Cleaning and Storing Gynura Procumbens (Sabungai)

In the past, the only method I knew to store the leaves of Gynura procumbens or Sabungai was to keep them in the refrigerator inside a plastic container. I simply washed the leaves, drained them and then put them in an old recycled ice cream plastic tub (in place of a tupperware container). I would then take out the tub and open it at the dining table where I ate the leaves raw during dinner.

For the most part, they would keep for a while in the refrigerator, probably a week. After that, parts of some of the Gynura procumbens leaves would start to darken into a gray color and turn soft. I just threw these leaves that had gone bad because I had so much that were still good. Somehow, though, it's still a waste to throw these out, especially when I learned that there's a way to keep them longer in the refrigerator for two weeks or longer.

  • Select and Cut the Gynura Procumbens Leaves

    1. After cutting suitable sized branches from Gynura procumbens leaves, use your fingers to pluck the leaves from the stems. The young shoots on top of the stems are small enough that you can simply cut them in groups of two or three leaves. The stems of the young shoots easily break and are soft enough to eat. The black lines on the picture below show where the shoots may be cut.

    2. There may be new small leaves growing from the stem. Do not remove them if you intend to plant the used stem as a cutting. Shown below are two stems cut from a Gynura procumbens plant.

      The one on the left has been removed of the edible parts while the one on the right still has the edible parts. The one on the left can be planted immediately. Notice the small new leaves that remained on the stem. These small leaves will help the stem cutting to take root.

  • Wash to Clean the Gynura Procumbens Leaves

    1. The method to wash the Gynura procumbens leaves depends on how much they are soiled. For the plants I have at home, I simply put them on a bowl or plate and let running water on them. I then drain the water off. You can also use a strainer for this purpose.

    2. For leaves that I picked up from in other places like neighbors' sidewalks where I get Gynura procumbens for free, I wash them thoroughly.

      You can first soak them in a bowl of water with a teaspoon of salt dissolved in it. Then wash the leaves in running water to remove dirt and soil.

    3. After washing the Gynura procumbens leaves, shake off excess water. The leaves need not be completely dry, but they shouldn't be dripping with water.

  • Bag the Gynura Procumbens Leaves for Storage

    1. Drop the Gynura procumbens leaves inside an opened paper bag as shown below. Don't press on the leaves inside the bag. Let them pile up loosely as you add more leaves.

    2. When the paper bag is almost full, roll down the edges of the paper bag to close it. Carefully insert the paper bag with the Gynura procumbens leaves inside an empty plastic bag as shown below.

    3. Pull apart the two ends of the plastic bag's opening.

    4. Gently squeeze the bag to let air out from the paper and plastic bags. Be careful not to crush the Gynura procumbens leaves inside. By squeezing out air, the stored bag will not be as bulky when stored.

    5. Tie the ends into a loose knot as shown below. Closing the plastic bag prevents the contents from spilling. It also prevents the paper bag from being damaged when handled.

    6. Put the bag inside the refrigerator.

These Gynura procumbens leaves are available for cooking or for eating raw and will keep for about 2 weeks or more. The paper bag absorbs much of the moisture left in the leaves while the plastic bag prevents the paper bag from disintegrating and protects the Gynura procumbens leaves.

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