Explore the health benefits of ume fruit, a Japanese delicacy and medicine
06/04/2021 / By Leslie Locklear / Comments
Explore the health benefits of ume fruit, a Japanese delicacy and medicine

Ume, a fruit that has been a part of Japanese delicacies and traditional medicine, is a superfood that carries a lot of health benefits.

When the fruit is ripe, it is marinated with salt, sun-dried and preserved for months. After that, it is pickled with red perilla leaves, or also known as shiso. The result is what Japanese people call umeboshi — a pickled plum with a lot of history behind it as well as a number of health benefits.

The delicacy has been in use for centuries in Japan for its restorative and preservative properties. In fact, it was used during the country’s Heian Period (794-1185) as medicine and a part of staple food for samurais during the Sengoku period (1467-1568).

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Health benefits of umeboshi

One of the distinct characteristics of umeboshi is its tartness, which is caused by high levels of citric acid. In fact, umeboshi contains the highest citric acid concentration compared to other fruits. The presence of citric acid gives umeboshi the capability to help improve circulation and boost the immune system. This is why in traditional Japanese medicine, it was used to treat colds.

In addition, the umeboshi contains benzoic acid, which contributes to its aroma and ability to preserve food. This is also the reason why umeboshi is commonly put on top of white rice in bento boxes — the Japanese version of lunch boxes.

Moreover, it is also rich in polyphenols, which may help in reducing the risk of diabetes, lowering blood pressure levels, preventing the hardening of the arteries and boosting calcium absorption. Furthermore, the food is also rich in iron, thiamin, and riboflavin. Japanese people also use umeboshi to recover from hangovers and to boost energy.

Not just the pickled version is nutritious, but the ume fruit itself is packed with health benefits. The fruit is known to have the ability to help prevent atherosclerosis, promote liver detoxification, prevent digestive problems such as dyspepsia and bloating, prevent gastric ulcers and freshen breath. Meanwhile, both the ume fruit and the umeboshi are rich in antioxidants.

How to prepare umeboshi

To make umeboshi at home equivalent to 24 servings, all you need are five kilograms of ume fruit and 400 grams of sea salt. First, gather all the ume fruit and place it in a pail, to be soaked overnight in cold water. After that, pour out the water and transfer the ume to a large container. The container can either be made of wood, ceramic or plastic. Then, using your hand, distribute the salt evenly over the ume, just make sure to be delicate in touching the fruit, so that there will be no cuts in the fruit.

Fourth, cover the salted ume with a clean muslin or food-grade plastic. Make sure that it is tightly covered that no air can pass through. Next, store it in a cool, dark spot. After two to three days, check it if the brine has surfaced. If you notice that the brine hasn’t surfaced yet, move the fruits at the top to make sure that all of the ume fruits are concentrated in the brine for several weeks. In addition, regularly check the fruits and make sure that there’s no formation of molds.

After at least three weeks, expose the fruits to sunlight for three days. To make sure that all of the fruits are exposed to sunlight, remove them from the pot and instead spread them on rattan mats or across a wooden frame, for good air circulation. But at nighttime, return the fruit to the containers.

On the third day of drying, remove the brine from the container and put it in a clean jar. The brine is now what they call the umeshu, or vinegar plum. As for the ume fruit, put it in resealable gallon-sized freezer bags, but don’t fill the bags, just half-full will do. There you have it, you may now enjoy your umeboshi.

Follow SuperFoods.news to learn more about amazing foods like umeboshi.

Sources:

JapaneseCooking101.com

Nippon.com

NaturallySavvy.com

Big.com.my

TheSpruceEats.com

KayaWell.com

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