"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

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

39 comments:

Geno said...

In kimchi? That sounds good. I have only ever used it in pickled ginger (shisho). It is a beautiful plant.

Anonymous said...

I have a question not related to this post. Have you ever grown gobo, also called Japanese burdock? It's listed in the Richters seed catalog (www.richters.com)and described as a "Japanese vegetable with potent medicinal properties. Slender, smooth-skinned roots up to 40" long have a delightful oyster-like flavour similar to salsify, but stronger. ... Japanese research shows that this variety has potent anti-tumour effects. Commonly used as a blood purifier." I would like to try growing it and wondered if you have ever tried it, and if you had any success with it. THank-you, Geraldine

L:ynnS said...

Interesting post on an uncommon edible, Mike!! I have heard of Shiso but never grown it before. Maybe next year...

Like you, having something new in the garden is such fun. Leafy greens and roots are under-rated and under-utilized and yet both are packed full of nutrients. I always get a kick out of seed catalogs every winter, searching for something new or different and like others, I am always lured to try just one more plant!

Julie said...

Discovering new plants, and new uses for them, tickles me too. Maybe one morning soon you and Mrs. H can read about shiso tea here:

http://kokonuggetyumyum.blogspot.com/2006/09/home-made-shiso-drink.html

as you sip from steaming mugs of coffee ; )

Mrs. Mac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. Mac said...

Your red shiso plant makes a beautiful ornamental looking plant as well. Do you think it's deer proof? If so, it would be a nice border plant. To anonymous about burdock .. I have several recipes that include this .. but have never seen it. I had no idea is had such good medicinal properties as well. In soups calling for it, I substitute parsnips (don't ask why;)

goingtoseed said...

Did your shiso go to seed?

This summer, I grew some Korean Shiso from a friend. Started it in the greenhouse, planted it out around June 1st, harvested a few leaves for kimchi and waited waited waited for some flowers ... The plant started to flower at the end of September and then frost!

I had been hoping to save some seed as I don't know if I will be able to find the variety again. I think there might be a bit of seed left in the bottom of an envelope for next year ...

Julie's Shiso drink sound good!

Ruralrose said...

I have tried to grow this too and it never finishes, will start indoors this year for sure. I have a "red pigsweed" that is super yummy, do you have this one? Your kimchi sounds very interesting, would make a lovely tutorial, ;) Thanks for your help my squash finished just fine off the vine. My grapes are still not ripe, the cherry leaves didn't turn red this year, but the pears did - with the jet stream split what will happen this winter will be interesting. Peace

meemsnyc said...

What a pretty plant. I'm so impressed that you make your own kimchi!! Wow!! Do you have a recipe that you would like to share?

Heiko said...

Woah! Never heard of this one. Any chance of some seeds with my Heiko tomato seed?

Emma said...

They look lovely :) Glad you've found a new plant you love. I have some Shiso seeds for next year, but I think they may be the green variety, so we can compare notes!

villager said...

I've grown perilla the last few years as an ornamental, but never used the leaves in cooking. I will have to give that a try!

Mr. H. said...

Geno - This year I mostly wanted to see if it would grow for us and how it tasted. I "think" it might be an excellent addition to kimchi. Pickled ginger sounds good.:)

Geraldine - How neat, we have wild burdock growing around here but I have yet to try eating or using the root...it is on my to do list. We do grow salsify and scorzonera in the garden, I would imagine that burdock would grow in a similar manner. I am going to dig it up and try the root the next time I come across one...you got me interested.

Also, if they are anything like salsify and scorzonera remember to double dig your bed and be very patient with their slow germination.

Lynn - It was a interesting plant to grow and I was amazed at how extreme the fishy cumin like flavor is. I dried one leaf and it retained all of the flavor, wish I would have remembered to dry them all before frost. At least I know it is not frost hardy.:)

Shiso is a member of the mint family, so is coleus. While reading about shiso I discovered that coleus leaves are also edible, although they are said to be a hallucinogenic if eaten in large amounts..so I probably won't be adding to many of them to our salads.:)

Julie - How neat, I had no idea these leaves could be made into a tea. I know that Mrs. H will love experimenting on me with this.:) Seriously though, thank you so much for sharing this link, now I really regret not paying more attention to the shiso this year and look forward to using it in this manner next summer.

