picking wasabi leaves and stems

Fresh Wasabi is an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It is a rare condiment to be found. However, this fiery and zingy herb is being grown commercially in County Armagh, Northern Ireland for the first time by Wasabi Crop.  This venture was set up by Dr Sean Kitson and his son Zak (it was Zak’s idea to grow Wasabi) to produce wasabi plants in order to produce rhizomes.  Over the past few years, we have had several newspaper articles, TV and radio appearances about growing fresh Wasabi on the island of Ireland.  We have been busy promoting fresh Wasabi which is considered one of the world’s most expensive crops.  Our ultimate goal is to export our wasabi rhizomes to Japan.

Fresh Wasabi grown in County Armagh

During one of our promotional trips, we showcased our large wasabi plants at the London Produce Show to give other traders opportunities to sample the fresh wasabi leaves and stems. After the show, we left one of the wasabi plants at the Grosvenor House Hotel where it was shown off to both the clients and chefs who were fascinated by it.

wasabi crop at the London Produce Show
Wasabi Crop exhibiting at the London Produce Show

The amazing fact about Wasabi is that it has bacterial properties and is extremely rich in antioxidants that can help boost the body’s immune system by removing harmful toxins.

The origins of this herb are found in the mountain streams of the Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan.  It flourishes when its roots are in flowing sparkling water from the snow slopes of Mount Fuji, known to be Japan’s most sacred mountain.  Indeed, wasabi cultivation can be traced back to the ancient Japanese who were consuming the wasabi plant around 14,000 BC.

Today, Wasabi is mostly grown in Japan, where it has become famous through its association with sushi.  However, Wasabi has interesting botany and is known as wasabia japonica, a member of the Brassica family.  Other members of this family are horseradish, mustard and cabbage.

The most valuable part of the wasabi plant is the rhizome: this is a swollen stem.  This stem grows above the ground and takes over 2 years to mature. 

Wasabi Rhizomes – King of the Herbs

Freshly grated Wasabi can be a valuable addition to various recipes and other foodstuffs, including ice cream and vodka.  The rhizome can be freshly grated into a wasabi paste and used to suit your cuisine.  At Wasabi Crop we have mastered the cultivation of real Wasabi whereas there is currently a vast amount of fake Wasabi sold in supermarkets and restaurants.  Fresh Wasabi has an intense, hot flavour which is different from chilli and produces a wasabi kick which results in a zingy and refreshing hot flavour on the tongue.

Wasabia japonica is known as the King of the Herbs. This medicinal plant conveys many health benefits due to its allyl isothiocyanate, which is released during the grating process—this natural compound has antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiparasitic properties. 

In addition, Wasabi is a good source of dietary fibre, vitamin C and vitamin B6 and calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese.  At Wasabi Crop, you can buy the wasabi plant, including rhizomes, leaves and stems including edible wasabi flowers.

If you are interested, you can listen to Wasabi Crop talking about growing Wasabi on the island of Ireland when they appeared on the Ray D’Arcy radio show.

Ear to the Ground films at Wasabi Crop

Furthermore, Wasabi Crop made some TV appearances on Ear to the Ground when Ella McSweeney visited wasabi farmers Dr Sean Kitson and his son Zak to harvest some rhizomes.

James Martin TV show visits Wasabi Crop

Then in Summer 2019, we had a visit from James Martin and Paul Rankin when they discovered real Wasabi was being cultivated in County Armagh.  During the show, James cooked with fresh wasabi rhizomes which were dug up from our Wasabi Crop growing facility.  These rhizomes were used to prepare a mountain view salmon dish overlooking the dramatic backdrop of Slieve Gullion, which is the highest point in County Armagh.

Over the last few years, Wasabi Crop has been in the news about growing fresh wasabi on the island of Ireland. We have been busy promoting fresh wasabi.

Armagh food tours visiting wasabi crop
Tours and Trails of County Armagh visiting Wasabi Crop

Wasabi Crop makes the news

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