wooden spoon. Somehow when you prepare it with a wooden spoon, the sauce has a more appetizing consistency. I have never cooked it with any other types of utensils as I have been afraid to ruin the texture.
Jute leaves are expensive and should not go to waste!
Visiting a Jute farm
Buying Jute leaves at the grocery store can be very expensive. Not only you may have to travel far, but you only get a handful of leaves that may cost you between $2 – $4. Not even enough to feed a family of four.
Finding a farm I thought would be easy. The idea of visiting a farm was exciting until I realized the driving distance from my home. I decide to go with family and friends. We were very excited and could not believe the ride. We thought we would never get to the farm.
The pick-your-own farm we visited was located in New Egypt, NJ, about 2 hours from my house. A bit far but well worth it. Before traveling to any farms, make sure you call ahead to find out availability and harvest time. Not too many plants or fruits are available every day on many farms.
Have you ever seen so much beautiful greenery?
The photo below shows how one of the Jute plants varieties grow into an abundance of beautiful and endless greenery.
The plants resemble any other plants. I am not sure if there are different types of edible Jute plants. I was not able to find a lot of information on the internet about jute plants. Maybe if I had visited a science library, I would be lucky.
The above photo is from a farm located in New Jersey. The farmers grow jute and sell it every year.
Other names, nutrition, and harvest
Jute is also called Saluyot or Jews mallow. The plants are cultivated in a wide range of environments. The plants grow well under the hot and humid weather. The leaves are used fresh or dried, and you can certainly notice the difference.
Jute is rich in iron, protein calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. There are several varieties of Jute plants. There are also several recipes of Jute, lalo, Jews mallow or saluyot. It is widely consumed in many parts of Africa, the Middle East and parts of the Caribbean.
Jute leaves are harvested 30-60 days after planting, depending on variety. The plants may be harvested once or several times and pick-your-own farms are very strict with the schedule. With multiple harvests, only young leaves and shoots are picked every two to there weeks. The plants need time to grow and to flower.
Notes and a closer look
Edible Jute has many nutritional values. Its unique benefits include immunity, heart health, bone health and has excellent anti-inflammation properties. Finding this wonderful plant is not easy.
As there are many species of jute plants, it is necessary to consume the right plant. Jute plants are also used for commercial purposes. It is a source of natural fiber and manufacturers create materials made with jute.
Have you made also shared one of the many recipes we cooked in Haiti, Jute (Lalo) with Beef, Spinach, and Blue Crabs. Not only this recipe has been getting lots of views so does my article titled “Jute (Lalo) Leaves and its benefits.”
Visit a Middle-Eastern, African or Caribbean market for Jute, Lalo, Saluyot or Jews Mallow.