Mrs. Mac - I do not think that there is any such thing a s a deer proof plant. The little buggers got at our little fruit trees the other night and nibbled on everything. The one time I left the gate open and they took advantage of it. I may have to add venison to my diet.

There is burdock growing all over the place on the other side of the lake, Rowdy always gets the "bur" seed pods stuck in his fur when we go running...I'm going to dig one up and try it soon.

Goingtoseed - Our plants had just started to almost flower before frost got to them, the seeds are supposed to taste good too. So, like you I will be searching for more seed. Johnny's sells both the green and red, that is where I will try to get mine I suppose.

http://www.johnnyseeds.com/c-200-shiso.aspx

Ruralrose - We only have the wild green pig-weed growing around here, perhaps my Hopi Red Dye Amaranth will cross with it some day? I did a post on Kimchi a while back - http://subsistencepatternfoodgarden.blogspot.com/search?q=kimchi

That said, the kimchi we have been making of late is much different in that we have been adding amaranth leaves, Italian chicory, hot peppers, and many other things. So I suppose I will have to do a post on our updated version one of these days.

We just pulled in the last of our grapes to finish ripening in the house before freezing them...we don't have every many though. It's going to be a rough winter I think.

Meemsnyc - You can see one of my older kimchi recipes at - http://subsistencepatternfoodgarden.blogspot.com/search?q=kimchi

Like I told Ruralrose, it has changed quite a bit as we now add many more things like amaranth, Italian chicory, red cayenne pepper, and even some kale in the latest batch. I will have to do an updated post on it one of these days.

Heiko - I don't have any more shiso seeds right now but am looking forward to sending your special tomatoes seeds out one day soon. If I do come up with more shiso before I send you your tomatoes I will happily include them.:)

Check out the drink that Julie told me about in her comment, doesn't that sound interesting - http://kokonuggetyumyum.blogspot.com/2006/09/home-made-shiso-drink.html

Emma - After reading about Julie's drink I think perhaps I will try to grow both colors...how fun. Here it is not even winter yet and I am chomping at the bit for spring and summer gardening adventures...patience Mike, patience.:) I look forward to comparing notes with you on this plant.

Mr. H. said...

Villager - It does make a nice ornamental, you will have to try using a small amount in any recipe that calls for cumin, we found that it was a nice addition to our stir fry dishes. I am really looking forward to experimenting with it some more next season. Summer just never lasts long enough around here.:)

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Hi Mr. H, looking at your shiso, I might have a go growing them next year. I thought of growing them this year but I forgot to order the seeds. Thank you for the celery freezing link.

Kumi said...

We grow and use green shiso in cold dishes, but never tried it in a stir fry nor kimchi! Must try next time. My mom used to use red shiso to add color and flavor to plum pickles she made, and I loved the shiso in it more than the plum.
I wish we had gobo root growing here, too. I rarely buy them at the store anymore, as they are usually dried up.

mac said...

Nice healthy and pretty plant you have there, once you grow a shisho it reseeds itself year after year, it may drive you crazy later(like mint).

I grow both red and green shisho, the green leaf variety is milder, I like to use it for kimchi and salads. The red shisho leaves are dried for drinks, pickles, garnishes, and seasonings.

Amy said...

Huh, interesting. I will have to give it a shot sometime. Also, I've posted a link on my recommended varieties page.

Mr. H. said...

Malay-Kadazan girl - I am thinking of trying both the red and green shiso next year now that I know a little more about the plant. I hope that you get a chance to try them too, they might add a little spice to that wonderful crab dish you make.:)

Kumi - I am going to have to try pickling some plums with shiso, I have never had a pickled plum but it sounds like they might be good that way. I am also looking forward to trying the gobo root. We have been reading up on it in one of our herb books and it does indeed sound like a very beneficial and healthful herb.

Mac - Thanks for the information, I hope that it does easily re-seed itself in the future...I like plants that establish themselves in that manner. We are very excited to try growing it again next year, especially now that we know more about how to use it.

Amy - I hope you do try growing it and think that it is great how you are setting up your new website...very informative.

Greenside Up said...

I was just looking through your blog and it's one of the best I've come across. I especially love the quote "a fair weather gardener is not a master of his craft"!

Sense of Home said...

