Umeboshi, an inspiration drawn from Kenneth’s Roux Scholars’ visit to Japan, applied to our local fruits and herbs, is a great way for us to save the local wild plums and to use the perilla herb we have had in abundance this year, to enjoy the tart flavour sensation through the dark parts of the year and to honour a long tradition in all countries of preserving produce that would otherwise go to waste.

We have done this in the traditional way:

  • by harvesting the fruit when absolutely ripe
  • salting the plums with sea salt
  • using the local purple perilla herb, a perfect bedfellow for the floral plum flavours, with ravishing colour
  • placing a heavy press on the fruit leaving it to ferment for a number of weeks and the juices to gather at the bottom,
  • yielding tangy and sharp fruits and a tart fermented liquid of plums, perilla and salt.

Lots of health benefits are claimed for Umeboshi plums, from reducing liver damage, supporting digestion to combating fatigue, so that they are to this day a traditional energy and clarifying morning boost in Japan and in the past were part of a samurai’s field rations.

As Christmas and New Year approach, umeboshi plums are also said to be good for a hangover!

We are using them in the menu for our November wine dinner, where Kenneth and Barny think they will work perfectly with the wild duck and fruitiness of the wine.
As we go through the Winter we will show how we are using them and why.