Food - Drink
What Are Sea Beans And How Do You Eat Them?
By CLAIRE REDDEN
Sea beans, also known as samphire, glasswort, pickleweed, or sea asparagus, are a plant species that belongs to the genus Salicornia. Sea beans are halophytes that flourish across saltwater beaches and coastal marshlands, and have branch-like stalks resembling thick grass that are edible, with a satisfying, salty bite.
Sea beans are suitable for a sustainable farming method known as "saltwater agriculture," since they require no fresh water, which is becoming increasingly scarce. Sea beans are the first crop to be farmed this way hydroponically, and are currently grown by Charleston, South Carolina's Heron Farms and sold to consumers in the area.
Sea beans don't just absorb salt from the ocean, but also valuable minerals, which gives them high levels of iron, potassium, magnesium, and more. Sea beans have a high sodium content, but consuming them will not dramatically alter your blood pressure, since the trans ferulic acid in this vegetable helps prevent hypertension.
Sea beans have a nice refreshing crunch and snap, and each bite comes with a surprising burst of flavor. They are served many different ways around the world, including blanched in olive oil and garlic, dried and ground into powder and mixed with sea salt for a versatile seasoning, or even stir-fried in a dish with glass noodles.
You could venture into the marshlands and try foraging sea beans for yourself, but they can also be found at the farmer's market, even in non-coastal areas, so long as you look around early May, the peak season for this sea vegetable. However, Hero Farms' website also sells sea beans for $19.99 per 8 oz pack year-round.