Get to Know Umeboshi, the Japanese Salted Plums


umeboshi_pickled_plum

Have you try to consume umeboshi? What is umeboshi?

In Japan, umeboshi become the essential everyday foodstuff and also effective as medicine that still being used to everyone nowadays.

Recently, umeboshi also famous among vegans. Some people also called it one of the “vegan superfood” because of its nutrients.

In this article, we would like to introduce you all about umeboshi: from its history, umeboshi Q&A, health benefits to how to deliciously eat umeboshi.

What is Umeboshi?

umeboshi_pickled_plum

Umeboshi (梅干 or 梅干し), literally means "dried ume" or "dried plum" is pickled ume (plum) fruits that is a traditional Japan food.

Japanese people began making umeboshi during the Heian period (794-1185).
Nowadays, umeboshi still becomes the everyday foodstuff in Japan because it is loved by Japanese people.

Umeboshi is a dried, salted fruit of Prunus Mume Tree

Ume (Prunus mume) is a species of fruit-bearing tree in the genus Prunus, which is often called a plum but is actually more closely related to the apricot.

Prunus Mume is a deciduous tree that starts to flower in mid-winter (January-February) and the fruit ripens in early summer (June-July) in East Asia.

The ripped fruit then produced to umeboshi.

umeboshi_PrunusMume_tree

how_to_make_umeboshi

How To Make Umeboshi
Making umeboshi needs plenty of time and effort to complete the processes.
That is why the taste of homemade Umeboshi is special.
Enjoy the original recipe for "How to Make Umeboshi" gathered by Kawashima the Japanstore, available with pictures and video!
Read more




“Sour and Salty” - The Taste of Umeboshi

Umeboshi is a popular kind of tsukemono (pickles) in Japan, and which tastes sour and salty due to high citric acid content.

There is also sweet umeboshi, which is pickled with honey.

Some umeboshi are processed in few years longer (can be 3, 4 years or more) to change the sourness into a rich umami flavor.

The three years matured umeboshi (sannen umeboshi) is one of them.

sour_and_salty

sannen_umeboshi_article

What is Sannen Umeboshi?
Sannen Umeboshi (three years matured Umeboshi) is a pickled raw plum with salt which carefully dried under the sun and processed thoroughly aged in a barrel for three years long.
Click the link below to learn more about Sannen Umeboshi!
Read more

Learn The History of Umeboshi:
"Ume Has a History of Over 2000 Years"

umeboshi_pickled_plum

Ume was first introduced to Japan from China as a form of traditional medicine, called “Ubai” or dried or smoked unripe Ume.
It came about ~ 700 A.D. in the Asuka Period.

Japanese people began making umeboshi during the Heian period (794-1185).
This time, ume already appears as umeboshi and used for medical treatment.

Not only mentioned in Japan’s Oldest Medical Document, umeboshi also recorded in an encyclopedia published in the Edo period (1603 – 1868).
Therefore, we know that people used umeboshi for its medicinal effects.

Umeboshi was Used Among Samurai in Muromachi Period

During the war in Muromachi Period (1336 – 1573), the samurai used to bring umeboshi with them.

The samurai chooses to bring umeboshi because umeboshi is believed to increase someone’s appetite, removes irritation, and good for healing wounds.
It is also can be preserved for a long time and have abundant nutrients despite its small size.
Therefore, the samurai consumed umeboshi to help them regain their strength and appetite on the battlefield.

This is the origin of how the Ume tree is spread throughout Japan.
And it makes umeboshi slowly considered as foodstuff, not only as medicine.

Umeboshi as the Antidote for Cholera Epidemics in Meiji Period

There was a cholera massive epidemic in 1875 (Meiji 8th years).
At this period, umeboshi plays an important role as cholera’s antidote.

The citric acid content in umeboshi have a strong sterilizing effect, therefore it is used as treatment.
It said that if people with cholera disease consumed umeboshi, they can get better.

Not only cholera, umeboshi also helps you to prevent and cures some health problems.
Continue to read this article to discover about the health effect benefits you can get by consuming umeboshi!

