How to wash bitter leaf in 3 easy steps with pictures

Bitter leaves are great as vegetables and form a very important part of the Central African diet with much supplements of vitamin C and E. These are green vegetables that grow best and widely in the tropical climate. They are biennials that are easy to plant and harvest and consequently also easy to wash and make ready for cooking.

To wash off the unnecessary bitterness from these very nutritive leaves is not as trivial as with other vegetables. This is why I am writing this post to help ease the process for someone who loves eating meals of bitter leaves as much as I do. The three steps are discussed below.

1.    Cut the leaves into fine slices

Photos showing gathering of leaves and cutting

After harvesting the bitter leaves branches from the farm, plug the leaves off from the point of attachment to the branches. Assemble the plugged leaves together into your hand in sizes that can be easy to cut with less effort. Then, cut them into fine slices of any length and with width of about 3mm using an ordinary chopping board and a sharp kitchen knife. Collect the slices in a kitchen basin.

Note: while carrying out step one, put water on the fire and bring it to the boil. Depending on the volume of collected sliced leaves, you may want to add two to three lumps of limestone to the boiling water.

2.    Immerse the leaves in boiling water

Photo showing bitter leaves in boiling water during washing

After cutting all the leaves, now, immerse them into the boiling water and stir gently with a wooden spoon until all of the leaves are fully soaked by the water. As you stir, the hotness of the water changes the colour of the leaves from thick green to brownish green and the dissolved limestone also hastens the process of removing the bitterness. Continue with this for 30 minutes get the pot off the fire stand after the 30 minutes must have elapsed.

Note: when stirring, lookout for spillage in order to avoid burns for they can be very painful and costly to treat. Not only that, they can create permanent stains too.

3.    Squeeze the leaves

Photo showing squeezing of leaves and squeezed leaves

The last step is to squeeze the leaves to remove extra water from it. When the water is cool enough not to cause burns to the hands, squeeze the leaves and put them back in clean and cold water in order to rinse them. You may rinse more than once but it is recommended that you don’t eliminate all bitterness from the leaves for they form part of the plants nutritive traits. After rinsing, you have to again squeeze the leaves and obtain them in the form you so much solicited.

These leaves are now ready for cooking or they could be preserved in one of two ways:
  1. drying the leaves or 

  2. keeping them in refrigerators/freezers. 
This end product is usually given the name ndole in the Central Africa sub region especially in countries like Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea.

You may also be interested in

 “how to wash corn for corn-chaff in three easy steps”. 

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