Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Extraordinary Ume

I love when things can used for more than one purpose or just having the right tool for the job. Things that work well. That's what Ume is in the kitchen or medicine chest. These ancient Japanese wonders work surprisingly well for many things. Upset tummy. Use Ume. Hangover. Ume to the rescue. Skin rashes - ume often helps. Indigestion, colds, flu, or just feeling run down - ume, ume ume can make you feel better.

I find them to taste horrible because I'm not such a fan of the sourness and salty is hardly what I was raised with. My medicines were sugar coated. Ume plums are picked green and then pickled with a red beefsteak leaf that turns them a strong dark pink color. Be sure you are getting the real deal and not something dyed.

Outside of the U.S. pickled foods are much more common because they help us digest our food. (think sauerkraut with bratwurst....) Somehow we forgot this traditional wisdom and have created shelves of digestive aids from tums to tagament and every antacid in between. What would be even better than synthetic sips from an Rx bottle is the simple traditionally made Ume in all it's various forms.

Umeboshi pickled plums go farther than any pickle has gone before. They are antibacterial but seem to be able to destroy the bad bacteria while keeping the good. You can also get Ume concentrate that doesn't have any salt. It works well as a tea with all the same medicinal gifts. There are little portable Ume plum balls in packs for the pocket or purse and then the brine leftover from making the plums is sold as Ume Vinegar. This is wonderful to use in cooking. Not as strong medicinally but it is alkaline and not acid like other vinegars you've tried.

In fact, using Umeboshi in cooking adds great flavor, strength and prevents troubles before they start. I like the flavor much better when melded in with other things. It's strong by itself. Keep them on hand all the time so when you feel out of sorts you can quickly right yourself right from your own kitchen!!!

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