We are excited to harvest our red shiso (also known as Japenese Basil). We like unique garden ideas. We like to plant things that not everyone has in their garden. I love red shiso because it adds color to the garden, as you can see in the picture below. One of the other nice things about red shiso is that it can be a perennial plant, depending on your climate. That means you plant it once and don’t have to plant it again. It comes back the next year, all by itself! No work from you! And it multiplies! Last year we planted two plants. This year we wound up with thirty-five plants without planting any! I was amazed. (Don’t worry – if you get too many of them you just pull them.)
Be sure when you harvest your red shiso that the plant is dry. Harvesting from a wet plant can encourage mold infections. When you prune (or pinch off) the leaves, do it at the stem. Avoid leaving stubs so that new leaves can come in from that same spot. When pruning you shouldn’t take more than 1/3 or so of the plant at a time. If you take much more than that, the plant may not recover well from pruning.
Here’s a better picture of the front and back of a red shiso leaf. The one on the right is the back of the leaf. I love that purplish color! That leaf is ready to harvest.
Here’s a nice bowl of red shiso leaves that we picked. They don’t just add color to your garden, they add color to the dinner table, too! What do you do with them, you ask? Well…lots of things, actually! If you google red shiso recipes or search for them on Pinterest, you will see that there are plenty! You can cook with them, infuse them into a beverage, in salads, etc. They are kind of sweet (relative to other herbs…but not like a cookie!).
It is important to keep in mind that if you notice the red shiso getting a flower, you should prune the flower off of the plant right away. If you don’t, the plant will “go to seed” and that ends the life cycle. No matter what you do, the plant will eventually go to seed, but you want to put that off for as long as you can with careful pruning. It is an herb that requires a bit of attention, just like when you are harvesting cilantro.
Keep red shiso in mind when you want to do a little garden cooking for your dinner table! How is your garden harvest going?
See you next time!