Irish Wasabi gets the green light for foodservice industry

Monday, February 13, 2023. 1:48pm
McCormack Family Farms to grow Wasabi at a commercial scale in Ireland for first time

McCormack Family Farms to grow Wasabi at a commercial scale in Ireland for first time

Today, McCormack Family Farms has announced that it will supply Irish wasabi at a commercial scale for the first time in Ireland. The distinctive Japanese plant, which is notoriously difficult to grow, will now be available in large quantities for use in Irish restaurants and by food processors. Working closely with plant-based food and crop development specialists Beotanics, McCormack Family Farms was able to secure supply of premium quality, and a sustainably grown strain of wasabi from Japanese breeding lines, which were developed to be suitable for the Irish climate. Beotanics Irish Wasabi will be presented by McCormack Family Farms at Catex, Ireland’s largest foodservice and hospitality event, which returns to the RDS, Dublin 21st – 23rd February. Interested parties are invited to contact McCormack Family Farms for further details and availability.

Irish Wasabi

Wasabi is a member of the brassica family, known primarily for its enlarged stem, sometimes referred to as a Rhizome. This is traditionally prepared into a paste and served as a condiment, however all parts of the plant are edible and have favourable culinary uses. The flower is used mainly as a garnish in food and beverages, along with its small leaves. The flower stem can be used in condiments, pickling, in salads or prepared as a vegetable. The leaf and petiole can also be used as a garnish, salad ingredient and within Japanese cuisine is traditionally pickled. The rhizome is ground to a fine paste and served a la minute with sushi or in fish dishes but is increasingly popular in fusion cuisine. Sourcing wasabi paste in Ireland has had a potted history, with inconsistencies prevalent in product quality. Artificial colourings or other ingredients often are added to bulk out products available. The edible parts of the wasabi plant are available at different times of year:  The Wasabi flower is available from February to March, the Petiole (stem that hold the baby leaf) is in-season from March – May and October – November. After 18 months, the Rhizome (stem) is ready to harvest.

McCormack Family Farms to grow Wasabi at a commercial scale in Ireland for first time

Speaking about the new product, Stephen McCormack, Managing Director McCormack Family Farms said, “We are always looking for new innovations that we can bring to our farm, and to market, and so we are delighted to announce that we will be supplying premium Irish-grown wasabi to foodservice customers all over the country. Wasabi is one of the most challenging crops to cultivate and harvest, so it took a many years to get things just right. We know that chefs are always looking for unique and seasonal ingredients to elevate their menus, and we look forward to being able to provide this much sought-after ingredient from a sustainable, and quality local source”.

Green-fingered innovation

Beotanics, an Irish plant-based food and crop development specialist, has expertise in cultivating rare and exotic edible plant varieties within Ireland and internationally and they developed a partnership with an 11th generation wasabi farming family in Utogi to source the best possible strain of wasabi. While Beotanics had cultivated wasabi successfully since 2015, the first crops harvested were of a very small volume as the varieties suitable for growing in Ireland were being perfected. In order to increase the scale of produce, McCormack Family Farms was identified as a partner to bring the ingredient to market, having supplied fresh produce to foodservice customers for nearly forty years. 

Pat Fitzgerald, founder of Beotanics said “We are delighted to be working with Stephen and the team at McCormack Family Farms in bringing this very important herb to a wide network of chefs and food professionals. The initial feedback we have received from product trials in Ireland and across Europe has been incredibly positive.  This collaboration fits our model precisely as we both share the same Irish family farm values and traditional farming backgrounds while also seeking to diversify into new and unique opportunities within our respective and complementary fields.”

To find out more about Irish Wasabi, McCormack Family Farms will be at The Irish Producers Village (C9) at Catex, Ireland’s largest foodservice and hospitality event, which returns to the RDS, Dublin 21st – 23rd February.

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