Growing Wasabi in Northern Ireland
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.