Umeboshi are pickled Japanese plums, which are used as a condiment in Japanese cuisine.
To make umeboshi, Japanese plums, called Ume, are soaked in brine with red shiso leaves, which add flavour and a pinkish red colour. These pickled plums have a tart flavour and are also extremely salty!
If you’re using umeboshi for the first time, be sure to add a little at a time as the flavour is very strong. Just a small bite of umeboshi can make your mouth pucker from the sour taste and extreme saltiness.
While umeboshi is often served on top of plain white rice, you can also use it in marinades and dressings, like in my Beet Umeboshi dressing.
You can find whole umeboshi (pictured above) and umeboshi paste in some Asian markets and gourmet grocery stores. The Japanese grocery that I bought mine from had different variations of umeboshi plums in the cold section of their store. I bought two kinds, and preferred the one labelled “Shiso Umeboshi” as it was a bit sweeter than the Tsubo Ume pickle.
You can also find these products online. I have tried the Eden Umeboshi Paste, which is available on Well.ca and on Amazon. It tastes alright, but it’s very expensive.
Personally, I prefer the flavour of the whole umeboshi which is found in the fridge section of speciality stores. Whole umeboshi is also available online from Amazon, but they are likely not the kind that needs to be refrigerated. Still, it’s a decent option if you cannot find umeboshi in your area.