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“Peach-boshi” (Part 2) by Cynthia Briscoe

“Peach-boshi” (Part 2) by Cynthia Briscoe In a previous post, we discussed the idea of substituting green peaches to replace the ume fruit traditionally used to make umeboshi. Not too many folks have an ume tree growing in their yard, but they might have access to an apricot tree or a peach tree. A few Japanese-specific grocers may sell fresh ume fruit in June, but again, this proves to be an exceptional find and is most likely not organic. When David and I lived in Kansas City, I ordered three ume trees from a nursery in Washington. The Midwest is actually not conducive to growing ume, but in my youthful enthusiasm, I planted them regardless. The trees will live, but very rarely do they bear fruit. Late frosts, common to the region, freeze the blossoms and consequently, no fruit will be produced that year. I found a good rule of thumb before planting an ume tree is to find out whether apricots grow locally, since apricots are the closest relative to ume. Also check with your Agricultural Extension Service concerning the growing success for apricots. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that in Kansas City, apricot trees bear fruit once every 7 to 11 years! So much for growing and making my own umeboshi in Kansas!  Perhaps though, if I had been more creative, I could have made “peach-boshi”. Here in California, our ume tree blooms in January. Our peach tree blooms later in the spring. It has never failed to produce fruit, but even here, the ume blossoms sometimes receive frost. Often the ume blossom time here corresponds with many solid days of rain, making it impossible for the bees to get out and pollinate. Due to my love of summer peaches, it seems a little sacrilegious to pick all the peaches green.  So I plan to pick some of the peaches while they are still green to make “peach-boshi”, and leave the rest to mature and ripen.  Then I can enjoy “peach-boshi” and fresh sweet peaches, too! Another necessary component in making umeboshi or “peach-boshi” is an herb called shiso. Shiso is also known as perilla or beefsteak. The purple shiso is the variety used to impart the red color to umeboshi. Shiso is very rich in iron and calcium. It also boasts anti-bacterial properties. Traditionally, fresh shiso leaves are served as a garnish with sushi containing raw fish, as it protects against fish poisoning, just in case the fish is tainted.      Shiso is easy to grow your own shiso in any...

“Peach-boshi” – Making Umeboshi with Peaches? (Part 1) by Cynthia Briscoe

“Peach-boshi” – Making Umeboshi with Peaches? (Part 1) by Cynthia Briscoe The peach is my all-time favorite fruit.  I’m sure this is the result of childhood memories of climbing the peach tree with my Missouri farm cousin and picking only the ripest, juiciest, red-cheekiest, sun-warm peaches right off the tree. We delighted in the heavenly stickiness dripping from our mouths and down our elbows as it stuck a day’s worth of summer play dirt to our shirts.  To even think of picking peaches while still hard and green would never have entered my mind back then.  But recently I spied small green peaches lacing the boughs of an abandoned peach tree.  Valiantly, the tree had survived neglect and drought and yet still generously offered the kindness of fruit.  Undersized from lack of water, at first I thought the small green fruits might be unripe apricots.  But no, the apricots had already come and gone. I remembered Mr. Muramoto, author of ‘Healing Ourselves’ had creatively substituted apricots, for lack of ume, and created what he called “apri-boshi”.  “Hmm…why not try green peaches?” I thought.  And so this experiment has begun....

Planting Our First Tea Bush For Making “Twig Tea”

Planting Our First Tea Bush For Making “Twig Tea” by David Briscoe Sunday, May 18, 2014 , we planted our first tea bush in hopes that some day we can make our own kukicha “twig tea,” as well as green leaf tea. Our goal is to little by little attempt to make as many of the foods as we can that are usually imported for use in a traditional macrobiotic diet. Of course, it’s possible to have a macrobiotic diet without using twig tea, but we thought it would be fun and interesting, and more economical, to grow the tea that we personally like to use often. The tea bush pictured is one of five we will be planting to make a hedge that we hope will produce enough tea for us and our family. The variety we chose is the kind that is commonly cultivated in Japan. It produces smaller leaves and more stems. One of the benefits of twig tea that we appreciate the most is its alkaline support in the body. When properly prepared, the twigs release their minerals into the water, creating a mineral-rich alkaline brew. We make twig tea from the loose twigs, not from kukicha tea bags. The tea bags don’t release the same amount of minerals into the water, since simply steeping the tea bag in a cup of hot water doesn’t allow much of the twigs mineral content to be released. We prefer cooking the loose twigs for 15-20 minutes. Loose kukicha tea twigs can be purchased at many natural foods stores, or bought online. If the resulting tea seems too dark or too concentrated for you, simply add more water until it’s the color and dilution that you prefer. We hope you’ll come and visit us at the Macrobiotics America “Whole Way House” in Oroville, CA, to share a cup of tea with us! Visit us at...

Umeboshi: In the Kitchen or Medicine Cabinet?

by Cynthia Briscoe Umeboshi is useful  in both the kitchen and in the medicine cabinet.  This little wrink led salty and pickled fruit is a dynamo.     In the kitchen its tangy flavor adds pizazz and zing to many dishes and dressings.  In the medicine cabinet, it arm wrestles hangovers, diarrhea, the flu, headaches and upset stomachs.  It is a mercenary for the ‘bad guy bacteria’ that make you sick, and at the same time a champion for the ‘good guy bacteria’ that keep your engine purring and your blood quality from running amok.  If Eve had offered Adam an umeboshi instead of an apple, well, I think the history of mankind may have been decidedly different! A unique marriage, through the fermentation of a simple trio of ingredients, creates the health-giving properties of umeboshi.  The star of the show is a small, often misunderstood fruit called ume (ooh-may).  For starters, it was mistranslated along the way as “plum,” when actually its closest kin is the apricot.  The skin is lightly fuzzy like an apricot, not smooth like a plum.  It is harvested while still firm and green and is very sour, even when it is ripe.  The second ingredient is purple shiso, a plant from the mint family with unique antiseptic properties.  It is prepared and layered in the crock with the ume and gives the final umeboshi a natural reddish hue.  Shiso is also known as ‘perilla’ or ‘beefsteak’.  Shiso can combat food poisoning, viruses, colds, inflammation, indigestion and asthma, to name a few.  The high quality sea salt is a key player as well, creating a sodium-balanced alkaline environment for ‘friendly’ bacteria to make a home and raise their families both in the crock and within your body when ingested. SPECIAL LESSONS AND THANKS REGARDING MY HOMEMADE UMEBOSHI My great teacher, Cornellia Aihara, taught me the value of these small incredible pickled fruit and how to make them.  Many products such as umeboshi, miso, and shoyu are primarily available as imports from Japan, but Cornellia encouraged her students to to be self sufficient and ecological by teaching us how to make many specialty foods at home.   “Importation too wasteful,” she’d say to us, and “What if boat stops coming? What will you do?” This spring shortly after moving and distributing my compost, I was amazed to discover ume seedling everywhere I had distributed compost.  Baby ume trees sprouted in my garden, in the flower beds and even in the tall flower urns flanking our front door. ...

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