October 13, 2011
Since July, Yoko and I have been working on umeboshi (pickled plums) with Sylvan of Peko Peko, a Japanese catering company based in Oakland. From picking our own ume from a backyard Berkeley tree, to hunting down enough aka-shiso (red perilla leaves) to help add color to them during the pickling process, we did it all. And here are the fruits of our labor.
The plump ume marinating with the aka-shiso and ume-zu (pickling fluid–>ume vinegar)
Aka-shiso, after extracting all liquid
Sylvan spraying the bamboo drying rack with alcohol to disinfect
These ume did have a nice matte finish, as Yamahomo mentioned is ideal for umeboshi
Lay all plums on the drying rack
Aka-shiso will also be dried, then used as seasoning
Don’t you dare throw out the pickling liquid! This is ume-zu (ume-vinegar), which is like gold
Let them dry in the California sun. Er, Oakland fog. Keep those flies away!
Thanks to all the aka-shiso we added last month, the pinks and peaches of the umeboshi are gorgeous!
Umeboshi porn, oozing with ume goodness
You are supposed to leave them out over night, and turn them over once. They say that you should dip them in the ume-zu when turning, which we did not do.
Overall, our first attempt at making umeboshi was not so shabby! Because we added ume-shu (liqueur) to the pickling fluid, they are quite fragrant, and less intense than your run-of-the-mill umeboshi–although they are still tart, they have a rounded quality to the taste.
In texture, they are plump and soft, and the color is quite dynamic, due to all the aka-shiso we added. Hooray! Sylvan is making shibazuke (a bright, purple pickle) with the ume-zu now.
What would we do different next year? Sylvan mentioned that he would like to use ume that is more ripe (as was Yamahomo’s suggestion in the very beginning). He also would like to dip them in the ume-zu when turning them at the end, as Sylvan thinks they would retain their shape better this way.
I personally would love to make those really sweet, giant, honey-coated umeboshi, that are prized in Japan. Maybe Yamahomo is right, and we should just use apricots next year instead of “plums”.
Thanks to Sylvan for letting us join you for this umeboshi adventure. Looking forward to our 2012 batch!