The Health Effect of Umeboshi


Fatigue Recovery

Plum contains citric acid that can metabolizes lactic acid in the blood and breaks it down to carbon dioxide and water, which is a source to recover from fatigue.

Consuming umeboshi can improves metabolism and protects your body from the winter cold and the fatigue caused by the summer heat.

The citric acid also help you to improve blood circulation. Good blood circulation help those who feel cold all the time, especially in winter.

umeboshi_health_effect_1

Increasing Appetite and Improving Digestion

Citric acid in umeboshi can stimulate secretion of saliva, and gastric secretion which also help digestion, increasing the appetite, and absorption of food.

Try to drink you morning tea routine with umeboshi to increase your appetite and aid digestion.

In addition, the ingredient "pyruvic acid" contained in Umeboshi is said to have a function to improve liver function.

umeboshi_health_effect_2

Good for Diets

Umeboshi has several beauty benefits.
First is to help you lose weight. There is citric acid that helps you burned more calories and vanillin that encourages the burning of fat after your meal.

Second, it helps you to have a balanced lifestyle.
Eating umeboshi will neutralize toxic acids from high acid foods (such as sugar and processed foods) which usually causes health problems.

The acidity of citric acid and the alkalinity of salt from umeboshi also helps your organs to detoxify efficiently.

Let’s take care of our body from inside and outsite!

umeboshi_health_effect_3

Helps You Relieves Hangover

Umeboshi replaces electrolytes like sodium and potassium you lose when drinking, which relieve hangover syndromes.

Finally, the sour taste will make you want to drink more water. Drinking water could help you to recover quickly because the main symptoms of hangover is dehydration.

It is recommended to take Umeboshi or Umeboshi extract before getting a drink.
You can also take it afterward to relieve hangover symptoms.

umeboshi_health_effect_4

How to Choose The Delicious Umeboshi

choosing_umeboshi

Umeboshi is a very good preserved food.

In the traditional recipe, if the Umeboshi made without adding too much additive, it is said that the salt content is over 20%.
If the environment is suitable to preserve Umeboshi without any contamination, there are Umeboshi which can still be eaten even after over 100 years.

But, lately there are a lot of stores that selling ‘seasoned umeboshi’.
After being dried under the sun and immersed in the salt, they add numerous amounts of additives such as chemical seasonings, sweeteners and acidulant for the ‘seasoned umeboshi'.

Although these ‘seasoned umeboshi’ have reduction amount of salt, the preservation is bad and the real flavour of the umeboshi is lost by the chemical seasoning.

For those who are concerned about health and want to enjoy the original taste of umeboshi, we highly recommended umeboshi made by traditional recipe which produced without additives.

Is it Okay to Eat Umeboshi with Black Dots?

umeboshi_with_black_dots

Some people may wondered about “is it okay to eat umeboshi that has black dots?”

This black dots are actually mold caused by fungus.
A tree that nurtured with pesticide-free cultivation has higher possibility to bear fruit with black dots.

The black dots are sterilized when the ume is salted and pickled, so there is no problem for your body or health.
Therefore, it’s okay to eat umeboshi that has black dots.

Furthermore, if you make your own homemade umeboshi, you can simply peel off the black dots together with the ume’s stem before washing the raw ume.
This way, you can enjoy umeboshi without black dots.

Even the appearance of umeboshi with black dots may bother you a bit, it has almost no different taste with umeboshi without black dots.
Umeboshi with black spots may have a rough texture at the dot’s part, but it doesn’t change the umeboshi’s taste.
On the other hand, umeboshi without black dots have a smoother texture.

How to Store Umeboshi?

As we know, traditional umeboshi made without too many additives is very good preserved food. But the seasoned umeboshi, on the contrary, can not be preserved for too long.

  • blue
  • red

How to store umeboshi in the right way?

The ideal way to store umeboshi is to store it in an earthenware pot (甕, or "Kame") at room temperature. Earthenware pot and the ceramic pot is the perfect storage to maintain the umeboshi's quality for a long time.
It's also not necessary to refrigerate traditional umeboshi.

