What makes Japanese?

Umebosi (Japanese salted plums)/梅干し

This article can be read in about 8 minutes.

Japanese people love plum blossoms because of its aromatic fragrance and first blossoms after the long winter ends. 

There is the oldest anthology of waka poems, called “Manyoushuu” which was compiled between the late 7th and 8th centuries.
According to this, there are 120 poems about Japanese plum blossoms, while there are only 42 poems about cherry blossoms.
We could guess how cherished Japanese plum blossoms were.

It’s good news that Japanese plum trees have fruits.
FYI, cherry blossom trees don’t have fruits.
The immature Japanese plums that is green in color has blue acid, so people avoid eating it raw.
It’s said that the blue acid causes breathing trouble and dizziness.
Although the mature ones that is yellow in color don’t have the blue acid. 
It’s not common to eat these, too.
Japanese people have pickled them and made alcohol since the old days.

This pickle is called Umebosi, Japanese salted plums.
It includes citric acid, so it’s said to be good for fatigue prevention and recovery from physical exhaustion. 

We’ll share how to make Umebosi, Japanese salted plums below.

How to make Ume-bosi (Japanese salted plums).

  1. Wash Japanese plums and let them dry under the sun for half a day.
    Bamboo baskets are used.
  2. Put Japanese plums and salt into a container.
    And knead them until the salt coats each Japanese plum.
  3. Press them with a weight so that the liquid comes out from the Japanese plums.
    It usually takes three to seven days for Japanese plums to be completely submerged.
    The weight is usually twice as heavy as that of the Japanese plums.
    After the liquid submerges the Japanese plums, the weight should be reduced to the same weight of the Japanese plums.
    We call this liquid “Ume-zu” or “white Ume-zu”.
    It literally means white vinegar from the Japanese plums.
    On the other hand, there is the “red Ume-zu” which is mentioned in step no. 10.
  4. Remove the leaves of the red Shiso, Japanese herbs, from the stems and wash them.
  5. Knead the red Shiso leaves with a pinch of salt and red Ume-zu (from last year if you have).
    Throw the black liquid because it is bitter.
  6. Knead the red Shiso leaves again until the leaves are softened.
  7. Layer Japanese plums and the red Shiso leaves one after another.
  8. Let them rest in a cool place until canicular days come.
    It means 18 days before the beginning of autumn which falls around August seventh.
  9. Dry them under the sun for three days during  canicular days.
    The sunny days are expected during  canicular days.
    The scorching summer sunshine has disinfective effect.
    During the night time, the Japanese plums should be returned to the container and submerged so that the color will be enhanced.
  10. Put them in a container to age them.
    Since their acid is strong, they will be ready to eat after one year or half a year.
    The taste will be milder.
    The liquid is called “red Ume-zu”.
    It is used as a dressing, making pickles and so on.

Tips: The salt ratio should be higher than 13 % of its weight in order to avoid mold.
It’s possible to lower the salt ratio to 7 %  when it is kept in the refrigerator.
When you pickle the Japanese plums with salt, you can add 100 ml of Shochu or distilled spirit to avoid mold.
Also, when red Shiso leaves are added, Shochu or distilled spirit might be sprayed in the container due to the same reason.

How do you make the pickles in your country?
What are some popular pickles there?
Comment below!






  1. 梅を洗い、半日ほど天日干しする。竹籠を使う。
  2. 梅と塩を甕に入れる。塩が梅にコーティングされるまで揉む。
  3. 梅から梅酢(白)が出るように重石を乗せておく。
  4. 赤紫蘇の葉をちぎり、洗う(砂ついているから)。
  5. ひとつまみの塩と昨年の赤梅酢があれば入れて、赤紫蘇を揉む。
  6. 赤紫蘇が柔らかくなるまで、揉む。おにぎりボール作る。
  7. 梅と赤紫蘇を交互に甕に入れる。
  8. 日陰の涼しいところで、土用まで保管。立秋(8/7頃)前の18日間を夏の土用と呼ぶ。
  9. 土用干しをする。
  10. 瓶に入れて熟成する。

コツ: 梅がカビないように、塩分濃度を13%以上にすること。




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I love Japan. So, you could ask us anything about Japan.

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