Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Umeboshi 101

I am not really an ume fan, but after our Osaka excursion, I've been really curious about finding some good ume here. Unfortunately, I have no clue about one ume from another. To me they're all the same . . . SOUR.   So I decided to bone up on my umeboshi facts.  Here's what I found.

Ume is distributed widely in East Asia but its place of origin is in north central China. There are 2000 year old records of the medicinal use of ume. Most of the time ume is translated as Japanese plum and is often marketed as such, but it is really a species of apricot.

Today there are over 20 kinds of edible ume in Japan including the very high quality Nanko-ume. Its pulp is thick and soft and contains a high amount of organic acid. This species of tree also produces a large yield of very high quality fruit every year. Southern Wakayama is the birth place and the leading producer of Nanko-ume. Kishu Umeboshi and Kishu Umeshu are both made with Nanko-ume. 
"Kishu Ume" grows in genial climate and mineral-rich soil of Minami (southern) Kishu region and produces abundant ripe fruits. Minami Kishu is located in the southwestern part of Wakayama prefecture. 

Even before the first orchards were planted, Wakayama's hillsides were abundant with wild plum trees. The area's mild temperatures, year-round plentiful rain, and sheltered geographic situation serve to bring forth the finest and most plentiful fruit in the country.  Nakata Foods is the largest manufacturing firm of ume product in the region.

Although there are several natural producers of pickled plums in Japan, few use the year-long traditional process of Mitoku's supplier, the Sogawa family, and fewer still use organically grown plums and high-quality sea salt.  To be sure you are buying the finest-quality pickled plums, check the ingredients on the label. Sogawa-style Ryujin pickled plums are made with organic plums, organic shiso leaves, and sea salt.

hachimitsu = honey-flavored
% on label = amount of salt
umeboshi = dried plum
umezuke = wet plum
umeshu = plum wine

Below is a picture of a jar of umeboshi that I saw today in Don Quijote.  So, from what I've learned so far, it is Kishu Umeboshi which is from the Kishu region of Wakayama. Which means it is made with very high-quality Nanko ume. Also it is Hachimitsu ume which means it is sweetly flavored with honey.  Sounds good hah!  Don't worry, there were smaller tubs on the shelves below this, so you don't have to fork over 80 bucks if you no like.  Maybe I'll go back and buy one small tub . . . just to try.


Erick said...

Yum, ume.

Leslie's pics said...

mmmmmmmm....ume......I think i'll eat an 11% one now....

jalna said...

You like ume, Erick?

Funny Les!

Anonymous said...

The ones that look like the ones in your picture are so tasty and addicting. You'll find much much cheaper brands at Marukai. I sometimes break um up and mix it with hot rice. So ono. Or make musubi with the mixed rice. Or just eat um by itself. LOL!!! -lance

jalna said...

Hahahaha, you make it sound so ono, Lance!! I'll go check out Marukai soon.