How to grow wasabi

You Can Grow Wasabi In Your Back Yard

You Can Grow Wasabi in Pots

One option that is very successful for growing wasabi is to plant your wasabi starts in 1 to 2 gallon pots with good potting soil. Doing this gives you flexibility for when the weather turns too cold or too hot. When that happen happens simply bring your wasabi plant indoors.

So what is too hot or too cold? Glad you asked! See immediately below for that answer!

What Parts of the United States Can You Grow Wasabi In?

Wasabi can and does grow all over the United States!

What you need to watch out for is weather that is too either too hot or too cold.

If the weather gets over 80 degrees or under 32 degrees – simply bring your pots inside and keep them out of direct sunlight.

If the weather is going to be over 80 degrees for just a few days and then go back to being under 80 degrees, you can leave the plants outside as they can handle warmer weather for a couple of days.

The Myth of Wasabi Seeds

Sadly, many of the wasabi seeds that are sold today (especially online) are not real wasabi i.e.

Wasabia japonica, they are actually mustard seeds or seeds for “wasabi” mustard for arugula or seeds for “wasabi” arugula.
Please note neither “wasabi” mustard or “wasabi” arugula is real wasabi. One is a variety of mustard and the other is a variety of arugula.

There is a reason that the largest reputable US seed companies don’t sell wasabi seeds on their own websites.

Wasabi seeds are very rare because they are very difficult to harvest.

You are much better off simply getting wasabi plant starts and growing those.

Wasabi plants grow best in temperatures that fall between 45°F and 75°F (7°C to 24°C), and they don’t take well to large temperature fluctuations. If you live in an area where your year-round day and night temperatures stay within this range, you might be able to grow them without a greenhouse or a grow room.

Choose a well-shaded area. This spot shouldn’t get direct sunlight because these plants grow on the forest floors in the wild. This means that they should only get enough sunlight to make the leaves grow.

It’s best to plant under trees, or you can make a shade structure with a tarp or a sheet.

Dig up your soil patch with your roto-tiller or your shovel. Till the soil to a minimum depth of ten inches (25 cm). At this point, you want to work in 10 inches (25 cm) of compost to create a very healthy, rich growing soil.

Test your soil’s pH and adjust it until it’s between six and seven. This will ensure that you have the best growing environment possible.

Apply your fertilizer as directed by the label and work it into your soil. At this stage, you’ll want to ensure that your soil drains well. Water your soil until it’s soaked and watch how it drains.

If the water is very slow to absorb, work more compost into your soil. If the water drains straight away, it’s ready for your Wasabi.

Order your Wasabi seeds late in the fall if you’re ordering from online. These are more difficult to find in traditional greenhouses, so online is your best chance.

Ordering and planting them in the winter will give them all winter to establish their root systems. Give yourself a 48-hour window to plant them when they arrive.

Soak your seeds overnight in a shallow bowl of distilled water to soften the seed shells. This will make it easier for your seeds to germinate. Make rows in your growing patch around 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cm) apart.

These rows should be 2 inches (5 cm) deep and 2 inches (5 cm) apart.

Place one seed per hole and backfill the holes. Water the seeds liberally once they’re filled in and gently tamp the earth down. It’s very important that you keep your plants moist year-round because they are semi-aquatic plants.

If your plants are wilting, they’re not getting enough water. If you give them too much water, they can develop root rot.

Watch them carefully and adjust your watering system accordingly.

About Wasabi Plants: Can You Grow A Wasabi Vegetable Root

If you love sushi, then you are relatively familiar with the green paste provided as a condiment alongside the dish — wasabi. You may have wondered what this green stuff with a major kick really is and where it comes from. Let’s learn more about wasabi uses.

What is Wasabi?

The hot, delicious green paste is derived from the wasabi vegetable root. Wasabi vegetable root is a member of the Brassicaceae family, which includes cabbage, mustard and horseradish. In fact, wasabi is often referred to as Japanese horseradish.

Wasabi plants are native perennials found along stream beds in mountain river valleys in Japan. There are several varieties of wasabi and amongst them are:

  • Wasabia japonica
  • Cochlearia wasabi
  • Wasabi koreana
  • Wasabi tetsuigi
  • Eutrema japonica

Cultivation of growing wasabi rhizomes dates to at least the 10th century.

Growing Wasabi Plants

Wasabi grows best in loose, organic-rich, soil that is somewhat moist. It also prefers a soil pH between 6 and 7.

