Eden Ume Plum Vinegar is the treasured by-product of the pickling of umeboshi plums; the liquid left over after pickling the plums. In Japan it is known as 'ume su' meaning plum vinegar. This salty, tangy, ruby red vinegar is delicious sprinkled over cooked vegetables (especially members of the cabbage family). It adds zing to salad dressings and dips, and is great for making other pickled or preserved foods.
When substituting ume plum vinegar for other vinegar, reduce substantially or eliminate the salt in the recipe.
In mid June green unripe ume plums Prunus mume reach peak acidity. They are harvested, washed, soaked in cold water for about 24 hours to remove bitterness, and placed in wooden kegs with alternating layers of sea salt. A flat wooden lid is fitted on top and weighted down with heavy stones. The combination of salt and pressure squeeze the juice out of the plums. The plums naturally ferment for about a month, are removed from their kegs, placed outside and sun dried for about four days. Shiso leaves Perilla frutescens, in English 'beefsteak leaf,' are added to the pickling liquid turning it deep red. The plums are placed back in the kegs, left in the pickling juice for four to five days, removed from the liquid and placed in kegs where they are aged for a year or more. The remaining red liquid or pickling brine is Eden Ume Plum Vinegar. The liquid is lightly filtered.
Eden Ume Plum Vinegar has 4.3 percent acidity. While the natural red color of Eden Ume Plum Vinegar is due to the red shiso leaves, commercial manufacturers of umeboshi plums and vinegar use chemical dyes to impart the red color that is characteristic of these products. Eden Ume Plum Vinegar contains no chemicals, dyes, preservatives or additives.
Asia has a long history and rich tradition of drying, salting, fermenting, and pickling vegetable foods in order to preserve them for use during times of scarcity and as a convenient source of valuable nutrients. The ume plum, also known as the Asian plum or apricot Prunus triflora or P. mume, is one of these traditionally preserved foods. Umeboshi plums have been used for over 2,000 years in China and over 1,000 years in Japan. They were especially valued for their ability to aid digestion. Umeboshi were traditionally used to stimulate appetite, help the body maintain the proper acid/alkaline balance, and restore energy. Shiso leaves natural preservative, 'perilla-aldehyde'is documented to have over one thousand times the strength of synthetic preservatives used in food.