Grilled as you like it

Ume July 12, 2008

Filed under: Cooking,Four seasons in Japan,Japan,Maebashi — laurel @ 6:40 pm
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I’ve been writing recently about some uses for ume. I’ve been taking some pictures of ume fruits on the trees around town lately too. Most ume are harvested green, but they will turn yellow as they ripen. So what is ume anyways? It’s often called Japanese plum, but actually it is closer to an apricot. The skins are a bit fuzzy and they turn yellow blushed with red when they are ripe. They are not eaten fresh, but are preserved in various ways such as in jam, syrup, or alcohol. The most common preservation method is probably umeboshi, the salty pickled ume that are often served with your breakfast or lunchtime rice. Different preservation methods are used depending on the stage of ripeness, and the ume can be used from when they are just marble-sized and still green (for umeboshi) to full sized and in varying shades from green, to yellow-green with a slight blush to yellow. There’s a handy chart (in Japanese) here that shows what methods are best to use for each color.

yellow ume on the tree in the parking lot of my apartment taken last week | ao-ume (green ume) taken a few weeks ago | half-ripe ume on the tree in the parking lot taken last week


2 Responses to “Ume”

  1. Evelyne Talbot Says:

    Thank you very much for these recipes. I live in Cornwall, UK and have some Ume from my little bush. It is only two years planted but the fruit are already quite big. Anyway I just picked them off the ground. They are cer hard – harder than apples- and yellow. I noticed you said your recipe was for green Ume and not yellow ones. Does this mean one should use less sugar or do something else with the yellow ones?
    Thanks for any insight. 😊

    • laurel Says:

      I made some ume jam recently with ume that I had harvested and but then got too busy to cook them, so they got pretty ripe before I got around to cooking with them. They are still very sour even when they are yellow, so you might want to use the full amount of sugar. The biggest difference that I noticed is that the yellow ones can become quite soft, so they don’t have enough pectin to make a firm jam. Mine came out more like sauce than jam. If your ume are still firm, they will probably make a nice jam.

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