Yamajou_Ceramic

Yamajou Ceramic

The ceramics from Yamajou Ceramic (弥満丈製陶) contains titanium oxide, which has excellent deodorizing, antibacterial, and antioxidative effects.

For that reason, pickled food like umeboshi is hard to get sour when you store umeboshi in ceramic pot. The pot can also maintain umeboshi's beautiful natural color.

The Yamajou Ceramic is highly known for its quality to preserve food storage in Japan.

Yamajou Ceramic's Product List

"Umeboshi" is The Typical Ingredients for "Onigiri"

Onigiri or Japanese rice ball has always been one of the numerous Japanese food’s representatives to the world.

umeboshi_onigiri

Before the refrigerators even exist, Japanese people came up with a method to keep the rice fresh longer by filling it with salty or sour ingredient as natural preservatives.
That is why salt is rubbed on hands when you make onigiri, that’s to keep it much longer.

So, traditionally, onigiri is filled with umeboshi, salted salmon, katsuobushi, or any other salty or sour ingredient.

Umeboshi helps to prevent rice from rotting because the citric acid will in umeboshi prevents the growth of microorganisms.

You can enjoy the delicious, portable, and easy-to-make onigiri for a quick snack, school/work lunch, or as picnic food.

How to Eat Umeboshi Deliciously

Umeboshi indeed has very sour and salty flavor. But it also indeed has a lot of health benefits.
Although it's sour and salty, but Japanese people really love that flavor of umeboshi. This is perhaps because long time ago, like in Edo and Nara period, most of foods in Japan have very light flavor.
Then, there's this umeboshi who has thick flavor and therefore umeboshi become a food with tasty and unique flavor for Japanese people.

eat umeboshi

Japanese people usually eat umeboshi as side dishes for rice, or as a filling for rice balls (onigiri), or in their rice in bentos for breakfast and lunch.

If you live in a country with strong-flavored foods with spices everywhere, you might frown upon the taste of umeboshi.
But, there are several ways to eat umeboshi to make it more delicious!

Eat umeboshi with sasami (chicken breast meat)

If you combine the flavor of umeboshi and chicken meat, it will not taste very sour and salty anymore. Instead, this combination will has savory flavor with some hints of sourness.
To eat umeboshi with chicken meat, Japanese people usually use sasami (chicken breast meat).

There are several ways to eat umeboshi with sasami.

First, you can cut the umeboshi to small pieces or crush it so it became paste and just put it on the top of half-raw or cooked chicken breast.

Second, you can chop the umeboshi until it become like paste (you can also add sake and mirin to mix in the umeboshi paste), and make it as a fill inside the chicken breast, then grill or fry it.

Third, you can make sasami-umeboshi roll by flattening the chicken breast, and using chopped umeboshi mixed with perilla leaves as the filler, and roll it just like sushi.

eat umeboshi


Eat umeboshi with cucumber

Japanese people loves to eat umeboshi with cucumber.
You can chop or crush the cucumber, then sprinkle and mix some salt and/or vinegar on it, then mix the salted cucumber with chopped umeboshi. You can also add ginger.

The other way is, to cook the sliced or chopped umeboshi with cucumber, pork meat, sausage, and perilla leaves on fry pan.

eat umeboshi


Eat umeboshi with cold tofu or spaghetti

Hiyayakko (冷奴) or cold tofu is one of the good partner for umeboshi. Put the umeboshi on cold tofu and just eat them together. You can also add katsuobushi (dried tuna/bonito).

There is also "Japanese style spaghetti", which is a spaghetti with some Japanese foods mixed with it. In this Japanese style spaghetti, Japanese people usually put minced umeboshi in it.

eat umeboshi

These are some ways of eating umeboshi that make it more delicious. For you who cannot stand the strong flavor of umeboshi, maybe these can be your choices of eating it!

What is Umeboshi Paste?

I see you have discovered one of the uses of umeboshi paste above!
Umeboshi paste is definitely delicious when you combine it with sasami (chicken breast meat).

