You’ve probably tasted wasabi in fine dining restaurants or on a trip to Japan.

Shima Wasabi is the largest commercial wasabi farm in Australia. Located in Tasmania’s temperate northwest and founded by Stephen Welsh, Shima Wasabi utilises a unique hydroponic growing system that enables a controlled growing environment. Almost all parts of the plant are edible, with the stems being harvested and cleaned before packing to send direct to restaurants around Australia for grating and mixing to make fresh wasabi paste. Other parts of the plant are sorted into a range of uses for both fresh and dried product, with less than 10% of harvested material going to waste.

Enthusiasts will soon have fresh wasabi available for experimenting in the kitchen at home.

Shima Wasabi is expanding the existing crop and building a new greenhouse that will enable a doubling of production. Shima Wasabi Powder is one of the few 100% wasabi powders available and offers a superior taste to some of the horseradish substitute pastes you might find in sachets or tubes.

Culinary trivia: what to know about wasabi

Most powdered wasabi sold across the world is made from horseradish, not wasabi.

The chemical in wasabi that provides its initial pungency is the volatile allyl isothiocyanate , which is released by the grating of the plant stem. Release of the chemical is a natural defence mechanism, which also occurs when the plant is damaged.

Research has shown that the isothiocyanate compounds produced by the plant inhibit microbe growth, perhaps with implications for preserving food against spoilage and suppressing oral bacterial growth.

Because the burning sensations of wasabi are not oil-based, they are short-lived compared to the effects of chili peppers, and are washed away with more food or liquid. The sensation is felt primarily in the nasal passage and can be quite painful depending on the amount consumed.

Inhaling or sniffing wasabi vapor has an effect like smelling salts, a property exploited by researchers attempting to create a smoke alarm for the deaf. The 2011 Ig Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the researchers for determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi to wake people in the event of an emergency.

Look out for Shima Wasabi next time you visit the supermarket

Try our versatile wasabi powder and spices, or taste some sensational gourmet products that contain fresh wasabi. You can pick them up in your local supermarket or buy selected products online now.

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