Umeboshi (Pickled Ume Plum) Recipe

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Photo by Ali Donzé Photography

This potent medicinal pickle is made with the unripe ume plum. Serve these strongly salty, aromatic gems with rice or as part of ochazuke, a dish made with rice, green tea, seaweed, and green onions.

Ferment: Bacterial
Prep: 5 minutes
Time: 1 to 2 months
Yield: 4 cups

This recipe calls for sun drying, so plan to make it when you’ll have several days of warm sunshine. If unripe ume plums are unavailable, unripe apricots can be used instead.

Unripe ume plums
Photo by Adobe Stock

You Will Need

  • 1 lb. (450g) unripe ume plums or apricots
  • 2 oz. salt
  • 1/4 cup neutral alcohol, such as shochu or vodka
  • 5 to 10 red shiso (preilla) leaves (optional)
  • 1 1-quart (1l) jar


  1. Remove stems from ume, using a toothpick if needed. Place in medium bowl and cover with water. Soak for 8 to 10 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain water and rinse ume with neutral alcohol to reduce chance of mold.
  3. Pack ume in a 1-quart (1l) jar, adding a layer of salt between each layer of ume. Screw lid on tightly and let sit at room temperature for 3 weeks.
  4. After 3 weeks, remove ume from jar, reserving the brine. Spread ume in a single layer on a screen and dry in the sun for 3 days (bring inside at night to prevent them from becoming wet with dew).
  5. Once the ume are shriveled and the salt has begun to come to the surface (you will see a thin white salt crust), return to a jar with red shiso (if using) and reserved pickling brine.
  6. Cover tightly with lid and age for another 3 to 4 weeks at room temperature. For a refined umeboshi, age for 1 to 3 years.

Fermenting Food Step by Step shows you how to master the fermenting process with more than 80 step-by-step recipes – plus you’ll learn about the history and processes of fermentation throughout. For thousands of years, cultures around the world have practiced fermenting as a way to preserve food, and its health benefits now are at your fingertips. Adam Elabd includes more than 80 recipes covering fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy, breads and grains, and even beverages like kombucha. From pickles and sauerkraut to kefir and yogurt smoothies to sausages and corned beef, every meal and snack is delectable.

Excerpted from Fermenting Food Step by Step, reprinted by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2015 by Adam Elabd. Photos by © Ali Donzé Photography.

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