As for location, this is one of those veggies that you can actually place in a shady area of the garden, or even near a pond. Prior to planting, it is advised to soak the roots in cool water and remove any damaged leaves. Plant wasabi in spring once outdoor temps are about 50-60 F. (10-16 C.) and space plants about 12 inches apart.

Wasabi may also be planted in containers, using a 6-inch pot filled with organic-rich potting mix and then transplanting after a year to a 12-inch pot. To increase drainage, put sand in the bottom of

the pot.

Water wasabi plants thoroughly and frequently. Mulching around the plants will help retain soil moisture.

Prune back any wilted or unsightly leaves or stems on the plant. Control weeds throughout the growing season and check for pests such slugs and snails.

A slow release 12-12-12 fertilizer applied every three to four months is generally recommended when growing wasabi plants. Fertilizers high in sulfur are said to increase its flavor and spiciness.

Harvest the roots in the spring or autumn when temperatures are cool. Keep in mind that is normally takes about 2 years for the rhizomes to mature, or reach 4-6 inches in length. When harvesting wasabi, pull up the entire plant, removing any side shoots.

Wasabi needs to be protected from cold winter temperatures. In warmer areas, a generous application of mulch is sufficient. Those in colder regions, however, should grow wasabi in pots which can be moved to a sheltered location.

Wasabi Uses

Although the foliage of wasabi plants can be eaten fresh and are sometimes dried for use in other processed foods or pickled in sake brine or soy sauce, the root is the prize. The heat from the wasabi rhizome is unlike the capsaicin found in chili peppers. Wasabi stimulates the nasal passages more than the tongue, initially feeling fiery, and rapidly dissipating to a sweeter flavor without a burning sensation. The fiery properties of wasabi are not oil based like that in hot peppers, so the effect is relatively short and can be assuaged with other foods or liquids.

Some of wasabi’s uses are, of course, as a condiment with sushi or sashimi but it is also delicious in noodle soups, as a condiment for grilled meats and veggies, or added to dips, marinades and salad dressings.

When using fresh wasabi root, it is often grated just prior to eating, as it loses flavor within the first few hours. Or it is kept covered and, for sushi presentation, sandwiched between the fish and the rice.

Much of the green paste or powder we know as wasabi is, in fact, not wasabi root at all. Because wasabi plants require particular conditions for cultivation, the root is fairly pricey and the average gardener may have difficulty growing it. Therefore, a combination of mustard powder or horseradish, cornstarch and artificial coloring are often substituted for the real thing.

How to Prepare Wasabi Root

First, select an unblemished, firm root, wash it and then peel it with a knife. Grinding the root finely into a thick paste is the key to releasing the sharp flavor of wasabi. Japanese chefs use sharkskin to achieve this thick paste, but you can use the smallest holes on a metal grater, grating with a circular motion.

Cover the resultant paste with plastic wrap, let sit for 10-15 min. prior to use to develop flavor and then utilize within the next few hours. Any leftover root should be covered with damp towels and refrigerated.

Rinse the root in cool water every couple of days and check for any decay. A refrigerated wasabi rhizome will last about one month.

Wasabi Vs. Horseradish: SPICEography Showdown

Wasabi and horseradish are often recommended as substitutes for each other and you may already be aware that wasabi is sometimes referred to as Japanese horseradish. Does this mean that they are the same thing? No, it does not. In fact, they have some differences that you should understand before choosing one over the other. We will examine those differences and more in another SPICEography Showdown.

How does wasabi differ from horseradish?

The most obvious difference between these two condiments is the appearance of each. When prepared, wasabi has a pale green color; horseradish can range from beige to white. The next major difference is tricky—different parts of each plant are consumed. While both are often referred to as roots, wasabi is actually a rhizome. As for horseradish, the root really is the part of the plant that is used to make the condiment. Fresh wasabi has a more nuanced flavor and a milder heat that does not linger for as long as the heat from horseradish.

Despite being relatives, these two plants have geographically disparate beginnings in that wasabi comes from a Japanese plant while horseradish has its origins in Europe and Western Asia. Wasabi’s traditional use is largely confined to Japanese cuisine and the use of horseradish is primarily on European foods. Wasabi is much more difficult to cultivate than horseradish, which means that it is harder to find and more expensive in those places where it is available. Fresh wasabi rhizome is actually pretty rare outside of Japan; horseradish can be found in many American and European grocery stores.

Can you use wasabi in place of horseradish and vice versa?

