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Samphire

Two quite different plants, both of which can be pickled. The Mediterranean variety, rock samphire, is a small shrub with long, thin fleshy leaves, which grows along the coast on rocks and cliffsides. It has an unpleasant odour that disappears once it is pickled. Known to the Greeks and Romans, it is now added to salads, or eaten as an accompaniment to cold tables. Marsh samphire, which also grows by the sea, is a bright–green plant with thin spiky succulent stems, a mildly salty flavour and a crisp juicy texture. It can be steamed or boiled and served with butter or hollandaise sauce, often as an accompaniment to fish (pictured), or eaten raw in salads. It may also be lightly pickled in vinegar. The name ‘samphire’ comes from a garbling of the French herbe de Saint–Pierre, St Peter’s herb, because the name Peter comes from the Greek word for rock. It can be found in fishmongers. One of its other names, glasswort, comes from the fact that its ash was used in glassmaking.

Special Note

Marsh samphire is also known as — glasswort, salicorne, sea asdescriptiongus Rock samphire is also known as — criste marine, sea samphire, true samphire