Organic, Kosher, Vegan, Wheat Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free
Clearspring Organic Umeboshi are tart, tangy, salt pickled ume plums that have long been a vital part of Japanese cuisine and folk medicine. Small pieces add zest to sushi and rice balls and can be rubbed onto cooked sweetcorn or used in other dishes. Taken alone, umeboshi flesh has been traditionally used as a digestive tonic. Umeboshi are a concentrated food and only a small amount is needed.
Ingredients: Organic Japanese ume plums (88%), sea salt, organic shiso (perilla) leaves (1%).
Product weight - 200g
Clearspring Organic Umeboshi plums are produced on a small scale by a family in Wakayama, the best known ume fruit growing area in Japan. They are passionate about small scale farming and food production, managing their orchard using organic methods and following the traditional slow practice of lactic acid pickling when making their exquisite umeboshi.
They harvest their fruit towards the end of June when it is partially ripe and the juice still acid enough to give the desired tartness to the pickles. Picked too early, and the pickles remain hard, whilst picked later when fully ripe, produces mushy, tasteless pickles.
After harvesting they soak the fruit overnight to remove any bitterness, then pack it in barrels with layers of salt and leave it to pickle for a few weeks. The secret of the pickling process, they say, is to allow the beneficial lactic-acid-forming bacteria to develop before other competing bacteria gain a hold. The right amount of salt - lactic-acid bacteria are salt-tolerant whilst many other species are not - and a cool, dark place for pickling, are critical to this process.
Around late July, when pickling is complete, they dry their umeboshi on trays in the sun and then carry out a second, shorter pickling in the brine of pickled leaves of the fragrant red shiso herb which gives umeboshi their characteristic crimson colour and spicy flavour.
Our producer is exceptionally skilled in using traditional methods, which is why their organic plums are amongst the finest umeboshi products in Japan.
Health Benefits of Umeboshi
The umeboshi, salt pickled plum, is one of Japan's most remarkable traditional foods, revered since ancient times both as an everyday food and a potent health tonic.
In some Japanese cities it is not unusual to see a small, seventeenth-century, tile-roofed Buddhist temple nestled between tall, modern glass office buildings. Even in the more traditional countryside, the contrast between old and new can be stark. While one family sits at a contemporary Western-style dinner table eating imported steak, their more typical neighbours are seated on the floor eating rice and miso soup with chopsticks.
However, when it comes to Japanese pickled plums, or umeboshi (literally, dried plum), everyone seems to agree that there is no modern substitute for its zesty palate-cleansing flavour and fast-acting medicinal effects.
Even today, some traditional Japanese people begin the day with two pickled plums and a cup of tea. British author and Japanese food authority Robbie Swinnerton compares umeboshi’s taste to the culinary equivalent of a cold shower. “The abrupt, searingly tart, tangy, salty taste jolts the eyes open, shakes the stomach awake, sandpapers off any staleness from the taste buds, and gets the day off to an unforgettable start.”
But besides their dramatic flavour, writes Swinnerton, “Japanese pickled plums have remarkable medicinal qualities. Their powerful acidity has a paradoxical alkalinizing effect on the body, neutralising fatigue, stimulating the digestion, and promoting the elimination of toxins. This is the Far Eastern equivalent to both aspirin and apple; not only is it a potent hangover remedy for mornings after; more than that, an umeboshi a day is regarded as the best preventive medicine available.”
Although particularly effective for all sorts of stomach disorders from hyper-acidity and indigestion to ulcers, umeboshi also increases endurance and stimulates the liver’s and kidneys’ function of dissolving and expelling toxins, thus purifying the blood. As every Japanese housewife learns at an early age, umeboshi’s powerful anti-bacterial properties make it very effective in preventing rice from spoiling. Ancient medical texts also credit umeboshi with preventing food poisoning. Umeboshi’s alkalinizing effect makes it a wonderful general tonic. Added to “soft rice” (rice cooked 7-10:1 with water until very soft), umeboshi is the Japanese cure-all for sick children.
Like many of Japan’s ancient medicinal foods, the origin of the pickled plum is obscure. One theory traces it to China, where a dried smoked plum, or ubai, was discovered in a tomb built over two thousand years ago.
The ubai is one of China’s oldest medicines and is still used for a variety of medical purposes such as counteracting nausea, reducing fevers, and controlling coughs.
The oldest Japanese record of pickled plums being used as a medicine is in a medical text written about one thousand years ago. Umeboshi were used to prevent fatigue, purify water, rid the body of toxins, and cure specific diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, and food poisoning. Slowly, extensive folklore developed about umeboshi’s ability to prevent and cure certain diseases.
During Japan’s samurai period, which lasted through most of the Middle Ages, the pickled plum was the soldier’s most important field ration. It was used to flavour foods such as rice and vegetables, and its high acidity made it an excellent water and food purifier, as well as an effective antidote for battle fatigue.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 25 June, 2015.