What’s the scoop with Samphire?
Samphire has become a trendy veggie offered in top fine dining restaurants. This native plant is really tasty and is a perfect accompaniment with fish but also works really well without fish.
Samphire (or glasswort, as it’s also known) isn’t really a seaweed but it does grow in the tidal zone, on muddy/sandy flats, often around estuaries and tidal creeks. It’s a succulent plant of the Salicornia species and looks like a miniature cactus (though without spines).
Samphire will keep for up to five days in a fridge but ideally, eat when as fresh as possible.
How to Eat/Cook with Samphire
Samphire is an extremely versatile food and can be eaten raw or cooked in a wide variety of dishes, dried or crushed, as a spice.
Before you cook your samphire, make sure you give it a good wash as sand can often get stuck between the little cracks. Blanch the samphire for a minute or two in water. Drain, run under cold water to stop the cooking then return to the pan with a knob of butter. It’s also great in Emma’s Gnocchi recipe!
Perfect wine pairing
Serve with a robust but crisp white wine.
Can I freeze Samphire?
You can but it doesn’t defrost well. Frozen samphire has a high risk of the water content being removed leaving all of the salt content. Samphire additionally loses its cactus-like texture which gives it a crisp crunch. If you do freeze it, it is recommended to use frozen then defrosted samphire as a blended or liquified ingredient.
Boasting almost no fat, this vegetable is packed with essential minerals, including magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium. That is in addition to a healthy amount of dietary fibre and vitamin A, B, and C. It also contains unique compounds called fucoidans often found in sea vegetables, which can have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Together with its low-calorie (100 calories per 100gram serving), low-fat impact on your body, samphire can be a delicious and nutritious addition to your regular diet.
As a natural source of dietary fibre, samphire can do wonders for the body’s digestive system. Fibre can reduce inflammation in the gut and ensure that nutrient uptake is as efficient as possible.
Boosts Immune System
Vitamin A and C are not only essential vitamins for processes throughout our body, but they also have a significant effect on the immune system. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are the first line of defence for the body.
Improves Bone Health
Samphire is a very rich source of calcium. With regular intake of calcium, you are also optimising your body’s intake of iron, which is essential for good circulation in the body. More importantly, the calcium intake will keep your bones strong and durable as you age. Bone mineral density naturally drops as we grow older, so increased levels of calcium are needed to remain youthful and healthy.
Magnesium doesn’t get much credit in the mineral world, but it can have measurable effects on the hormone balance, neurotransmitter production, and general quality of life for many people. Many people suffer from magnesium deficiency without even knowing. If you suffer from insomnia or regularly have restless nights, it could be a sign that your body’s natural rhythms are out of kilter. Magnesium is ideal for rebalancing you and giving you a good night’s sleep.
Fucoidans found in sea vegetables have antioxidant effects that make them very important for human health. Adding samphire to your body may help protect against various diseases including skin conditions. Fucoidans can help keep your body protected from any would-be pathogens or external attacks.
The extremely low calorie and low-fat content of samphire is good news for anyone who has been struggling to keep their diet in check. Additionally, the dietary fibre in samphire works to optimise excretion and nutrient intake. It helps in making you feel full, by suppressing the ghrelin hormone in the body. When combined, this can lead to less snacking, more energy, and lower caloric intake to help you shed the pounds.
The anti-inflammatory nature of samphire has made it a valuable herbal remedy, both when topically applied and consumed. It can help to ease pain and soothe swelling and inflammation, and even cause fevers to break.
A Word of Caution
While many of samphire’s benefits are clearly important, you should be aware that samphire is also very high in salt.
For people who already suffer from high blood pressure or are at high risk for cardiovascular diseases, samphire should be eaten with caution.