Today with living in the countryside of Japan by OkopanThunderstorm
Home-made Umeboshi recipe
Have you tried one of those sour-sweet plum pickles in Japanese food? You might find it on top of white rice in traditional Bento (lunchbox)
I think Umeboshi is super-food. Full of anti-oxidants, citric acid, among other healthy nutritions like calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium.
In Japan, people used to say “One Umeboshi keeps the doctors away”
While you can purchase it in stores, nothing is better than the home-made organic ones.
This summer I got to learn my family recipe of how to make Umeboshi at home from my grandmother.
When we purchase fresh plums, we make 3 things: Umeboshi(pickled plums), Umeshu(Plum liquir), and Ume-Juice.
What’s good about it?
Umeboshi is one of signitures in traditional Japanese meals. In Japan, it is believed to cure hang-overs, joint paints, and common disease. The Japanese eat it all-year around, but traditionally it is recommended in summer as they can boost your metabolish, immunity and energy in hot summer.
It might taste funny at first, but once you are used to it. These will bring you wonderful benefits such as..
- Anti-oxidants to keep you young
- Citric acid to keep you feeling energized, cure fatigue, and help building up muscles.
- Prevent the flu: They are proven to prevent the flu virus from growing inside your body.
- Stomach health : They can cure the alcohol-associated stomach problems, as well as helico-bactor pylori infection(Common stomach infection with no symptons, which can lead to stomach ulcers).
Organic Umeboshi recipe
1. Prepping the plums
My family prepared 5kg of plums this year. It costed around 3000-4000yen for this large size, but you can find smaller ones at much cheaper prices at the grocery stores. Plums are available from the end of May – Mid July in Japan, which is rainy season. Later in the process, you have to lay the pickles under the sun to dry, so make sure you finish the prep before the rainy season is up.
When it arrives in a box, if it looks like the picture, you are good to go.
If it’s a bit greener, place a spread-newspaper on top of plums in a box and let it sit for a couple days until they turn yellow-ish.
Take out the core(or stem end) from each plums. It’s the black part of the middle picture.
Prepare a bucket full of rice water (water left over from washing rice) and dip the plums all in.
Let them sit for a few days until the water clears out.
3. Rinse, Jar them up with sea salt
(Click the picture to see the bigger image)
Once the water is clear like the right picture, rinse the plums with water, dry with towels. Prepare a large jar and sea salt (we used 1 kg of seasalt for 5 kg of plums)
Place plums and salt in a jar. Try to put the salt evenly among plums.
Let them sit until the jar is filled with the liquid from plums. It takes around 3 days.
4. Adding Shiso-leaves (Perilla)
While the plums are being pickled, we must prepare the purple leaves called Shiso. This Japanese herb has unique scent(kind of minty and spicy, or wasabi-ish) used to add flavors and color the plums.
We ordered 5 packs of Shiso, which cost about 3000yen.
1. First off, take the leaves off from the stems. you might see some bugs in this step because bugs seem to love this leaves. Be careful of that and also the leaves will stain your hand purple. so wear gloves.
2. Wash the leaves with vegetable soap, if you dont want to use vegetable soap you can rub salt into the leaves and rinse with water. Do this 2 or 3 times until it’s completely clean
3. Prepare a bowl and add a handful off leaves, a table spoon salt and water. Knead the salt in the leaves.
Then, squeeze the leaves into a ball and take as much water out as possible.
4. Bring the jars and pour the pickle juice into the bowl. Dip the balls in the juice, break the balls and mix well in the juice.
Pick one plum, break it and mix with the leave and juice. knead. This plum process is done to turn the juice bright pink.
5. Spread the leaves on the top of plums and pour the juice back into the jar.
Place the lid and let them settle and wait until the rainy season ends in a couple of weeks..
You are almost done...!
5. Sun-dry the pickles
When the TV announced the end of rainy season, you can move on to the next step.
On a sunny day, before noon, open the jar, squeeze the leaves dry, spread the leaves on top of the bamboo basket like this, and place the plums on top. This will keep the plums from sticking to the basket and breaking.
Place it under the direct sunlight until the sunset. Repeat this process 3 – 4 times until the plums turn red. Put the leaves and plums back in a jar every time you finish.
Keep the juice in the jar while you do this.
When the plum looks like this, you are done!
The pickles can be kept for years in a jar. Separate in small jars and put the year.
Plum liquer Recipe
The following 2 recipes are a lot easier than pickles.
For the liquer, prepare 3 ingredients. This is for 5 litters of Umeshu.
- Fresh plums 1kg (Pick the young green color ones)
- Rock sugar 500 – 1000 grams
- Any white liqur with more than 35% alcohol (I like to use sho-chu) 1.8 litters
- Prepare a large jar & disinfect it with boiled water.
- Take the core of fresh plums out(As in Umeboshi process above) wash the plums, towel dry and place the plums and rock sugar in a jar evenly.
- Add liquor.
- Place a lid and store it in a dark place without direct sunlight for 6 months.
-Do not pick the yellow plums or wait until it turns yellow. The flavor wouldn’t be as good with ripe plums.
– Use strong liquir with more than 35% alcohol to avoid the Umeshu from rottening.
– if you cannot find rock sugar, use any sugar that does not dissolve easily such as honey, brown sugar etc.
This taste amazing and boost your energy in summer.
Shiso-Juice (purple perilla juice)
This juice is super healthy too.
All you need are again, 3 ingredients. Simple is the best, isn’t it?
- Shiso (Purple Perilla) leaves… 300 g (if you can get 3-4 extra green leaves, it is better)
- Sugar … 500grams to 1 kilogram, depending on how sweet you want it to be.
- Citric acid …. 25grams (You can replace it with apple cider vinegar or regular white vinegar)
1. Tear the leaves from the stems. same as the Umeboshi process above. Rinse with water until clean.
2. Boil the leaves in hot water. Add in 3-4 green perilla leaves for extra flavor. Boil for 15 mins on medium heat.
3. After the heat cool down a bit, put the boiled leaves in a colander and keep the boiled water. Squish the leaves in the colander on top of the pot to get all the juice out and into the pot.
4. Add sugar and cook on low heat until all sugar dissolves.
5. After cooling the pot down a bit, add citric acid, mix in well and keep it in the fridge.
and you get you some fresh shiso juice concentrate. When you drink it, mix it with some water or sparkle water. Enjoy!
Note* I dont really like the sweet taste so I may use less than 500 grams, but when you don’t use much sugar there is a higher chance for molding. so make sure you add at least 250 grams.
You can keep it in the fridge for 6 months.