A Taste of Japan in County Armagh

Watch Wasabi Crop on TV on 27 April 2020 at 2 pm on the James Martin’s Islands to Highlands show

In this episode of the new series, James meets Dr Sean Kitson and his son Zak who produce fantastic wasabi, a type of Japanese horseradish, in a polytunnel in the garden of their home in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

James met Dr Sean Kitson in one episode of the new series. Pictured: James Martin, Zak Kitson and  Paul Rankin.

Quotes from James Martin

Proper Japanese wasabi is very expensive – one stalk can be £90 – and it’s very difficult to grow as the roots are mainly grown out of the ground so it can take over two years,’’ says James.

But here’s this 17-year-old lad and his dad growing it.

I’d never seen it grown, now I’m a fan. I wasn’t into horseradish but this stuff is amazing, and I created a wasabi salmon recipe around it.

As a pig farmer’s kid, I’ve always said that to fully understand food, you’ve got to understand how hard it is to produce.

Enjoy fresh wasabi








Wasabi Crop News

wasabia japonicaTurning Japanese: Co Armagh dad and son crack secret to growing wasabi


  • Most wasabi in the supermarkets, it’s all fake.


  • Armagh father and son grow Ireland’s most expensive vegetable


  • World’s most expensive vegetable grown in Tandragee


  • Wasabi


  • ‘Green gold’ wasabi adds spice to garden



I hope you enjoy this Wasabi Crop News update!


Please visit Wasabi Crop

Wasabi Rhizomes Are Ready!

Hi Everyone,

Its been some time since my last wasabi post but I have been waiting for the rhizomes!

Wasabi Crop had a great weekend, and Zak dug up 51 rhizomes with the biggest weighing 170 g. We prepared the rhizomes for our customers by first trimming them.  This involved cutting the head and trimming off the bottom. The rhizomes were then washed in fresh cold water and prepared for vacuum packing.  They were then frozen.

vacuum packed wasabi rhizome

vacuum packed fresh wasabi rhizomes from wasabi crop

These freshly frozen wasabi rhizomes will be delivered to our customers in a vacuum pack.  On receipt of the vacuum-packed wasabi rhizome, it should immediately be taken out of the bag and washed it under cold running water. Each fresh wasabi rhizome is then individually wrapped in damp cheesecloth which will be supplied with the order.  The customer must then store them in an open glass bowl on the top shelf of their refrigerator. The cheesecloth is then periodically checked every 2-3 days to ensure that they remain moist; changing or dampening the rhizome again as required.  It is important to remember not to seal the dish.  This Wasabi Rhizome should last for up to 10 days in the fridge.

real fresh wasabi rhizomes

real fresh wasabi rhizomes


Overall this is an excellent approach as during the preparation the wasabi rhizome is trimmed by removing the crown and the root tip to ensure the customer receives all the rhizome!

Your wasabi rhizome has taken over 2 years to grow in Northern Ireland.  Yes, you heard right!  It was grown in Northern Ireland, and Wasabi Crop is the first Company to achieve this.

Most people have never tasted real wasabi: FAKE wasabi which is consumed come out of a plastic tube.  What you have actually been eating is common horseradish with a little green food colouring and mustard.

Fake Wasabi

Fake Wasabi


Why is it so rare? Wasabi is a temperamental crop requiring particular growing conditions and critical care to flourish. It is also somewhat perishable: because of these factors, real wasabi can be extremely hard to get your hands on!

If you would like to buy some, please visit the Store at Wasabi Crop!

I have to go now and help dig up more rhizomes; it would be great to beat the British record of 377 g!

Enjoy your fresh wasabi – providing new foods for your table! 



Growing Wasabi in Northern Ireland

mazuma wasabi

Here at Wasabi Crop we have been growing Wasabi for the last several months and will be ready for harvest in 2018. To many this may seem a long time, but it does take two years to grow top quality rhizomes. The good news is that leaves and stems will be for sale in 2017. Wasabi Crop is the only commercial grower in Northern Ireland and we cannot wait to serve all our customers with our Wasabi varieties. These include Mazuma, Daruma and Green Thumb including all their corresponding leaves and stems.


Mazuma Wasabi Plant from our Wasabi Crop Facility

The history of wasabi goes back to the ancient Japanese who were consuming wasabi around 14,000 B.C.  The cultivation of wasabi is mostly done in Japan and gained popularity through the serving of sushi. Wasabi complements sushi through its flavour and associated antibacterial properties to offset food poisoning. Wasabi has an interesting botany. It is known as Wasabia japonica which is part of the Brassica family. This family consists of horseradish mustard and cabbage.


Fresh Baby Wasabi Leaves & Stems Grown at Wasabi Crop

Wasabi has very distinctive heart-shaped green leaves which can grow on long thick stems protruding from the crown of the plant.  The wasabi stem is known as the rhizome and is located at the base of the plant and over time grows upwards above ground. The rhizome is ready for harvest within two years. The rhizome is the most valuable part of the plant and this is used to produce freshly grated wasabi paste. The harvested pale green rhizome can be grated using a sharkskin grater.


Large Wasabi Leaves from our plants

Wasabi is especially challenging and expensive to cultivate and this is the reason why there is a lot of fake wasabi being sold and consumed. These wasabi so called products contain tiny amounts of real wasabi such as less than 0.3%. It is amazing that they can sell these as wasabi products. Interestingly, just by reading the ingredients, on these so called wasabi foodstuffs, you will be amazed they contain a combination of horseradish, mustard and green dye and very tiny amount of real wasabi. Unbelievably, they are all marketed as wasabi products which do contain any wasabi at all – scandalous!

