Spring has already begun and ume or the plums are the heralds of this season. Starting from mid-February ume viewing sites will be opened all across Japan and will be as usual crowded with visitors. After the flower viewing, we can see plum fruits in green colour in most supermarkets. Ume fruits are a preventive food item which has antibacterial properties that can help to soothe the digestive system. It can be consumed in many different ways which all are really delectable.
Seasonal Enjoyment of Viewing Ume Blossoms
Photo : *higetiger on Flickr
The first enjoyment of spring starts with viewing the plum blossoms that are found all over Japan. Even though it seems like having similarity to the cherry blossoms, Ume are quite different from the Sakura flowers. The Ume flowers with round petals, unlike Sakura are easy to distinguish. Also different from the Sakura, they have a nice fragrance too. They are found in many varieties and colours. Colourful Ume flowers ranging from pale white to dark rose are really a feast to the eyes after the dry winter. Selection of a nice spot for viewing plum blossoms is a nice idea to enjoy the beauty of these flowers welcoming the spring season.
By mid-March, the blossoms will all be vanished and give their way to fruits. They are round green fruits which take a yellowish colour with a reddish tan. Most of these fruits can't be eaten like this. But there are some ways by which we can enjoy these fruits.
1. Homemade Plum syrup
In the hot and humid Japanese summer, the plum syrup will be really refreshing. It is really worth trying to make it at home if you have some minutes to spend on that. Please watch the video and go ahead.
I tried making plum syrup last year and enjoyed it a lot. And will certainly do it this time too. The shrivelled plums that are taken out from the syrup are also delicious with a slight sweetness and sourness.
Umeshu is a famous beverage of Japan that is made from the plum fruits. The taste and smell of this alcohol made with Ume fruits are quite different from the other liquors. Many varieties of Umeshu are available. They can be found on the racks of the Japanese supermarkets as well as restaurants.
Umeboshi are the pickled Ume. We can find this in most of the Japanese Obento (lunchboxes). The reddish coloured Umeboshi over white cooked rice look awesome. Umeboshi is considered as a great preventive medicine which is helpful for digestion. It can be made at home also. Even though it is a time-consuming process, it can be preserved for more than two years. I found this video on YouTube that will be helpful for those who wish to try it.
Dried Umeboshi can be stored and enjoyed with Onigiri or Japanese white rice. If you can't spend that much time to make Umeboshi at home, you can find it in your nearest supermarket.
Umezuke is simply Umeboshi before it is getting dried. By escaping the process of drying up the Ume for making Umeboshi, it can be consumed as Umezuke which could also be preserved for a long time.
Umezu is the watery part left while making Umeboshi. This salty juice is preserved to add Ume flavour to various dishes.
In this season of Ume, enjoy viewing various varieties of the plum blossoms and taste the Ume. Ume is having a great part in the Japanese cuisine and it is considered as a gastrointestinal cleanser. As there are many ways for the Japanese to preserve Ume as Umeboshi, Umezuke and so on, it is obvious that seasons don’t matter for tasting them. Apart from all these, we can find Ume flavoured snacks, drinks and desserts available all across Japan.