Friday, November 13, 2009

Salted Plums

I grew up next to the Mexican border, sucking saladitos that I bought for a nickel from a box next to the register at the corner store. Better than candy, these salted dried plums made your face and neck pucker, were useful for bets and challenges, and made pop fiz like crazy when you dropped them in the can. I haven't had a saladito in years, but my hankering is satisfied by the Japanese version, umeboshi plums. (You can taste ume in wintergreens' plum vinegar radishes.)

My friend Youko serves ume dishes at her New Paltz eatery, Gomen-Kudasai, and sent this info my about beloved salty snack:
The Japanese are masters when it comes to fermentation and pickling. The ume plum is no exception. When the plum is picked it is fermented in a very specific amount of salt that promotes only an important beneficial bacteria: lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria run the show and prevent harmful bacteria from entering the plum. This probiotic quality of umeboshi, in combination with its other healing properties, provides one of coolest examples of holistic eating.

Umeboshi vs. Conventional Antibiotics

Conventional antibiotics are nutorious for 2 things: gastrointestinal upset, and easy bleeding & bruising. Both of these are rooted in the fact that conventional antibiotics are often (but not always) broad-spectrum antibiotics, meaning: they kill the beneficial bacteria in your gut too! Without friendly gut bacteria, your gut cannot digest food efficiently. Moreover, gut bacteria are primarily responsible for vitamin K production, which is responsible for blood coagulation and keeps our bleeding in check.

There are times when only a presrciption antibiotics should be recommended. However, umeboshi is better used as an antibiotic tonic. A tonic is something which helps the overall functioning of a system over a longer period of time, rather than doing something very specific in a short period of time. Umeboshi is also, like ginger, a gastrointestinal tonic.

So unlike conventional antibiotics, umeboshi works as an effective long term pathogen antibacterial, but at the same time protects (rather than destroys) your gastrointestinal health.
Another random use: ume apparently works as a hangover cure. Though I haven't tested the theory, friend-of-wintergreens Eva said our fermented pickles make for an excellent hangover recovery. If you've overindulged, indulge in a pickle, or drop an ume plum or saladito in your morning seltzer!If you missed the link the first time, Just Hungry illustrates how to make your own umeboshi.

1 comment:

  1. Similar but different to curing a hangover with a saladito dropped in seltzer....during my recent Tucson visit, I drank tequila with saladitos dropped in the glass. Both the tequila and the saladitos benefitted from contact with another. Yum.