For a couple of weeks, in the streets and parks around Japan, we can enjoy the view of the colorful flowers of Ume trees.
Their beauty is just amazing.
At school they told us that you can see them in two colors: those with white petals represent the passage from winter to spring, while the dark pink one are the symbol of the end of the cold and the arrival of warm weather.
I am 100% sure if it is true or not but see appear this colors around the park, is pure happiness.
For Japanese people, the bloom of Ume has also another important meaning: the beginning of the production of Umeboshi and Umeshu.
While we have already talked about Umeshu in a previous article, today I want to give space to this other ingredient famous for the special taste and incredible properties: Umeboshi.
First of all, what is Ume?
Ume is the Japanese translation of “Plum”, but botanically speaking, it is slightly more similar to an apricot.
With its green color (or yellow once ripened) and thick skin, is a fruit that we can not eat as it is because of the toxic substances contained inside. Nevertheless, once processed, is considered one of the ingredients able to provide longevity and protection to our body, in particular, our digestive system.
Have you ever tasted it?
Eat Umeboshi is like take an unexpected cold shower. Due to the extreme acidity the first time you will try it you will be shock！
But trust me, despite this first frightening reaction, it’s delicious.
With Ume = plum and Boshi = dry this ingredient has many good proprieties for our intestines.
Despite its strong acidity in fact (20 times higher than lemon), macrobiotic cooking studies state that once in our stomach system, it is metabolized as an alkaline substance, able to help in the detoxification and protection of our digestive system.
Why Umeboshi is popular in Japanese Obento
It cooperates perfectly with our body but not only: Umeboshi is also a great antibacterial.
Did you know those cute Japanese Obentos (lunch box), with a small red ball in the middle of rice? That is actually an Umeboshi.
Its properties allow the protection of the ingredients it is in contact with from bacterial proliferation, helping the preservation of food.
Did you know that onigiri with Umeboshi filling last longer than any others?
Another good reason to enjoy them, but attention, never overdo！
In Italy, we say: “Il troppo stroppia ” (“Too much, stifles). It means that if we exaggerate there is a high risk of hurting ourselves. This is also true in the case of Umeboshi.
The reason is easily deductible from the ingredients used for their preparation.
With all its qualities, you will be surprised by the fact that it is really easy to make!
The ingredients are essentially two: Ume and salt.
Umeboshi is simply plums preserved in salt, usually accompanied by Shiso leaves, which give them that pleasant dark pink color.
Why we should eat them with precaution? This is because of its salt content.
The traditional recipes states that for every kg of Ume, we should add 20% salt. (Despite this, nowadays many recipes recommend 8-10%).
We are therefore talking about a high sodium ingredient not recommended for people with hypertension and heart disease.
When we can make it?
Umeboshi is harvest at the beginning of June and it is traditional to prepare them at home, during the rainy season.
Since I am a big fans and I love to cook and try new things I made a promise. This year I will try to make them!
See you then in June with the Umeboshi Recipe!