Wasabi and horseradish are commonly recommended as substitutes for each other due to their similar flavor profiles. Consider the fact that the wasabi product sold in most grocery stores outside of Japan (also known as wasabi paste) consists mostly of horseradish with a little mustard and some green food coloring. This makes a prepackaged wasabi paste virtually identical in terms of flavor to prepared horseradish. When it comes to fresh wasabi vs fresh horseradish, the difference is a little more obvious but the two are still similar enough that each will work as passable substitutes for the other. Keep in mind that passable does not mean perfect. Sushi connoisseurs will be able to detect the difference easily.

The appearance may be the key obstacle when using wasabi in place of horseradish. While green food coloring can be added to horseradish to make it look like wasabi, the green color of wasabi cannot be removed to make it look more like horseradish. This means that in applications where a traditional appearance is important, wasabi will not make a good replacement for horseradish.

Wasabi powder and horseradish powder are virtually interchangeable. Note that most of the wasabi powder in the U.S. consists mostly of horseradish and mustard.

When should you use wasabi and when should you use horseradish?

While they are close to being perfectly interchangeable in terms of flavor, the best use for each is their respective traditional applications. Fresh wasabi is best used in sashimi, sushi, and other traditional Japanese dishes. It can also be used for western Japanese-style dishes to provide the note of authenticity. Horseradish is best used for applications like the cream sauce for British roast beef, where it will provide both the flavor and the classic appearance.

Wasabi: Why invest in ‘the hardest plant to grow’?

Image caption Blake Anderson shows off the wasabi plants in one of his three greenhouses on Vancouver Island in Canada

For nearly 30 years, Brian Oates has, in his words, “pig-headedly” devoted himself to a single pursuit: setting up the first commercial wasabi farm in North America.

Dozens of others in the US and Canada have tried to grow the plant – a type of horseradish that originates in Japan, where it is found growing naturally in rocky river beds – but almost all have failed.

The reason is simple: wasabi is deemed by most experts to be the most difficult plant in the world to grow commercially.

So what drives Mr Oates, and his business Pacific Coast Wasabi (PCW), other than his stated stubbornness?

The price.

Image caption At market rates, a kilogram of wasabi goes for around $160, making it one of the world’s most lucrative crops

Fetching nearly $160 (£98) per kilogram at wholesale, in addition to being hard to nurture, wasabi is also one of the most lucrative plants on the planet.

“It is much like gold – we expect to pay a lot for gold. Well, we expect to pay a lot for wasabi,” says Mr Oates.

The real thing

The first thing to know about wasabi – or Wasabia japonica, as it’s officially known – is that you have probably never tried the real thing.

That light green paste nestled next to the pink ginger in your box of sushi? It is most likely a mix of mustard, European horseradish, and food colouring.

In fact, by some estimates, only 5% of the wasabi served in Japanese restaurants around the world comes from the rhizome, or root, of a wasabi plant.

How to eat wasabi

Image copyright Thinkstock

The methods for eating real wasabi differ significantly from those of the powdered kind, particularly if the plant is fresh.

In its most traditional preparation, the root is stood on a grater made of a piece of sharkskin stapled to a wooden paddle. Using a circular, clockwise motion, one presses the rhizome down and a paste is formed.

The heat and flavour – significantly less bracing than imitation wasabi, but similarly sharp – last only for 10 to 15 minutes, so wasabi is grated as needed.

Nobu Ochi has been buying the wasabi Mr Oates produces from the beginning, and selling it to customers at his Zen Japanese restaurant in downtown Vancouver.

“We send the grater out with the wasabi in it, and let them have the experience of grating fresh wasabi,” says Mr Oichi.

“Once they taste it, like anything else that’s good, you don’t want to go back to the other stuff.”

Wasabi was initially used by the Japanese many centuries ago as a way of preventing illness: the story goes that it was used on raw fish to prevent food poisoning, not because of its spicy taste.

But because wasabi is grown in a manner unlike most other crops, it has long been mostly cultivated by the Japanese for the Japanese market.

“It’s a water loving plant, but it does not grow completely submerged in water like a water lily or something,” explains Prof Carol Miles, from the Department of Horticulture at Washington State University .

“In general, water flows over the crop, so it’s grown in water beds and that’s not something we commonly do in North America.”

Hatching a seed

In addition to wasabi’s unique cultivation, the problem for the would-be North American wasabi farmer has also been access – getting their hands on seeds or cuttings from which they can try to grow the plant.

Image caption Wasabi can be grown from both seeds or cuttings from a so-called “mother” plant

“Access to the plant material has really been the bottleneck,” says Prof Miles.