So, at Wasabi Crop we have set ourselves the challenge to grow real fresh wasabi – here in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. County Armagh is famous for growing apples such as Bramley


Bramley Apple Trees – County Armagh

After much research into cultivating wasabi we have mastered the growing. Presently, we are growing Mazuma wasabi. All our wasabi will be ready for 2018; this may seem far away because wasabi rhizomes take two years to mature. Just think our customers will be able to buy real fresh wasabi from us in 2018 and every year after that.


Freshly Grated Wasabi

On receiving the wasabi rhizome – recognised by its stunning pale green colour – just grate it in circular motions by using a grater it is best to use a traditional Japanese sharkskin grater. Then just add the freshly grated wasabi to your favourite recipe of choice. Imagine the possibility of wasabi ice cream and wasabi chocolate or even a wasabi beverage. The experience of tasting freshly grated wasabi with its pungent heat generates a taste which is very different from chilli for example.

The wasabi kick comes into action and develops quickly to diffuse up the sinuses rather than staying in the mouth, then quickly dissipates. The wasabi kick experience delivers a refreshing heat, – so try it. Not only is wasabi a herb it is a medicinal plant providing heath benefits due to its key component of allyl isothiocyanate which releases during the grating process. The isothiocyanates enable wasabi to produce associated antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiparasitic properties.

Several research studies are evaluating the constituents for the prevention of certain disease states like cancer. Wasabi would make a great contribution towards a healthy diet by providing low cholesterol and sodium constituents. Consequently, it is a source of dietary fibre and vitamin C and a provider of vitamin B6. In addition to the elements of calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese.

So, please visit Wasabi Crop and sign-up for the latest wasabi crop updates.Enjoy your fresh
wasabi – providing new foods for your table!


Sofia Kitson

Wasabi Crop

Food Tours & Trails visit Wasabi Crop

The Food Tours and Trails of County Armagh, Northern Ireland came to Wasabi Crop. The objective behind these tours is as a result of local chefs and producers willing to showcase the rich heritage of food grown in County Armagh.  The tour created a unique opportunity for the guests to be able to meet the chefs and producers and hear about their passion and commitment to food. The great thing about these food tours is that you have the pleasure of tasting the local produce and for a brief moment enjoy the journey.

On this particular tour, Head Chef John Whyte of the County Armagh Hotel gave an inspirational talk about food preparation in ‘The Friary Restaurant.’ The monks lived in the nearby Franciscan Friary from the 13th Century.  Chef Whyte and his team mirror the monks’ ideology by using the best locally sourced ingredients as the basis for all their menus.

The tour then headed to the picturesque Drumlin belt towards the outskirts of Portadown for a visit to the Armagh Cider Company. The Troughton family have been growing delicious apples on their farm at Ballinteggart House for four generations.  A short drive took the party to Groucho’s pub located in the 17th Century Square of the historic village of Richhill. Head chef Mervyn Steenson served a delicious lunch made with the finest produce from County Armagh.

The final part of this culinary journey was at Wasabi Crop where the party picked and sampled wasabi leaves and stems.  This is the first time that Wasabia Japonica has been cultivated in Northern Ireland. Zak Kitson gave an inspirational talk about the origins of Wasabi and the reasons behind the formation of Wasabi Crop.  Currently, Wasabi Crop is in partnership with Gilfresh Produce.

Everybody enjoyed a good day out!


Wasabi Crop

Wasabi Crop -‘Everybody is Looking for Something Different’

Wasabi Crop was at the London Produce Show on June 8, 2017 and met many people interested in real fresh wasabi.  Firstly, they could not believe that we were growing wasabi in Northern Ireland and the three plants which we transported from Northern Ireland to the show were definitely a star attraction.  However, not only did we bring some wasabi leaves and stems for the delegates to try but they found the stems fresh and crunchy and the leaves having the right amount of kick. At the end of the show, we gave two mazuma wasabi plants to Chef Gavin from the Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London where the show was held in the Great Ballroom. The remaining plant was given to Jason Danciger of Sushi Gourmet. You can see Sean Kitson (left) of Wasabi Crop and Jason in the photo below enjoying real wasabi!


The title of this post was inspired by a presentation given by Chef Peter Gorton shown in the extract below.

Everybody is Looking for Something Different’ Says Chef Peter Gorton on The London Produce Show – 7th-9th June with many years in the restaurant business under his belt, Michelin-starred British chef Peter Gorton now travels the world consulting for the hospitality industry far and wide. Speaking to PBUK, he talks about the encouragement he feels when meeting with passionate growers, the ever-growing trend of seeking out that something new to eat, and the diverse and high-profile line up of chefs who will be cooking up a storm at The London Produce Show 2017.


Wasabi Crop’s vision is to produce ‘Everybody is Looking for Something Different’, so at the 2018 London Produce Show we will not only be bringing wasabi leaves and stems but the rhizomes will be the stars of the show!

Enjoy working with fresh wasabi!


London Produce Show 2017

Hi Everyone,

Wasabi Crop will be attending the London Produce Show 2017

June 8, 2017. Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London.

Dr Sean Kitson will be on the Invest Northern Ireland stand with Gilfresh, on booths 217, 219, 221, 223, on June 8

Show Preview

Wasabi grower brings the “zing” to London Produce Show


Please ask for Dr Sean Kitson (Technical Director, Wasabi Crop)

Get a full picture of The London Produce Show and Conference 2016

London Produce Show – Looking Back @ 2016!

Wasabi Crop News


Wasabi Crop_Fresh Produce


Wasabi Crop_Belfast Telegraph


wasabi grown in NI


Tasty kick



Wasabi Crop_FDIN

More news articles to follow!


Wasabi Crop

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