Buck’s Horn (Monk’s Beard)
- german name: Mönchsbart, Spitzwegerich
- swiss name: Barba del Frate, Mönchsbart
- french name: Corne de Cerf
- italian name: Barba del Frate
General Information: This strange looking plant resembles chives bundled-up in a beard-like form…hence the name monk’s beard. Buck’s Horn Plantain as it is also known is actually a wild herb. The variety available in Swiss markets comes exclusively from the salty marshlands around Venice Italy. The monk’s beard has a rich history as a healing herb. During the middle ages, the plant was puréed into a juice-like consistency and either drank or poured directly onto open wounds to heel infections and bee stings. The flavor of monk’s beard is noticeably salty with a slight acidic quality. It is quite similar to sorrel in it’s flavor.
Season: Look for monk’s beard to begin showing up in middle February. The season continues through the mid part of May.
Purchasing Tips: Monk’s beard is difficult to find in stores or supermarkets; they are best found by going to any market. Look for ‘bundles’ that do not appear slimy or have leaves which are black or yellow. Monk’s beard should be quite juicy and firm, with a even green color.
Storage Tips: Separate the bundle and give the leaves a quick wash. Shake off the excess water, wrap in a paper towel, and store refrigerated in a plastic bag for 3-5 days. Don’t remove the stems until ready to use.
Cooking Tips: Monk’s beard can be enjoyed raw or cooked. When eaten raw, the salty flavor is quite prevalent. In a raw state, monk’s beard can be used just like chives – snip a bit into a salad or in a soup. When cooked, the flavor of monk’s beard mellows and harmonizes especially well with olive oil and lemon juice. Quickly sautéed monk’s beard is an excellent accompaniment to most fish dishes.
Nutritional Info: Very good as an anti-oxidant, with high amounts of vitamins and minerals.
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