Mr Oates says he first became interested in farming wasabi in 1987, but it took him six years simply to get access to viable seeds from which he could grow the plant.

For years, he grew the crop in greenhouses on the University of British Columbia’s (UBC’s) campus in Vancouver, where he worked at the time, but kept running into problems.

Finicky wasabi, if exposed to too much humidity, would die; the wrong nutrient composition could lead to a similar fate.

And then, there was the problem of scale.

“There seems to be an understanding in agriculture that when you keep your crop small it’s fine, but then when it gets big all of these issues you didn’t have before rear their ugly faces,” says Mr Oates.

He notes in particular that wasabi is especially prone to disease when planted on a large scale.

But finally, after working with graduate students at UBC, he developed a method – which is now a trade secret – that allows wasabi to be cultivated on an industrial scale without succumbing to disease.

Money woes

Mr Oates then encountered an issue common to almost every start-up, from a farm to a technology business – where to find financing.

Image caption Brian Oates has pursued his dream of running a commercial wasabi operation since the 1980s

“There was no-one willing to take a risk on something as unknown as wasabi,” he says.

That forced him to embrace the model currently employed by PCW, which is essentially that of a franchise.

PCW’s first commercial farm opened on Vancouver Island in 2012, and it currently has nine in total – four in British Columbia, four in Washington State, and one in New York.

The farmers have each spent $70,000 to get a licence from Mr Oates, letting them in on the secret method to grow wasabi in greenhouses.

On average, each farm has then spent $700,000 per acre of wasabi just to get up and running.

Adding the fact that wasabi takes just over a year to mature means that the farmers have to be patient before the profits start to roll in.

‘The window’s open’

Blake Anderson and his wife, Jane, operate a successful PCW farm on Canada’s Vancouver Island.

Image caption Each acre of a wasabi farm costs approximately $700,000 to get up and running

In three greenhouses situated atop a hill, Mr Anderson has what many have long thought was impossible: a successful, commercially viable wasabi farm.

“This one was so big that I needed to get a shovel to get it out of the ground,” says Mr Anderson as he proudly holds up a gigantic wasabi root.

“You’ll need a football team to get the next harvest,” jokes Mr Oates, who has come to pick up some of Mr Anderson’s crop, so that it can be shipped to a network of suppliers, and then onto restaurants that will buy the wasabi for a price of up to $308 per kg.

A former truck driver, Mr Anderson says he was attracted by the challenge of wasabi.

Image caption Mr Anderson has three wasabi greenhouses on his property, built over the course of two years

Now, two years in, he says: “We’ve learned an awful lot, but we’re getting pretty good at it.” His 200g wasabi rhizomes are a testament to his success.

Whereas PCW previously had trouble keeping up with demand – leading to sporadic halts in orders as the company waited for crops to mature – Mr Oates now says he thinks the business can increase the total acres of wasabi it grows from 10 currently to 20 to 30 in the next few years.

Image caption The wasabi greenhouses are located in an idyllic part of Vancouver Island, a two-hour ferry ride away

“We’re in a different era now, where we can make this happen and we’re not worried about shutting down,” says Mr Oates.

“The opportunity’s there, the window’s open and it’s our job to make it happen.”

Potential health benefits

Now that the culinary side of the business has legs, Mr Oates and his colleague, Albert Agro, have hopes of expanding into pharmaceutical products.

Mr Agro, who is chief executive and president of Wasabia, the medical side of the business, says studies have shown that extracts of wasabi can have health benefits, such as anti-bacterial and stomach-calming properties, and the ability to help reduce wrinkles.

The difficulty, as with most plant-based medicines, is to produce enough wasabi consistently to be able to generate a product. There are efforts under way in New Zealand and China, and there are already some wasabi supplements available on the web.

Wasabia has plans to begin medical trials later this year in Malaysia, but Mr Agro says that the company is focused on the longer term, content to wait until there is enough data to back up a pharmaceutical product.

What is wasabi?

Wasabi, formerly known as wasabi japonica is a perennial herb, which commonly grows in mountain streams in Japan. It produces a green sap or paste when grated and did you know that it is actually a member of the same family as horseradish and cabbage which is why it is sometimes called the Japanese horseradish.

Wasabi is known for its strong, spicy, flavour or kick! Its flavour is similar to a hot mustard and is most commonly eaten as a condiment alongside Japanese food.