But what is umeboshi paste in the first place?
Umeboshi paste is a puree of ume, made by smashing umeboshi into a pulpy liquid.

Umeboshi paste has the sour and salty flavor from umeboshi as it is but in different form. This 'puree' form of umeboshi creates more innovation in dishes.

There are some tips to use umeboshi paste to its fullest!
- Mix umeboshi paste in Caesar salad dressing sauce,
- Use it as the alternative to salt and vinegar,
- Enrich the flavor and balance the sweetness in soups, broths, or sauces,
- Mix umeboshi paste with miso to make the ‘cheesy vegan sauce’, or
- Simply use it as condiments in our dishes.

eat_umeboshi_paste

Umeboshi paste are recommended as condiments for sushi and sasami in Japanese cuisine.

Recently, umeboshi paste are began to draw the attention from outside Japan too. Many professional cooks are using umeboshi paste as condiment to their dishes.

Which is why umeboshi paste is now used not only in Japanese cuisines like sushi, onigiri (rice balls), or miso dishes but also in international cuisine like pesto, Thai curry, risotto, etc.

Q&A About Umeboshi

What does umeboshi taste like?
Umeboshi is a popular kind of tsukemono (pickles) in Japan, and which tastes sour and salty due to high citric acid content.
There is also sweet umeboshi, which is pickled with honey.
Can you tell me the history of umeboshi in Japan?
Ume was first introduced to Japan from China as a form of traditional medicine, called “Ubai” or dried or smoked unripe Ume. It came about ~ 700 A.D. in the Asuka Period.

As time continues, umeboshi slowly considered as foodstuffs and not only used for medicine.

Umeboshi plays an important role as cholera’s antidote at Japan's Cholera Epidemics in The Meiji Period. Not only cholera, umeboshi also helps you to prevent and cures some health problems.
I bought umeboshi that has black dots in it. Is it edible?
Yes, it's still edible.
This black dots are actually mold caused by fungus. A tree that nurtured with pesticide-free cultivation has higher possibility to bear fruit with black dots.
But, these black dots are sterilized when the ume is salted and pickled. And it doesn't effect the umeboshi's taste.
How long does umeboshi last?
Umeboshi can last for very long time.
When we store umeboshi for a long time, the plum vinegar dried out and the texture of umeboshi will harden. Some people might like it in that way, but others prefer to eat fresh and watery umeboshi.
What is the right way to store umeboshi?
The ideal way to store umeboshi is to store it in an earthenware pot (甕, or "Kame") at room temperature. Earthenware pot and the ceramic pot is the perfect storage to maintain the umeboshi's quality for a long time.
It's also not necessary to refrigerate traditional umeboshi.

You can find the products for the pot here.
How do you eat umeboshi?
● Japanese people usually eat umeboshi as side dishes for rice, or as a filling for rice balls (onigiri), or in their rice in bentos for breakfast and lunch.

● If you don't want to taste the whole umeboshi at once, it's great to cut and mince the umeboshi. Try to eat minced umeboshi with cucumber, cold tofu (Hiyayakko), or in Japanese-style umeboshi spaghetti.

● Another way is to enjoy umeboshi in the form of "umeboshi paste". You can add umeboshi paste on the top of fried or grilled chicken breast meat.
What is umeboshi paste? I heard that I can use umeboshi paste as a replacement for salt or vinegar, is that right?
Umeboshi paste is a puree of ume, made by smashing umeboshi into a pulpy liquid.
You can use it as the replacement for salt or vinegar, with the umeboshi taste on it.
This 'puree' form of umeboshi creates more innovation in dishes. Try to mix it as salad dressing sauce, in your soups, or as condiments in dishes.
Where I can find Umeboshi and Umeboshi Paste?
Find the fresh, pesticide-free, and non-additives umeboshi at The Recommended Products for Umeboshi. Please take a look to the Umeboshi Paste too!
It's also good to make homemade umeboshi. Learn how to make homemade umeboshi in our article: "How To Make Umeboshi".

