Pickled Plum. 梅干、うめぼし
"An umeboshi a day keeps the doctor away."
Although generally called "plums", ume (Prunus Mume) are in fact something between a plum and an apricot (but we will keep up the plum tradition). The bets name would in fact be "ume."
The plums are plucked before they are completely ripe.
While still green, ume are harvested and cured with sea salt for several months. The result: an extremely sour mouthful!
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Umeboshi are usually colored red with red shiso leaves, a natural method. The best (and largest) plums come from Nanko in Wakayama Prefecture. Nowadays, you find umeboshi with various additional flavorings as honey or even wine or mango.
Umeboshi are eaten as pickles on rice. A bento consisting only of rice and a red plum was called "Hinomaru (Japanese flag) Bento."
Kayu (rice gruel) is also usual served with a pickled plum.
My start of the day consists of a cup of bitter green tea with one or two umeboshi on the side - I eat them with chopsticks, but other people put them in the tea. This is an excellent way to wake up, and also considered as healthy as the umeboshi cleans the body.