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