Mache

Valerianella locusta

Introduction

Mache, called corn salad or lamb's tongue in English, is a cool season cutting green that is highly valued by the French and Swiss, and is eaten in salads throughout much of northern Europe.

It has a delicate taste often described as "nutty."
It likes cool, even cold, weather and so can be grown virtually year-round.

It is a native of Europe (and probably northern Africa and western Asia), where it has been eaten since ancient times. In more recent times has been introduced as a weed worldwide.

Mache grows wild in corn fields in the eastern U.S. and in northern Europe, hence its common name of "corn salad."

It grows in rosettes and quickly bolts when temperatures go higher than 80 degrees F.

Production

Sow directly as soon as soil is workable. It likes some afternoon shade and moist soil, and seeds germinate best in temperatures between 55 and 68 degrees F.

When seedlings are large enough to handle, thin to 3 inches apart.

It grows slowly, taking up to 60 days to mature, but outer leaves can be cut while plant is still growing.

The leaves stay sweet on the plant for quite a while without turning bitter.

When temperatures top 80 degrees F., harvest most of the rosettes but let a few flowers form seeds. It self sows readily.

Seed Sources

Many major seed houses, including Cook's Garden, Johnny's Selected Seeds, Territorial Seed Co., and others. Specialty importers also have European varieties. For example, L'Atelier Vert has French varieties (www.frenchgardening.com) and Italian Seed and Tool (www.italianseedandtool.com) has Italian varieties.

Post-Harvest and Packing

Similar to other salad greens, must be kept cool and eaten quickly.

Nutritional Information

High in beta carotene, a good source of vitamin A, and fair source of vitamin C.

Found in:

Flag of Belgium
Mache
France
Mache, Doucette
Italy
Mache, Valeriana