I have never heard of this plant, let alone eaten it. I love trying new plants in my garden, keeps it interesting. If I wasn't so short on space I would have all kinds of new, interesting plants to sample. This one though looks like it could pass for a "decorative" plant and go in the front yard.

-Brenda

Mr. H. said...

Greenside Up - I have always liked that quote by Henry Ellacombe as it is so very true. That picture was from 2008 when we had over 100" of snow and still picked a salad throughout the winter...I thought the quote and picture went together pretty well.:) Thank you for your very kind comments.

Brenda - I first heard of this plant about 3 years ago and finally got around to growing it. Yes, it is very decorative with it's dark foliage. I am so glad we gave it a shot and hope to grow it again next season.

Faith said...

Wow. Shiso is so pretty. Probably good for cutting and making a house plant. Really super delicious in fresh rolls.

Mr. H. said...

Faith - I wish we had more light in our house during the winter, growing shiso as a housplant is a great idea.:)

kitsapFG said...

I am interested to know how large of a plant it grows into? It certainly is pretty and might make a nice addition to a front porch large container planting of ornamental edibles I was thinking about growing next year.

I always learn about such interesting new plants (new to me anyways!) through your blog!

Ms. Adventuress said...

Amazing. You two really do find what you need, right from Mother Nature. Well done.

(And so glad you like accessing Gabriel Cousens' blog...yay!)

Mr. H. said...

Laura - I think it would be a nice plant to use as an edible ornamental. Ours grew well in partial sun and got about 3' tall. The plant in the picture is actually 3 plants if I remember right.

Ms. Adventuress - I was very excited to see that Gabriel Cousens had a blog as I enjoy reading his thoughts on health and nutrition. I'm so glad you posted that article the other day.:) -

http://msadventuress.blogspot.com/2010/10/blossom-wildly-sunflower.html

Ohiofarmgirl said...

is THAT was that is..i mean.. WAS?? dang. i found it growing in the back of the garden the previous owners had... and i ripped it right out of there and threw it on the ground.

sheesh.
:-(

Mr. H. said...

Shame on you.:) Perhaps it had a chance to re-seed and one will pop up somewhere on the farm one of these days.

Laura said...

I grew red, green and Korean shiso this year. I love the plant and love the taste all three are different. I use the leaves to wrap pieces of chicken and fry or to make small spicy rice parcels baked and to flavour stuffing for achoca and to make shiso maki. I missed out picking the last leaves this year as we had a - one night only early frost and I lost the lot - but did dave the seeds - i would have pickled them in soy and vinegar and dried some to use to flavour rice.

Mr. H. said...

Laura - This is really neat, I am hoping to grow both green and red varieties this next season. Thanks for the tips on how you incorporate them into your meals. Your thoughts on using them as a flavoring for rice sounds like a something we would really enjoy.

Laura said...

I Have seeds of all three type if you want some.

Mr. H. said...

Laura - Thank you so much for the offer but we are very fortunate in that there is a small seed supply store not too far from where we live and we were able to find both a green and red variety in their herb section today. They are 2009 seeds but should be fine for next year.

I was surprised that the green variety was listed as having the stronger flavor. It will be very interesting to compare the two.

AJK said...

Your Cabbages look awesome!!! The Kimchi looks delicious! I LOVE Shiso! Japanese use it to color Ume. They pickle the ume and use the Shiso to color the plum and give it a nice aroma as well. They use it to color pickled cukes too (Shibazuke)!

http://www.justhungry.com/homemade-umeboshi-japanese-pickled-plums

Mr. H. said...

AJK - Thanks for the link that looks like a very interesting way to use shiso. I might have to try that next year when we have both plums and shiso...how fun.

AJK said...

Oh! Side note on the Umeboshi (pickled plums) They are a specific type of plum (Ume) more closely related to apricots. But I suppose unripe regular plums would do the trick. I think the aroma and flavor may be different if you use a sweet plum. Good luck!

Mr. H. said...

AJK - Thanks, I just did some reading on ume plums, they even look like apricots and have a fascinating history...really interesting.

ski said...

do you know where I can get some red or green shiso plant seeds?

Mr. H. said...

Ski - We bought ours locally but unfortunately this years seed was bad or I messed up as none of it germinated. I might try to purchase some more from Johnny's Selected Seeds - http://www.johnnyseeds.com/search.aspx?SearchTerm=shiso
They carry both green, red, and a mix.

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