Health benefits of wasabi

Some of the health benefits of wasabi include:

  • Cancer prevention
  • Boosts heart health
  • Helps ease arthritis pain
  • Kills food-borne bacteria
  • Improves gut health

How to grow your own

Look to plant wasabi in Autumn as it takes around two years for wasabi to mature. But don’t worry it is easier to look after than you think. The green paste you eat today is derived from the wasabi root.

Plant your wasabi in full shade, 12 inches apart, if it is exposed to full sunlight the delicate leaves will wither and droop.

As wasabi traditionally grows in riverbeds, keep its roots wet and well-drained soil.

Cut back wilted leaves and stems and keep the ground free of weeds and pests.

Best climate

Wasabi plants thrive in warm, humid climates. Wet woodlands are the best places for wasabi to grow as they are humid but still damp.

How to use it?

Wasabi is traditionally used as a flavouring on the side of Japanese dishes but it also adds great flavour to sauces. Here are a couple of our favourite recipes.

Steak with mango & wasabi salsa

Quick and easy meal, certain to be a success at any dinner party. Get the full recipe.

Wasabi Salmon with Broccolini and Pumpkin

A healthy meal you can get on the table in minutes. Get the full recipe.

Wasabi Growing Guide

May 24, 2019 Around The FarmOGW Growing Guideswasabiwasabi growing guidewasabi plant

Most of the “wasabi” provided to customers in restaurants is primarily Horseradish root with green-colored food dye. The wasabi powder or packaged paste found in grocery stores have varying amounts of Wasabi mixed with Horseradish, so a lot of people have never really tasted real Wasabi root. Wasabi has a unique flavor and distinctive heat that is much richer than the horseradish-based paste. The usual “wasabi” pastes are essentially starch and heat and not really contributing flavor to the dish. Fresh, real wasabi has a deep vegetal flavor similar to asparagus or artichoke hearts; which is why it pairs so well with so many foods including steak, oysters, noodles, potatoes and of course, fish and sushi.

Cultivation: In its natural habitat you will find Wasabi growing on the shaded wet banks of cold mountain streams. When grown in a home garden Wasabi does best in full shade with steady temperatures between 50-60°F, although the Daruma variety is slightly more tolerant of heat and light. Temperatures below 40°F may slow growth and temperatures below 27°F can kill the entire plant. Temperatures above 80°F can begin to cause heat damage as well as increase the risk of pests and disease. So take this into consideration when selecting a planting site for your Wasabi. The most important tips to follow are providing year-round shade and plenty of summer watering.

Choose a well-drained location with sufficient organic matter. If you’re planting in a pot the container size should be 10 inches or larger (a 2.5-gallon minimum). Work in 10-12 inches of compost to a soil depth of 8-10 inches. Wasabi requires a neutral or slightly acidic soil pH of 6-7. Plant your start only deep enough to keep it upright. Being sure that all of the roots are covered, backfill the hole and gently press into place. Do not cover the rhizome, it needs to be exposed above the surface. Wasabi plants can reach 24 inches in height, so space plants at least 12 inches apart. Water well, but do not let the plant sit in drainage water. After initial planting irrigate regularly with cool water. Mist as necessary to keep plants cool and to avoid wilted leaves. Mulch may increase moisture retention, which will be especially beneficial during warmer months.

Leaves that have been wilted for a week or more should be removed to deter pests and lower the risk of disease. Keep the planting bed or containers weed free and fertilize regularly with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer. Fertilizers or foliar sprays rich in sulfur may improve the flavor of the rhizome.

Pests and Diseases: Wasabi is a member of the Brassica family. Pests and diseases of this family include aphids, cabbage, and alfalfa looper larva, crane fly larva, and slugs. The best defense against pests and disease is to maintain the cool temperatures and stable irrigation wasabi prefers. Pruning wilted or diseased foliage, hand removal of slugs or use of slug bait, and removal of aphids and other pests are beneficial to the plant’s health. Use caution when using any insecticidal soap or any other insecticides. If any fungal disease is detected it is recommended to remove the plant away from all others to try treating it, or dispose of the plant entirely. Copper spray can be useful in the presence of any fungal complications.

Harvesting: If conditions are optimal, within 24-36 months from the initial planting, you may harvest a four-inch or larger rhizome. In the meantime, you may harvest the petioles (leaf stems), leaves and flowers that bloom in the early spring. All parts of the plant are edible. However, overharvest of leaves can lead to slower rhizome growth.

