Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Red Shiso - A Plant Worth Growing
Each year we try to grow a few new varieties of edible plants with the hope that we will find something that proves to be a valuable asset to our food garden. We have been surprised at how many of these "experimental" plants have found a permanent, sometimes prominent, place in our gardens. Take tomatillos and amaranth for example, two plants that 10 years ago I did not even know existed and today would not consider being without. Amaranth leaves find their way into stir frys, salads, kimchi, the list goes on. Tomatillos comprise a large portion of the salsa we make each year and are easily canned or frozen for future use. Suffice to say, we have found quite a few useful herbs, berries, and vegetables that seem to thrive in our gardens, all of which at one point in time were very much "new to us."
This experimenting with different plants is one of the things that helps keep the whole gardening and food self-sufficiency endevour fresh and exciting. One of the new plants that we grew this year was called Red Shiso (perilla). This beautiful maroon colored herb has a multitude of culinary, medicinal, and other uses that you can read all about at http://www.apinchof.com/shiso1119.htm. With its strong cuminesc like flavor I am hoping to use it as a colorful addition to our kimchi next year. I was going to dry the leaves off this year's plants but unfortunately frost took them from us before I had a chance. We did enjoy it's strong flavor in many a stir fry throughout the late summer months though.
This picture was taken in mid August, the leaves turned much darker as the cooler months arrived.
This September 29th photo shows the much darker leaves