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Umeboshi Plums Ferment Into the American Market

April 5, 2016
Pucker up for umeboshi, a tart, salty-sweet pickled plum that boasts great flavor and health benefits.

The next time you let a cocktail—or glass(es) of wine or beer—get the best of you, reach for some umeboshi the next morning before you reach for an aspirin.

If you’re asking “ume what?” right now, know that you aren’t alone.

While these fermented and salted plums are a staple in Japan, this quirky ingredient is just starting to make a splash in the American wellness scene. It’s likely you’ve already tried umeboshi in a sushi roll without even knowing it.

Sweet, sour and salty all at once, umeboshi plums are highly alkalinizing, meaning that they can help with digestion and balance out some of the damage that acidic foods (sugar, refined flour, alcohol, etc.) do. They’re also good sources of iron and thiamin as well as electrolytes like sodium and potassium.

We’re wild about the umeboshi from Boulder, Colorado-based Ozuké, a company dedicated to the art of small-batch fermentation. Owner Willow King recommends using them for wicked headaches, as a post-food poisoning snack or to battle a bout of nausea or motion sickness.

Since stocking our kitchen with the plum in various forms, we’ve been sprinkling tangy plum vinegar over salads. A morning mug of warm water mixed with invigorating umeboshi concentrate is a great swap for the tried-and-true lemon variation.

But our favorite application is a 30-second superfood “taco”: Grab a sheet of nori, fill it with a swipe of umeboshi paste or a pitted whole umeboshi, add some avocado slices and greens (like pea or sunflower sprouts). Fold it like a taco and munch your way to satisfaction (and a higher level of alkalinity).

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