Umeboshi – ancient wisdom in a pickle ...
“Umeboshi” is a very sour pickle made by fermenting plums. You will see umeboshi in Japanese lunch or bento boxes sold in the super market. This is in part to prevent food spoilage, because it is believed umeboshi help prevent bacteria growth. Bento whith a single umeboshi in the center of the rice are called “Hinomaru” bento, after Japan’s flag.
The plums are picked before they are ripe. Then they are heavily salted and pickled, usually with red perilla leaves, for three days or sometimes as long as a year, depending on preference. Next, they are dried for a few days. The fermentation produces vinegar, making the plums very sour. The plum turns red (if red perilla leaves are used), and very soft. Some umeboshi have been pickled for over 50 years and are prized for their complicated flavors.
Reputed benefits: Umeboshi are believed to have remarkable medicinal properties. The strong acidity is said to help neutralize fatigue, stimulate digestion and help rid the body of toxins. Umeboshi are reputed to help ease hangovers.