Harvest time is here! We are pulling out bushels of fresh veggies every week, not to mention all the pears we are picking. This week we harvested lettuce, two kinds of kale, chard, carrots, radishes, celery, leeks, onions, basil, and purple and green shiso.
“What is shiso”, you ask? Shiso, pronounced she-so, is the Japanese name for an annual herb called perilla, which belongs to the mint family. Shiso comes in green or purple leaves with a slightly prickly texture and pointy, jagged edges, and it has a unique and vibrant taste that I could describe as herbaceous and citrusy. Like most leafy herbs, I find it is best used raw, the leaves whole or chiffonaded. The green variety produces more tender and more flavorful leaves than the purple variety, but the latter makes up for that with a potent dyeing action: it is what gives umeboshi its color.
Shiso is used in many asian cuisines, though most typically with Japanese dishes. It can be used anywhere mint or basil are called for. Some yummy suggestions include adding it to rice or soba noodles, sprinkling over tofu, adding it in a cucumber salad with rice vinegar, or in spring rolls. You can also make a pesto with it and put it on pasta, serve it with sashimi and rice, or try it with chicken stuffed with chopped umeboshi with soy sauce glaze. At Sakura Ridge, I use it in the Bento Box breakfast, perfect for days that it’s too hot to cook! Anyway you make it, it is sure to add a fresh, herb flavor to your meal.
Christmas came a little bit early at Sakura Ridge with the preparation of Krumkake, a traditional Norwegian christmas cookie. We had some friends visiting from Seattle that shared my Scandinavian background and they wanted to help make a batch.
Krumkake, or Krum kaka, is a norwegian waffle cookie made of flour, butter, eggs, sugar and cream. I use a special decorative 2-sided griddle to make the pattern and then roll them around a cone shaped rolling pin. They are usually filled with sweet cream or savory filling. Skol!
We are busy gearing up for pear harvest which will hopefully start this weekend. John is staging fruit bins in the orchard, the tractors are all tuned up, and the semi is ready to haul our fruit to the packing house to await their turn to be packed and shipped out. Most of the fruit from Sakura Ridge heads to small natural food stores up and down the west coast, to the midwest, and all points in between.
Starkrimson is the first variety to come off the trees. It is a summer pear, meaning that it will be one of the first ones at the market during the August to January pear season. All pears need some ripening time once they are picked. Summer pears, like the Starkrimson, ripen at room temperature without a long period in cold storage that winter pears require. It is also one of the few pears that change color as they ripen, turning from deep crimson to a brilliant crimson red. Their bright color and mild, sweet flavor make them perfect for fresh use in salads, on a cheese plate or with your morning cereal. Check out this link for more pear info and recipes!