About Ashitaba, a healthy vegetable From Japan in the Far East

about ashitaba

'If a leaf is plucked today, it will sprout a new one tomorrow.' The Ashitaba(明日葉) is written in kanji with such a meaning. In English, it's tommorow's leaf. In fact, it won't sprout in a day or two. However, the Ashitaba has such vitality that it can be compared to that.
I would like to share about Ashitaba, which has such a vigorous vitality.

Self-introduction

Noritsugu Himezaki

I moved to Hachijo-jima in March 2015 to grow Ashitaba at the foot of Mt.Hachijo-Fuji.

Instagram@ashitabahime

What is Ashitaba?

The Ashitaba (Angelica keiskei) is a perennial plant of the Ashitaba (Angelica) genus of the Apiaceae family native to Japan. It grows naturally along the seashore and in the mountains such as the Izu Islands, Boso Peninsula, Miura Peninsula, Izu Peninsula, and Kii Peninsula. On Hachijojima, where I live, it grows naturally and is cultivated. Due to the warm Kuroshio current, Hachijojima has a climate that is relatively warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and a significant amount of annual rainfall.

Climate of Hachijojima where I live : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hachijo-jima

Types of Ashitaba

Broadly speaking, there are two types of petioles, one with green color and the other with red, but there are also intermediate colors.

About the growth of Ashitaba

For the Ashitaba, it is said that the optimal temperature for germination is 15℃ to 20℃, and the optimal temperature for growth is approximately 20℃. Growth is suppressed under strong sunlight, high temperatures, and low temperature. It dislikes excessively strong sunshine. In summer when the temperature exceeds 25℃, the growth will wane, and if the temperature exceeds 30℃ for an extended period and dried, the color of the leaves will fade. Also, when the minimum temperature drops below 5℃, growth is hindered, making sprouting more difficult.

It usually germinates and continues to grow for 2 to 5 years, and after becoming an old plant, the flower blooms and seeds will develop.

Mixed cultivation with Alnus sieboldiana

Alnus sieboldiana is a deciduous tree whose roots coexist with rhizobia.

How to Harvest Ashitaba
We usually harvest the soft new leaves (glossy leaves) which have begun to open or almost fully opened. Cut back the stem, leaving about 5cm from the base of the stem. When you harvest, make sure that the plants always have more than two old stems. Once the oldest stem have withered, leave time between harvests. Harvest new stem always leaving more than two old stems. I recommend to harvest in spring or autumn when Ashitaba is in its most active growth phase.

Ashitaba is rich in nutrition

The nutrients of the Ashitaba are rich in vitamin A(retinol activity equivalents etc.) , vitamin E(alpha-Tocopherol etc.) , vitamin K, folate, vitamin C(ascorbic acid) , minerals, and dietary fiber. As a characteristic ingredient, there is the chalcone, a type of polyphenol. It is a yellow pigment that oozes from the cut end of the stem.

Reference:STANDARD TABLES OF FOOD COMPOSITION IN JAPAN - 2015 - (Seventh Revised Edition) 
https://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/syokuhinseibun/1365297.htm (English version of Excel data is available.)
The Item No. for ashitaba is 06005.

How to eat ashitaba deliciously

Also, the Ashitaba leaves have a unique bitterness and aroma. For those concerned about the bitterness and aroma, boiling in water for about 1 minute and exposing to cold water will alleviate the attributes. As it goes well with oil, tempura and stir fry are recommended.