Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sip, Pucker, Release: Serving up the Ume Hachimitsu

I find it impossible to resist seasonal fruit and interesting sounding recipes. Batches of blueberry jam - one recipe which resulted in a spread that tastes just like my mother's blueberry pie - as well as pesto and tomato sauce are just a few recent examples. Even though in many ways it's not necessary to do these things, I find great satisfaction of filling our shelves and freezer with homemade goodness.

So, near the end of ume season I spotted a recipe for Ume Hachimitsu. A non-alcoholic version of umeshu made with equal parts ume, vinegar, and honey it sounded delightful and interesting. And, since I was setting the umeboshi to dry I thought I'd better do the same for the ume hachimitsu plums, too.

Still green as they were not graced with the company of red shiso leaves and still a bit hard as they didn't have salt massaging them for weeks on end, the hachimitsu plums resemble little green brains. (It's not an attractive metaphor, but it is accurate.) I'm not entirely sure what I'll use them for, but I plan to start asking around to see what I can find. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, the hachimitsu is the drink of the summer. On its own it is tremendously sour and causes the face to pucker uncontrollably with that hint of honey sweetness at the end thankfully releasing the tension. The vinegar gives it a bit of a spicy swing, to boot, and on my first sip-pucker-release I was hooked. We mix it with cold sparkling water for a wonderfully cooling beverage, and once even a bit of ginger sake slipped in, too. Lovely.

Next year? Without a doubt. Only one batch? Very doubtful. I'll be lining our kitchen with this little brew.

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