Dried plums — umeboshi in Japanese — are so nutritious that we Japanese go as far as to say that a pickled plum a day keeps the doctor away!
Summer is the season for plums, which are delicious both fresh and made into jams, plum wines and other plum-based drinks.
In Japan, we also love to eat them dried and pickled. Plums preserved in salt are called umetsuke (pickled plums), and these are dried to make umeboshi.
Umeboshi rice balls — the classic Japanese on-the-go snack
One classic way to eat dried plums is wrapped up in an onigiri rice ball.
Making onigiri is easy! Simply place a dried plum in the center of a ball of rice, mold the ball into shape with your hands, sprinkle over a little salt, wrap in nori, and top with a scattering of sesame salt.
The catechin in dried plums also happens to have a potent bactericidal effect which stops food from going off, making a dried plum onigiri the perfect snack to grab when you heading outdoors or are on the go.
Nothing compares to the taste of an onigiri in the great outdoors! They are also a popular addition to bento lunchboxes, since they help keep the whole meal fresh.
Put a spring in your step with umeboshi
The process of turning fresh plums into umeboshi actually increases their level of citric acid, an acid that is key to fighting fatigue.
Fatigue is usually a sign that lactic acid has built up in our muscles, and citric acid helps the body to metabolize, or break down, this lactic acid.
Umeboshi are also an alkaline food. They help improve blood flow by keeping the blood slightly alkaline, while also helping to combat premature aging, improve the complexion, relieve hangovers and prevent food poisoning.
Just remember that Japanese umeboshi are very salty, so don’t eat too many in one go!