All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Umezu / plum vinegar

(Red umezu in photo)

While umezu literally means “plum vinegar,” it is not a true vinegar (umezu does not contain acetic acid). Umezu is a salty and sour liquid that comes out of plums in the umeboshi pickling process. During this process, shiro [white] umezu is first produced after plums are salted; after purple perilla leaves are added to color plums, aka [red] umezu is produced. Those who make their own umeboshi at home often keep the liquid for another use. Bottled umezu, both white and red, is available in the vinegar section at some stores (including Uwajimaya in Seattle).

The sourness of umezu is mainly from citric acid. Other substances umezu shares with plums include polyphone, malic acid and minerals such as calcium and iron.

Red umezu is often used for sakura no hana no shiozuke salted cherry flowers as well as to color pale vegetables such as daikon radish, kabu turnip, yamaimo or nagaimo yam and ginger for pickle-type dishes.

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