I’m not sure when ashitaba plant first became popular in the modern times. But clearly, it has been really well-known in China and the Japanese islands of Izu. These are where ashitaba came from, where it has become part of indigenous people’s local diet for for thousands of years.
Ashitaba has many names in many countries in Asia and the US: Tomorrow’s Leaf, Earth Growth, Angelica Keiskei Koidzumi, 明日葉 Ming Re Ye. It belongs to a family of celery and it looks like giant parsley. Also known as tomorrow plant, ashitaba is both taken as both medicine and edible green vegetable. It can be served in meals and also in snacks or drink. It tastes very vegetable-like, nothing fancy. However, you probably can’t get tired of taking it because of its amazing benefits.
Ashitaba acts as immune system stimulant, which has inhibited the growth of unhealthy cell mutation. It helps to maintain the healthy function of the intestines and stomach, while also possessing possible anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-acidic agents.
If you have a tomorrow plant at home or have friends who grow ashitaba, you may find the following tips helpful.
Harvest Tomorrow Leaves
First thing you need to do is harvest tomorrow leaf from the plant. You can either take the leaves individually or pull the entire plant from the soil. Another way is to take clippings and allow the plant to continue growing. One other alternative harvesting the ashitaba leaves from the plant is pinching them with your fingernails. If you don’t want to have your newly manicured nails to be dirty or spoiled, use scissors.
Dry Tomorrow Leaves
Secondly, you must dry the tomorrow leaves. For best results, hang a bunch of leaves upside down and tie the stems together with any kind of string with length of about a foot. You can also use a nail or a hook to do this. Remember, keep the tomorrow leaves away from sunlight to dry them—and stay out of humidity. You just have to wait for at most a week for the leaves to be completely dried.
If you can’t wait that long, you can dry the tomorrow leaves by laying them out on a towel for about five minutes.
How to Prepare Ashitaba to Make Tea or Capsules
If you’re thinking that you will be only getting the leaves to make tea or capsules, you’re wrong. You have harvested the entire plant for a purpose. If you took only the leaves, also take the stems separately because they are providers of many health benefits as well.
To make ashitaba tea or capsules, break up the pieces of dried tomorrow leaves and stems. (You may cut the stems with a pair of scissors.) Then, put them into a clean Ziploc or small plastic bag. Get a thin dish towel and roll a rolling pin back and forth over the bag about 10 times. If you don’t have all these materials and don’t want to exert this much effort, you can plainly use a knife or scissors and dice the leaves into small pieces.
Your aim is to have the leaves look like those usual tea leaves sold in commercial stores and not for them to become powder. If you have achieved the size small enough for you to easily measure them with a scoop, celebrate success at this point.
Next is to get the capsules and insert the small pieces of “crushed” tomorrow leaves inside, and you’re done. If you don’t want to go through this process, you can simply buy ashitaba capsules from me here in the link. To make tea, boil them into water for about 15 minutes and drink your homemade ashitaba tea from your favorite cup.
How to Prepare Ashitaba for Drinks, Salads and Soups
Do not limit yourself to only making tea. You can also add the tomorrow leaves into an orange juice or any fruit juice. Explore! Treat it as any other vegetable. You can make ashitaba ice cream and smoothie—and the list goes on!
You can add it on a bowl of salad as healthy toppings or as ingredient in a bowl of hot soup. For soups and salads, you don’t have to smash the leaves or cut it to smaller pieces. Instead, just add one fresh ashitaba leaf or shoot for every two cups of soup or salad.
Remember to wash them first or blanch them with cold water and perform the same drying procedure as advised above. When done, at the end of the cooking process, stir the ashitaba leaves into the soup. This is to calm down the bitter taste a bit to your dish. Another idea is include ashitaba as part of your plating; add them as garnish before the soup goes to the table. And voila—startle your family with your homemade healthy gourmet dish!
My question is, “Is okay to eat a lot of ashitaba leaves for health benefits?” I read that for some people, ashitaba provides side effects like itchiness. Not sure about this one though because I have never experienced it or have known family and friends encounter this before. If you’d like to answer, please place your comments below.