In an effort to incorporate more macrobiotic elements into my diet this year (see 2011 New Year’s Resolutions), I bought a package of Umeboshi Plums this week. Don’t worry if you have never heard of these before, because neither had I. But, lucky for us both I did a bit of research!
Umeboshi (Japanese for “dried ume”) are picked ume (Japanese for plum). They are actually not plums at all, but rather a species of apricots that comes from Japan. Umeboshi Plums are a pickled fruit with an extremely sour and salty flavor.
(Left: fresh Ume Plums Right: pickled Umeboshi Plums)
Umeboshi Plums have been called “the king of alkaline foods”, but what does this mean for our health? Our body is constantly balancing the pH of our blood – trying to prevent overly acidic conditions in which bacteria and viruses thrive. Things like excessive intake of sugar, refined flour products, alcohol, toxins, and animal foods are among a few things that can cause our blood to become too acidic and out of balance. Symptoms characteristic of overly acidic blood conditions include headaches, hangovers, fatigue, diarrhea and nausea (including morning sickness and car/sea sickness).
The alkaline characteristics of the Umeboshi Plum helps to breakdown excess acid, eliminate toxins in the body, and relieve these symptoms. This antibiotic, antiseptic, and digestive aid is also known to be beneficial for water contamination, liver function, the prevention of aging and treating food poisoning and the common cold.
So how do you eat an Umeboshi Plum? If you love the salty/sour taste of pickled foods, you may be courageous enough to eat a plum straight from the container. However, for a more gentle approach, soak an Umebochi Plum for 4-5 minutes in hot water or Kuckicha tea (a Japanese twig tea). Drink the liquid and eat the plum together (careful not to eat the pit!). You can also mix an Umeboshi Plum into brown rice to give it flavor and eat it as part of a meal.
The general macrobiotic recommendation is 2-3 Umeboshi plums per week. Umebochi plums can be found at your local health food store – I found mine in the Asian/Macrobiotic aisle of Whole Foods (see picture below).
Information from Macrobiotic Guide