preserving shiso

This summer I haven’t used the shiso from my garden nearly enough. What was I saving it for?
One doesn’t need complicated recipes, shiso is the catalyst that makes even the simplest dish dance. Summer tomatoes love umeboshi, and shiso makes the music—
see my recipe for shiso spaghetti.
Now is one last chance to take advantage of my shiso—probably preserved leaves will be pale memory of itself, but in grey winter, it could seem magic.
save:preserve, reserve for personal or special use, horde, stash, cache, lay away, squirrel away, retain possession, keep 

carry through, bring through, save from disaster
salvage, salve, relieve, save from ruin or harm,
savior, rescuer, deliverer,
redeem save from sin

record, enter, write down, set down in permanent form, record data, a computer command, a memory, a photo

keep open hold open: save this seat for me, reserve (reservation), hold, book

in sports: prevent opposition from scoring

lay aside, save up, accumulate money, for future use

streamline time or effort, This will save you time. spend less, buy at a reduced rate, conserve, economize, spend sparingly


prevent from rotting
plastinate: preserve tissues with plastic for teaching or research (not suitable for human consumption)
embalm (also not suitable for human consumption)
fruit preserved by cooking with sugar, a conserve: fruit, sugar and nuts (like jam)
preservatives for food, salt vinegar air (drying) other methods to save food: canning (heat), freezing (cold)

Cleaning shiso or other greens: Clip unblemished leaves (small and large) from the stems, drop them into a very large pot of cold water. Stir the leaves for a minute, then let the water calm. The suspended leaves allow sand to precipitate to the bottom. Carefully lift the leaves out to drain in a colander. Shiso leaves can be curly and can hide grit so I repeated the process with a fresh pot of water. Dry the leaves.salting shisoI found this post on Just Hungry (an excellent site about Japanese home cooking) describing how to preserve shiso and other herbs! This is my first attempt.Layer leaves in a glass or plastic container. Sprinkle non-iodized salt between each layer. Stack a second plastic dish over the leaves, weigh it down with a can.
Refrigerate and tell husband at is not a science experiment. The salt is supposed to draw water from the leaves, but perhaps I didn’t use enough salt. The leaves are damp, salty, and have turned an olive green color after several days.

☛ Notes: I’m not sure how long these leaves will last, and would certainly recommend keeping them in the refrigerator and inspecting, smelling them before using them. I saved both large and small leaves. The leaves should be rinsed before using them. Don’t mix red and green shiso because they will turn to a muddly color.
☛ I found some possible uses online for salted shiso: Large leaves can be used for wrapping onigiri instead of nori.
☛ Big leaves wrapped around small fish (sardines?) will become crisp and keep the fish moist. The leaves can be wrapped around patties or dumplings made from chicken, pork, or beef, the fried.
☛ Chiffonade the leaves and toss with pasta. Or think about using them (maybe in combination with kombu?) instead of anchovies in pasta puttanesca—I have no idea how this would taste, it being my own idea… I found this idea on combine parboiled rice and barley, mix with pine nuts, and use preserved shiso leaves to wrap small packages, like dolmas—bake with soup-stock until the rice has absorbed the liquid.
☛ The concept of dolmas inspired me to review how to preserve grape leaves. I’d experimented with preserving grape leaves years ago but memory is short.
The most interesting online info I found indicated that the brine should be salty enough to float a raw egg with about ½-inch diameter circle of the yolk is above water.
That site indicated 1 cup water to 1/3 c salt (5 TBS), but most other references are 1 cup water to 1 TBS salt. I went with the lower amount of salt. For shiso, sort the leaves into bundles of 20 to 25 (of similar size), then parboil each bundle in salted water for about 1 minute. Squeeze water from each bundle and layer them in a plastic container. Cover with brine and weigh down as above. These leaves are brighter green and look good.
Finally I froze a few leaves in a ziplock. After a few days, they still look nice and green.


10 thoughts on “preserving shiso

  1. Several years ago, we visited S. Korea. Some meals were served with a variety of small leaves, like lettuce, shiso and sesame. A morsel of food was put on the leaf, it was wrapped around the food, and the whole thing was popped into the mouth. I loved eating this way. Sort of like salad with one’s meal.


    • Kathleen, You are welcome for the code. If you really want, I will delete your comment, but it might be useful for other food / recipe people to know about.

      Codes for fractions: (type them in the html editor without the spaces)
      for one half: & frac 12 ;
      for one quarter: & frac 14 ;
      Other fractions:

      At this time, the WordPress editor is odd in that you must switch to the visual editor in order for the fractions to appear.

      Or come to think of it, maybe I should do a post? ½ and ¼ look more professional!

      • Of course you may leave the post up.

        After trying out the fractions, I decided not to use this code because in the font I use with the Fusion theme, the fraction numbers come out so small. I agree that it is more professional looking, but I am concerned about legibility. Nonetheless, I am glad to know about this, as I never know when I will want to use it in the future.

        Thank you for sharing.


        • Wow, great code sheet from Bruce Johnson! Keeping in mind Panos’ warning that not all code is accepted by WordPress, I guess I would have to play around with some of these to see which ones are.

          I’m really glad to know about this.


          • Mostly those codes for symbols work with wp, and Bruce Johnson indicates that his list should work with Firefox, and MIE.

            Usually if the symbols don’t show up (properly or at all), then it’s a browser problem rather than the code not being accepted by WordPress. IE is often a problem because it doesn’t support some of the latest (or even older) tags, some standard CSS, other tech-y stuff.

            Or you could be using a font not installed on your reader’s computer.

            But the editor is messed up more than usual now. Usually switching to the visual editor will mess things up, but ‘they’ seem to be making adjustments and introducing unusual quirks…

            Anyway, I get carried away sometimes with computer stuff…
            I just try to have fun…

  2. What a knowledge packed post! I’m telling the shiso to hurry up now so that I can begin to harvest it for the bento boxes. I love the idea of the pickled leaves wrapping an onigiri. Will this work the same for red leaves? I only found seeds for the red variety.

  3. Hi Caroline,

    I have been busy and out of touch.
    The deal with the house with the ginkgo tree is coming along, and my brother came to visit.

    I’d think you could wrap onigiri with fresh shiso leaves. I still have to try with my salted/preserved leaves… They still look good.

    To me, the red shiso usually seems more bitter, but the red shiso I had this year wasn’t bitter. Plants are a mystery.

    It must be early spring there? How long is your growing season? March or April?

    LOL, our winter here will be from December through January.

  4. I once used a bunch of fresh ground up shiso leaves in place of hops, to dry hop a beer. It was a West Coast IPA by Festa Brewery. A premixed brew that you only need to add the yeast to to ferment it. Usually I’d dry hop it with hops to add to the flavour but once using Shiso I got a nice peppery taste to the beer.

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