On a field trip last week visiting businesses in Tasmania's north west, I saw wasabi growing for the first time and tasted the freshest possible, just picked, trimmed and grated by the founder of Shima Wasabi. Now part of The Tasmanian Food Co. group of companies, it's a fascinating business and the largest grower of Japanese wasabi in the southern hemisphere. They primarily supply fresh wasabi to high end restaurants around Australia. It is grown hydroponically in a large climate controlled greenhouse. The stems (not the roots, as widely believed) are harvested and shipped on demand direct to chefs, chilled to keep it fresh. There's little waste, as the leaves, stems and flowers can all be used as well. Currently, little of their product goes direct to consumers, although you can buy wasabi powder to make a lovely paste from their web site. That may change, however, with new products and packaging methods currently under development.
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