Seed Saving: Intermediate
Agretti or Tuscan Roscano (Salsola soda)
Agretti o Roscano Toscano (Salsola soda): this litle plant is highly salt-tolerant, hence, grows in sandy seashores, coastal areas, and sandy islads that emerge from lagoons . It is also known as Barba di Frate (friar’s beard) because of the long, filiform leaves resembling the long beards of the Capuchin friars; for the same reason it is also called Negus beard. Another synonym, Agretto, comes from its sour, salty taste.
Its multiple names depend on the Italian region where it grows, in Tuscany, for instance, it is known as “Tuscan vegetable”, and in Romagna “lischi”. It has also been called “sea fennel”, “bacicci”, or “monk’s mustard”.
To be sown in autumn or late winter., the seeds should not be buried to deep, more like rest on the damp soil.
It is used in multiple recipes in Italy, and it's becoming more and more popular in high-end restaurants.
In the past, it was an important source of soda (sodium carbonate) which was extracted from its ashes after its combustion. It also has a strong use in Roman-Jewish culinary tradition, since it is the main dish served for the Shabbat. Even though it is not part of the Kosher tradition, the use of the friar’s beard in ghetto kitchens dates back to ancient times.