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Rock samphire (crithmum maritimum) is an edible, aromatic plant with a powerful scent, which “packs” a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
It grows wild in rock crevices, rocky shores and beaches along the Mediterranean and Black sea coasts, as well as along the European Atlantic coast.
Rock samphire’s appeal to the taste buds of wider populations has passed the test of time, as it was consumed consistently during different eras by very different coastal people – from Greeks, Romans and Celts to Turks, Catalans and Croats, and at times (16th century London) by urban populations as well.
Its availability and usage were always limited by its notoriously slow growth, which prevented its wider cultivation. Today its cultivation is feasible, thus making it available in larger quantities virtually all year long.
Rock samphire has a strong flavor and its main culinary use is as a taste enhancer, although it requires precise dosage due to its concentrated aromas.
In Greece it is collected and used both pickled and fresh in a variety of recipes; as a “meze” with ouzo or raki, as a taste enhancer in the Greek salad, or together with fish, shellfish, crustaceans, pulses (beans, chickpeas, lentils) etc.
It is foraged from beaches and used in similar ways as a traditional and taste enhancing herb in coastal areas of other Mediterranean countries like Italy, Croatia, Catalonia, Turkey, France and occasionally in the UK, where it has been a protected plant since 1971. It’s typically known only by its local name in each particular island or area and considered a cherished heritage local product.
Visit our recipes blog to discover the many culinary uses of rock samphire.
Rich in vitamin C, ω-3, ω-6 and antioxidants, rock samphire was consumed by sailors of old as protection against scurvy.
100g of rock samphire leaves per day meet the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C
Its leaves are also rich in several other compounds, such as carotenoids and flavonoids, while the oils extracted from them have high concentrations of fatty acids of the ω-3 and ω-6 series, which have beneficial effects against coronary heart diseases
It is also high in phenol content and ABTS radical scavenging activity
Rock samphire is also a valuable source of antioxidant products, especially chlorogenic acid
The acid used for the fabrication of Tamiflu (quinic acid), is naturally contained in rock samphire
Learn more about rock samphire, its rich history, as well as its wonderful properties in the special website we created for educational purposes kritamo.com.
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