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Korean Perilla (Kkaenip)

$2.99 USD

Seed Count: Approx. 100 seeds

Days to Maturity: 85 Days

Description: Korean Perilla (Kkaenip), is an aromatic herb belonging to the mint family.  This variety has larger leaves than a lot of its Japanese counterparts.  The leaves are vibrant bright green, with beautiful lilac undersides.  It is perfect for making Kkaenip kimchi, sushi, pickles, soup, and other side dishes.  They're also delicious used as microgreens.  I love substituting lettuce with Korean Perilla leaves in lettuce wraps (ssam), because of their unique delicious flavor.  The flavor is kind of minty, and basily in taste, but it can also be hard to describe.  You'll just have to try it yourself!  I find it hard to find Korean Perilla leaves in the stores, but they're super easy to grow, and do very well in hot climates.  They're quite vigorous and can be a nuisance, since they easily self seed themselves, just like basil, but if you're a huge fan like I am, then the little surprise plants are quite lovely.

How To Grow

Sowing:  Since perilla loves warm weather, it grows best when the soil has warmed and there is no chance of frost. In cool climates, start seeds indoors in the early spring, sowing them thinly, and providing heat to speed up the germination. To direct sow, wait until night time temperatures reach at least 45 degrees, then plant the seeds 1/4" deep, in rich soil and full sun.  Seeds should germinate in 7-14 days, if sown indoors, and 14-20 days, if sown outdoors. Be careful not to over water these seedlings, because they are prone to damping off.  I've also grown perilla indoors as a container plant.

Growing:  Perilla grows best in full sun, or partial shade, and well draining soil, yet needs to be watered frequently in hot weather. You grow perilla, exactly how you would basil.  As the plant grows, pruning it helps it to develop into a bushy, healthy plant; pruning is also important, because once the plant flowers, it will begin to wilt and die. To prune the plant, pinch off the leaves, taking care to leave at least three sets of leaves on the lower part.  Perilla grows well with basil, mints, and parsley. 

Harvesting:  Perilla can be harvested, at any time, and as leaves are needed. The best time to harvest the leaves are in the morning after the dew dries. After the plant is established, harvesting often actually improves production.  Remove single leaves, as needed, just make sure to leave some of the leaves so it can continue to grow. Fresh Perilla can keep in the fridge for up to a week. If you allow it to flower, it will readily reseed itself.  Saving perilla seeds are easy, and similar to basil.  You just allow it to flower, and wait for the seed pods to turn brown, then shake them over a container to collect them.  You can even use perilla seeds as a garnish, the same way you would sesame, just expect a strong anise, minty like flavor.