Have you ever experienced to taste something invisible without actually tasting it? Well, I have with something sour and acidy, like lemons, grapefruits, oranges... In most cases, these citrus fruits make me feel like I actually taste them even when I am just thinking about them.
When I think or imagine of, let's say, lemons, the saliva gradually spreads in the mouth. I guess the eyes send the image of lemons, the brain reacts instantly towards the image and realizes that lemons are sour, the taste bud misunderstands that one eats lemons, and the the saliva spreads in the mouth.
As for this theory, we can't forget about umeboshi (pickled plums) which give us the exact same experience as citrus fruits do.
Umeboshi is not actually born as a vegetable. Umeboshi is a nickname of plums as a fruit after being prepared. Salt plums and leave them in the container for few weeks, dry them in the sun for few days, and pickle them with vinegar from these plums and shiso leaves together. We (actually, my mom) do this to make the best home-made umeboshi for the family and friends almost every year.
Beautiful red-colored umeboshi have a variety of kinds from big soft ones to tiny crispy ones. Sour and salty are the right words to describe what umeboshi taste like. A source of this sourness that umeboshi and citrus fruits originally have is citric acid which is one of organic acids.
Umeboshi have absolutely amazing nutrition. Calcium, fiber, potassium, sodium and phosphorus under the mineral group, and carotene and vitamin C under the vitamin group are some nutrition that umeboshi contain. Last but not least, citric acid must be the representative nutrient in umeboshi.
Well, then, what umeboshi can do to us?
There are several beneficial effects of eating umeboshi.
1. Relieve fatigue
- Citric acid relates to citric acid cycle in the body which helps us move. We produce necessary energy from taking food to maintain our life. Citric acid is such an essential nutrition to break down food, produce energy to process metabolism, and rotate citric acid cycle. When the citric acid cycle is actively working, our energy is constantly produced to make us keep going. However, when being exhausted or having stress, this cycle would not work properly. So, taking citric acid in umeboshi relieves fatigue quickly.
2. Antioxidant effect
- Citric acid helps mineral in the body be absorbed easily.
3. Sterilize the body system
- Citric acid has a great ability of sterilization. In Japan, umeboshi is placed as a garnish on rice in our lunch box or umeboshi being in rice balls. We place umeboshi everywhere when we don't eat food right after cooked. This means that citric acid in umeboshi prevents bacteria from growing!
1. Soluble fiber
- Fiber has two kinds: soluble or insoluble. Fibers in umeboshi keeps a good balance with having two kinds of fibers. Soluble fiber has viscosity and swell in the stomach and remains in the stomach for a long time. So, soluble fiber relates to prevent from eating too much or obesity
2. Insoluble fiber
- Insoluble fiber gives us feeling of satisfaction as hardness of fiber makes us chew many times that excrete saliva and gastric fluid. Also, insoluble fiber prevents constipation which is so great for women!
1. Enhance muscle movement
- Potassium works with sodium to enhance muscle movement and helps the nerve system work properly. When we don't have enough potassium in the body, the nerve function works ineffectively and produces cramps and swelling.
2. Excrete waste products from the body system
- Potassium excretes excessive waste products from kidney.
1. Enhance muscle movement and the nerve system
- Like mentioned above, working with potassium, enhance muscle movement and the nerve system.
2. Excrete digestive fluid
- Sodium encourages excretion of digestive fluid and helps digestive and absorptive functions.
3. Adjust pH balance in the body
- The body fluid in our body keeps the balance of mild alkaline. Sodium works with potassium and magnesium to keep pH balance stable.
(Partial Reference: Wikipedia)
Most of my foreign friends who have tasted umeboshi before in their life would say, " Too sour!" Yes, umeboshi is unbelievably sour but it tastes so great and less sour when served with rice or something plain taste.
As for the story about umeboshi, I have a friend in Palm Springs and his friend owns the organic restaurant. He took me to her restaurant and I was pleased with every dish she cooked. Anyway, after closing the restaurant, she offered me to stay with her for a night! We kept talking and talking and talking until midnight and we agreed that we were hungry again.
She made us such a healthy and brilliant small dish for us. The dish was served in a small white bowl with thinly sliced cabbages and not-too-hard boiled egg on it with a pinch of umeboshi and sprinkle of sesame seeds!
I was completely shocked for several reasons in a positive way. I was shocked because I didn't know any foreign friends who would add umeboshi to everyday meal so perfectly, because she knew exactly how umeboshi works, and because I have never seen how one could combine umeboshi with regular ingredients (cabbage, egg, sesame seeds) like this!
This was such a pleasant shock and such an original menu! Since then, I do make her recipe sometimes. Ahhhh, I still remember the taste of her special meal!