Say hello to Wolffia Globosa, a species of duckweed that is considered the world's smallest flowering plant. Wolffia has been used for centuries as a natural food source in Asian cuisines. Wolffia Globosa contains an abundance of nutrition - it boasts all the essential amino acids, bioavailable vitamin B12, Omega 3 fats, and a host of antioxidants and minerals.
In this article, I will introduce you to all you need to know about Wolffia Globosa and how you can incorporate it into different recipes.
- Wolffia Globosa History
- Wolffia Globosa could have big benefits for your health
- Wolffia has Bioavailable Vitamin B12 absorbed well by humans
- National Library of medicine trials
- Wolffia Cultivation
- What does Wolffia taste, look and act like?
- Health Risks of Consuming Wolffia
- How to incorporate Wolffia Globosa into recipes?
- Wolffia recipes by Holistic Chef Academy
- Virtual Cooking 'Wolffia Globosa' 101 Masterclass
- Where to buy Wolffia (Duckweed)
- More Plant-Based Proteins To Read About
What exactly is Wolffia Globosa? It’s a plant that may be small yet holds a ton of possibilities for your health, your nutrition, and the environment.
It is also known as water lentil, duckweed, kai naam, and phum.
- The Worlds smallest flowering plant
- It's rootless and stemless
- It floats in water
- It grows extremely fast (2-3 days)
Wolffia Globosa History
Wolffia Globosa is native to Asia but is also found in the Americas and parts of Africa. It grows in calm bodies of water and provides food and shelter for thousands of species. Due to its ability to take up nutrients, it's considered a very nutritious plant.
Wolffia has been collected and eaten as a vegetable in much of Asia for centuries. In North of Thailand 'Kai Naam' features in many local recipes.
Wolffia Globosa could have big benefits for your health
As Wolffia Globosa is so nutrient-rich, this little green plant can have a surprisingly significant impact on your health.
Wolffia nutrition exceeds other superfoods in many ways. It's a great source of:
- Vitamin A, C, E, K
- Vitamin B2, B12
- Folate, beta carotene
- Lutein, zeaxanthin
- Phosphorus, potassium
- Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc
The Best Plant-Based Protein?
Protein content by dry weight:
- Wolffia Globosa 40%
- Soy 36%
- Lentils 24%
- Quinoa 14%
Wolffia has an amino acid profile that matches meat protein.
- A complete amino acid profile.
- High BCAA
- Easily digestible
- Contains natural vitamins and minerals that surpass many of the best plant superfoods.
- A great source of Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Wolffia has Bioavailable Vitamin B12 absorbed well by humans
This is a gamechanger for plant foods, as it's generally understood that Vitamin B12 is only available from animal-based foods.
Amazingly, Wolffia also possesses bioavailable vitamin B12, making it one of the few non-animal sources of the vitamin. Bacteria and some fungi are the only lifeforms we know of that produce biologically active B12.
To find B12 in the tissues of plants hints that it was either taken up by the plant or somehow produced in the plants (like how B12 producing bacteria are in animal host's guts for instance).
However, it has been known for some time that the Wolffia genus has a symbiotic relationship with the cyanobiont, Anabaena azollae.
This bacteria is actually photosynthetic and produces B12 (2). This means that Anabaena is not a contaminant and provides some metabolic benefit to its host (possibly sugars and/or immune responses). With Wolffia being such a proliferous water plant, it is an abundant and natural source of vitamin B12.
National Library of medicine trials
Wolffia naturally grows on the surface of calm, freshwaters such as ponds, lakes, and marshes. It is a very tiny, oval-shaped plant with no leaves, stems, or roots. The body of the plant, a transparent green frond, is less than a millimeter wide.
What does Wolffia taste, look and act like?
Wolffia has a neutral flavor that lends itself to a multitude of culinary applications. The vivid rich-green-chlorophyll color brings any dish to life. It has a light breadcrumb-like texture.
When stirred into liquids, it acts like caviar, giving a beautiful finish to sauces and dressings. Adding Wolffia to smoothies and purees provides natural green color to the recipe without much of a taste, which allows for the chef's creativity to match with any other ingredient.
Health Risks of Consuming Wolffia
The farming and cultivation methods will impact the overall quality and nutritional content.
It's advised to consume Wolffia within 3 days of harvesting. To preserve it for longer than this, you can cook-freeze or cook-chill to extend shelf life.
I cook by pouring over boiling water, leave to sit for 2 minutes, then strain and stop the cooking process by refreshing in cold or iced water.
The risk of consuming Wolffia after 3 days is that the CFU/g (Colony-forming units per gram) will continue to grow and will increase beyond the recommended levels of 1,000,000 CFU/g.
The higher the total count, the higher the risk that pathogenic bacteria may be found. Our gut contains many more bacteria of different kinds, so it really depends on one's sensitivity and how one might respond to different levels of bacteria.
How to incorporate Wolffia Globosa into recipes?
It's relatively easy to incorporate into different recipes. With a neutral taste, there are limitless possibilities for adding this wonderous superfood to boost your nutrition intake. Here are a few ideas:
- Smoothies bowls
- Sushi rolls
- Vietnamese rice paper rolls
Wolffia recipes by Holistic Chef Academy
I have many Wolffia Globosa recipes under development. You may subscribe to my weekly newsletter to keep up to date with new releases.
Virtual Cooking 'Wolffia Globosa' 101 Masterclass
I host regular online cooking classes and masterclasses, you may like to tune into my ''Cooking with Wolffia 101''
Where to buy Wolffia (Duckweed)
Currently, I can recommend a supply in Thailand. You may contact Advanced GreenFarm for availability and delivery within the Kingdom of Thailand.
For my USA readers, you may explore Eat Mankai.
Fresh Wolffia will last fresh for 3 days after harvesting. It's best to consume fresh within 3 days (as long as it's from a good hygienic source).
You can cook-chill or cook-freeze Wolffia to preserve for longer. It will last 7-10 days in the fridge (to be cooked prior to consumption).
Cook-chill will last around 1 month and cook-freeze can last around 6 months or more.
Fresh Wolffia should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days. If you want to consume fresh, use it within 3 days. Fresh consumption is not recommended for toddlers and those with weakened immune systems. To keep it for longer, you can cook-chill or cook-freeze, divide it into smaller portions, and put it in the fridge or freezer. Defrost in small quantities or blend frozen cubes into smoothies as needed.
It has a neutral taste that lends itself well to limitless culinary applications.