JOB'S TEARS: The Little Grass That Could (make jewelry)

Job’s Tears—aka Coix lacryma-jobi—first harvest.

Job’s Tears—aka Coix lacryma-jobi—first harvest.

The first time I heard of Job’s Tears was in a Baker’s Creek Seed Catalog—a publication akin to plant porn for gardeners. Technically a perennial grass, they can grow somewhere between 3 and 10 feet and the pseudocarps are fantastic for bead work! When cooked, they look a bit like barley—just a hint of sweet and earthy tones—and work well as a warm cereal.

I sure do have a penchant for plants that work for a living.

They are medicinally wonderful, too, of course: from arthritis to allergies, these little corn-like plants have it covered. While they are easy-peasy to throw into soups, stews, or just have herbed and buttered by themselves, they are ridiculously hard to find in a market. Try your hand at growing them, instead! They work as an ornamental grass, so consider where you might want a little height or a backdrop and let these little powerhouses make you food. They protect the lining of your digestive tract, lower cholesterol and are 100% GLUTEN FREE. Yupper. Just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?

Click HERE for an Epicurious article on how to cook them, a bit of the history, and how the grain is still flying under the radar, culinarily speaking. Personally, I plan to add them to my homegrown black bean soup for a bonus chew. (I’ll let y’all know how that turns out over in Southern Magic Recipes!)

Now, the ones I grew (pictured above) were not raised on my own land, but rather in my community garden plot that is ravaged by pesticide-resistant pests, chemicals and soil-borne viruses—not to mention watered by the city system. (Those grown in better conditions come out glossier and more blue.) I’m really loath to plant these little gems out here on the land, so: they are getting a little transformation. With their little inbuilt holes, these are traditionally made into prayer beads or other jewelry and last forever. I’m playing with a bit of an idea that involves introducing them to my Cherokee White Eagle corn in a talisman necklace . . . ah, but to wear the fruits of my labor!

Just one Google search will confirm how beautiful these are as beads, so I won’t inundate you with pics here.

And now, I have to mosey. Linking Baker Creek to this post, I remembered that I’ve been hankering for more of these . . . oh, okay. THEY’VE GOT NEW SEEDS!! Y’all. I have no willpower in the face of all that purple. (Check out the Black Nebula Carrot.)


Seba O'KileyComment