The whole wasabi plant is edible. Enjoy harvesting and eating the leaves and leaf stems raw or cooked while you wait for your rhizome to grow! When your rhizome is ready to harvest it is recommended to hand dig the plant out of the ground or pot. You can then remove the plantlets that have formed around the crown to be potted or planted and expand your wasabi crop. Trim away the roots and stems and enjoy your fresh wasabi.

Shop Wasabi plants

Read more details about growing Wasabi in this WSU publication Growing Wasabi in the PNW

Wasabi

This Aloha Friday I wanted to feature my newly harvested wasabi plant. It grows exceptionally well in Volcano, and once it starts sprouting keikis (offspring), it is easy to separate into smaller pots and start growing even more. Rumor has it that wasabi is hard to grow, and in very high demand in Japan, so I’m fortunate that my plants are doing fairly well. They require loose, moist soil, and cool weather, and can be a little bit on the temperamental side. They have enjoyed all of this rainy weather we’ve been having and they do not like direct sunlight for too long. I also have the best success in pots as I’m able to move them around when necessary. If you can get your hands on some seeds or rhizomes, I recommend try growing your wasabi in pots first, so that you can control the environment better. For additional information about growing wasabi in the ground, Wikihow has a great tutorial at: https://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Wasabi.

Even though some critter snacked on the leaves, the stem is going strong and will be a nice one to harvest. Freshly picked wasabi

The wasabi plant is in a family of plants that include cabbage, Brussel sprouts and mustard. Wasabi is actually quite nutritious and contains healthy amounts of Potassium, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Calcium. There is a very interesting article from the BBC regarding the health benefits of real wasabi and one of the “benefits” mentioned included the ability to reduce wrinkles.

If you’ve eaten wasabi before, you’re not likely to forget the burning sensation in your nose and the instant, watery eyes. Perhaps the best part about eating wasabi is the signature burn. Sadly, fresh wasabi can be very difficult to find, and most ‘wasabi’ sold in supermarkets is really horseradish with green food coloring added. If you can get your hands on some fresh stuff, the best way to prepare it, is to take the stem and use a cheese grater with fine holes to grate the stem into a paste. Additionally, if you didn’t already know, fresh wasabi quickly loses it’s flavor and should be eaten within 15 minutes of grating. The wasabi plant leaves can also be consumed and are just as pungent and spicy as the stem.

If you can’t eat your fresh wasabi stem right away, you can store it in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper towel until use. If you cannot consume the refrigerated wasabi stem within a few weeks, dry the stem out completely, and then grind into a powder. The freshly picked stems don’t usually last long around my house and we eat them up before they can dry out, so I probably won’t get around to grinding it down to a powder. If there is a surplus of stems in the future, I may have to try drying some out to grind for my spice collection.

“Pack of 3 Wasabi Plants”- Grow indoor or outdoor. Advertisements

Real Wasabi Is One of the Most Expensive Crops on the Planet

Do you love wasabi with your sushi? We hate to break it to you, but the wasabi you usually eat is an impostor. It’s actually a powder consisting of dried horseradish and food coloring mixed with water. So why aren’t you getting the real deal with your Whole Foods and take-out sushi?

Fresh wasabi is insanely expensive because it’s incredibly difficult to grow on a commercial scale. In fact, wasabi is “deemed by most experts to be the most difficult plant in the world to grow commercially,” according to this BBC article.

At prices around $160 per kilogram (2.2 lbs), wasabi is also one of the most lucrative plants on the planet. (We’re only talking about plants that aren’t considered controlled substances here.)

Just how difficult is wasabi to grow? Even in Japan—where you might expect people to be growing their own personal wasabi supplies in even the tiniest of capsule apartments—it’s so difficult to grow that commercial supplies are scarce.

According to the National Post, wasabi’s natural habitat is mountainous regions in Japan. Commercial farms in Japan have basically mimicked that habitat, choosing to grow wasabi plants by flooding mountain water over crops growing in gravel stream beds. Scaling wasabi up to commercial levels also means disease is a huge problem.

A few companies in North America are trying to grow the real deal. Among them are Pacific Coast Wasabi and Frog Eyes Wasabi, both of which are using greenhouses for greater crop control. Pacific Coast Wasabi president and chief science officer Brian Oates told the National Post, “For some reason, the Japanese still don’t believe you can grow it in a greenhouse—even those that buy from us.”

This video from the Oregonian and Frog Eyes Wasabi explains the intricacies of growing wasabi in greater detail.

Fresh wasabi grown in Oregon from Thomas Boyd on Vimeo.

RELATED: 15 Common Sushi Myths, Debunked

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