The nagging rain of the tsuyu season isn’t quite so intolerable when the home is filled with the floral scent of crisp ume plums. Hard to imagine from this oozing sweet scent the full-bodied tang their flesh possesses. A word of warning to those curious daredevils: never consume an unripe plum unless you’re willing to writhe in agony. Processed plums are said to be medicinal, but untreated plums are indubitably potent in that they will induce cyanide poisoning.
This is my third year of plum-pickle making, and I am as willing as ever to toil away in joyful exuberance. The tactile pleasure of fondling the velvety plums is almost as entrancing as kissing the cheek of a delicious newborn. Besides, good quality plum pickles are so hard to come by these days that it makes sense to make them myself. Sure, I can find stacks of pickled plums sold in the supermarkets, but most of them are adulterated—tasteless phonies with chock-full of additives.
The plums arrived only this morning, and I have spread them out across a tray for them to ripen a little longer. In a day or two, they will be salted and be left in a container to pickle in their own brine; to be forgotten until the scorching sunshine of late July. By then, the plums will have become as soft as my love handles, and will be ready to endure three days of basking in intense heat. Some recipes tell you to leave the plums outdoors for three whole days, but that’s just insane. We’re not trying to make dried-up fruit here. The key to making supple pickled plums is to let the plums dry out during daytime for three consecutive days, but always remembering to dip them back in the brine each evening. Following that, leave them outdoors for the next three nights to absorb plenty of night dew for them to become tender.
I will try and update you on my progress.