We Ship Alcohol

This post is rather late, for which I apologize. Er, about a month late. SORRY! Where has all the time gone? How is it already mid-September? I look outside and the leaves are turning color. The light gives off a deeper glow. It is dark at 7:30pm.

Sigh. San Francisco's (non-existent) summer is officially over.

So... let me continue today with my Umeboshi Project with Sylvan of Peko Peko Catering, which we started back in July. You saw that we foraged the plums ourselves in Berkeley, made plum liqueur, and started the pickling process for umeboshi.

About a month after salting the plums, we went onto the ever-important step for making umeboshi: adding the aka-shiso (a Japanese variety of perilla leaves that are red/purple on one side, green on the other. Not to be confused with the Korean variety, which is a deep purple on both sides).

Sylvan searched high and low for the aka-shiso. And not just a few stems--typically, you want about 10% of your weight in ume, in shiso. So this was no small amount of shiso, considering we had about five pounds of plums that we were pickling.

Then, Maya Shiroyama, of Kitazawa Seed Company, came to our rescue. Turns out that her parents have shiso growing out the ying yang in their yard. HOORAY!


Four of us gathered in the Peko Peko clubhouse on a Monday morning to get to work. We carefully washed all the shiso that Maya so kindly brought over. And washed. Then re-washed. Ad infinitum.

Look at how much shiso we had? Tubfuls!


Liberally sprinkle salt over the shiso.


Now, massage the shiso gently, to take out as much liquid as possible. GO!





Yoko's tub of shiso yielded this little ball.

After all the shiso massaging, this is all that was left.

The tubs of purple liquid is like gold--it is ume-zu, aka ume vinegar.

Alright, now back to the plums, which have pickled into a lovely golden color:


Add the aka-shiso.

The shiso is the main component for turning umeboshi into its signature deep purple hue.

Mix around so the shiso is evenly distributed.

Remember our umeshu (aka plum liqueur)?


Plum shriveled to oblivion.

Sylvan wanted a sweeter umeboshi, so we took out some of the pickling fluid, and replaced with the umeshu. Smart!





And now, wait another month.

Stay tuned for the final step: Drying!