Here at Hillside Gardens in Auburn, Ga., we grow about 150 different kinds of herbs, mostly medicinal but many with multiple uses.
It’s the season for Perilla herb.
It’s in the mint family, is a self seeding plant that easily naturalizes, is delicious and edible as well as medicinal. Here is a good site to understand its medicinal properties: https://www.theartofhealing.com.au/herbs-perilla.html
It is loaded with minerals and vitamins, so it’s good to increase the nutritional value of anything you put it with in cooking. It is anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, asthma, is a nervine – i.e. for nervous disorders like anxiety, depression, insomnia etc., GI complaints, allergies, anti-oxidant (helps neutralized free radicals), etc. (read the above article).
It has been used to help keep foods sterilized and preserved. So, using it in canning and in pickles is traditional in Japan and other Asian food.
And it comes in various colors and variations of flavor.
Someone asked for ways to use it because it can be very prolific. Here are some of my favorite ways:
Dry it and mix with roasted sesame for a wonderful sprinkle on rice dishes. Make a tea of it, it’s delicious – I mix it with sweet mint and lemon balm for a relaxing tea and play with it for flavors. It’s highly medicinal and can be mixed with other herbs for immune boosting and many other things. Do your research.
The Japanese pickle it with tiny plums called Oomiboshi, which is delicious and a digestive aid. And it can be pickled by itself or put into vinegars for salads or other culinary uses. It’s considered an aromatic herb. It also can be tinctured for the medicinal properties.
The larger leaves can be lightly steamed to make them limp, then used as a wrap for rice and veg or meat dishes – this is a Korean treat. It is great in stir fry. I put it in salads (the smaller leaves). I use it in various Japanese dishes like Shabu Shabu or Somen Noodles as one of the side additives to the dish.
I grow three kinds – purple, Korean Sesame green, and curly leaf which is between those two in color and slightly more spicy flavored. I usually do a large harvest just before the flowers start to mature to keep the seeding down to a dull roar.
It’s one of the ingredients in my immune boosting tea and makes a nice Christmas gift.
I must say that this is one of my all time favorite herbs. It is used a lot in Oriental cooking and medicine, and luckily once it gets established, it’s a freely seeding, self seeding annual.
It can be invasive but if you pick the flowers before they become seeds in the garden, you can keep it to a minimum. Just leave a nice plant to seed, let the seed stems dry (you can put a net bag over them to control the spread), so you don’t loose it for next year.
Enjoy this wonderful member of the mint family. All of this family help digestion and are edible so just do your research. If you need seeds, PM me on FB.