The fruits are picked at the end of June when they are green and unripe and at the peak of their acidity. The plums are then pickled with salt and the red leaves of a medicinal herb called shiso or beefsteak. They are then aged for a year or longer, and the pickled umeboshi come out small and shriveled with a reddish hue from the shiso leaves. They taste salty and sour due their high citric acid content.
Umeboshi is a traditional food that is believed to have originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. The Japanese have been eating umeboshi plums for centuries, with an early reference to these pickled plums dating back to the 10th century. They were traditionally eaten by everyone from the daimyo to sumo wrestlers, and by samurai who ate them to ward off battle fatigue.
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