The Ume Project: Foraging
Yoko and I tagged along with Sylvan of Peko Peko last week to forage for ume (Japanese plums aka Prunus mume). We had been planning this for weeks, going back and forth and patiently waiting for the perfect moment to pick the ume, from a tree in the backyard of Sylvan's friend's home. Yes, we do stuff like this in California. [Dreamy].
This tall, regal, ume tree towered above us over 20 feet high. Good thing we brought two ladders.
I started hearing more about 'foraging' soon after arriving to Oakland. It's still really bizarre to me, the idea of going out and taking fruit and flowers from people's backyard trees. Imagine doing this in the cutty cuts of Brooklyn. HA!
The season for this fruit is incredibly short. If you blink, you might miss them. We needed them to be ripe, but not TOO ripe, as they do need to retain some of the tartness for what we would be making. They are such finicky creatures. Besides, this year with all the dank cold and rain, the tree did not bear fruit as early as usual.
Sylvan climbed the tree, while Yoko and I wobbled atop ladders, and we went to work.
Risking our lives for ume.
Ume, perfect for the pickin.
Yoko, don't fall!!! I say this cause I almost fell off the ladder. You are not surprised.
We literally picked EVERY SINGLE plum off that tree. Hooray!
What will we be doing with these little apricot-like fruit? We'll be making umeboshi and umeshu (plum liqueur). Yoko made umeshu in Tokyo a few years ago, remember?
About eight pounds of ume.
Stay tuned for the pickling!