This is a blog post on growing and harvesting perilla leaves. Perilla also is known as the Japanese beefsteak plant or Perilla frutescens. It is grown as a bedding plant in the UK. But not many know that this plant is edible. It is sold in Japanese grocers fro quite a lot of money. Perilla is used for wraps like in my recipe of Vietnamese beef wrap recipe. Using it instead of betel leaves. The matured leaves do taste bitter raw but once cooked they taste like any other greens. They also change color to green when cook. there are many culinary uses for perilla like cooking in like tempura.
Growing and Harvesting Perilla
Perilla comes in different varieties the green , purple and two-tone variety ones. I have only grown the purple ones. they stand out well in the garden.
To get growing perilla is to get hold of young bedding plants in the garden center or buy seeds. They are easily grown from seeds. Start sowing then in March and April under covers. Plant them out when the risk of frost is over. Grow Perilla in a sunny spot in a well-drain soil. Plant them apart. They can be grown in a shady spot but the yield is much less. Meaning the leaves wouldn’t be as big as grown in the sun. they take about 2 months to fully grow. I didn’t experience any flowers at all. If there is any remove them so as not to use the plant to produce seeds instead of leaves. Perilla is relatively free from diseases.
Harvesting when the leaves are nice and big. Just pick them as they grow big so as to allow the plant to produce more leaves. I use them for wraps in my Vietnamese beef wrap recipe. Leaves can also be pickled. In Japan, it is used to flavour all manners of sushi, soup and rice dishes.