The Recommended Products for Umeboshi

Umeboshi is a foodstuff with excessive benefits.
Consuming umeboshi may balance your lifestyle, relieved your fatigue or being more healthier than ever.

It may be a little bit sour or salty for most of people at first, but please try to consume umeboshi by all means!

ryujin_umeboshi
Ryujin Ume Long-Term Aged Umeboshi (3 Years Matured) 280g
The highest mountain in Kishu, Mt. Gomadan. Clear current flowing through the valley of Hidakawa river. Ryujin ume is made in this Ryujin village where nature and history have been nurtured. Matured for 3 years, this ume has a delicious mild taste. The strong and deep taste of an umeboshi, came out nicely because of the long-term maturity.
Country of Origin: Ryujin Natural Food Centre (Wakayama Prefecture), Japan
Click here to check the products
nanko_3_year_umeboshi
Organic Nanko Ume Grade A - 3 Years Matured -1 Kg (Organic Nanko Ume From Takeuchi Farm, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture)
Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture is home of Kishu Nanko Ume. Even among the authentic products of Kishu, the 3 Years Matured Nanko-Ume have received a rare organic JAS (Japan Agricultural Standards) Certification. In Takeuchi Farm, in order to deliver plum safely and securely to the costumers, we use wood vinegar which made from natural things as a repellent and using garlic, fish and oyster as foliar application for pickling process. We soak it with mineral salt and dried it thoroughly under the sun.
Country of Origin: Takeuchi Farm, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture
Click here to check the products
nanko_4_year_umeboshi
Special Cultivation Nanko Ume - 4 Years Matured -1 Kg (From Takeuchi Farm, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture)
Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture is home of Kishu Nanko Ume. Even among the authentic products of Kishu, it is a 4 years matured umeboshi made by a special cultivation. In Takeuchi Farm, in order to deliver plum safely and securely to the costumers, we use wood vinegar which made from natural things as a repellent and using garlic, fish and oyster as foliar application for pickling process. We soak it with mineral salt and dried it thoroughly under the sun.
Country of Origin: Takeuchi Farm, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture
Click here to check the products
kiwa_no_sato_umeboshi
Kiwa’s Village Non-Pesticide, Non-Additives Umeboshi (3 Years Matured) 500g
It is a 3 years fully matured and pickled umeboshi, nurtured in an pesticide-free and without chemical fertilizer farm. We choose the best type of ume for making umeboshi that is thick and has small seeds, native from Mie Prefecture.
Country of Origin: Kumano City, Mie Prefecture
Click here to check the products
umeproduct_en_05
Organic Umeboshi Paste 300g (From Takeuchi Farm, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture)
Umeboshi Paste from 100% organic Nankou Ume (one of finest white ume varieties) from Wakayama Prefecture. This product has a JAS (Japan Agricultural Standard) Certification for organic product. Please enjoy the old-styled, sour umeboshi paste’s flavor as it is!
Country of Origin: Takeuchi Farm, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture
Click here to check the products
umeproduct_en_06
Ryujin Ume’s Umeboshi Paste (Crushed Ume) 470g
Umeboshi Paste from Ryujin Ume, product of Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. It can be use as replacement when you want to use salt and or/ vinegar for your dishes. Also, please use this paste when making onigiri (rice balls), sushi, and of course, it is great for dressings or as souvenirs.
Country of Origin: Ryujin Natural Food Centre (Wakayama Prefecture), Japan
Click here to check the products
raw_ume_extract
Ryujin Ume’s Raw Ume Extract 300g (100% Pesticide-Free and Non-chemical Fertilizer Ryujin Ume Use)
An extract from squeezed raw ume fruit from Ryujin Ume. It is a rich product filled with the active ingredients of ume. Only 20 to 25 grams of raw ume extract can be made from 1 kg raw ume. We use 100% raw ume without any additives. Please enjoy a teaspoon of raw ume extract together with a cup of tea everyday!
Country of Origin: Ryujin Natural Food Centre (Wakayama Prefecture), Japan
Click here to check the products