Although the common misconception that vegans only eat dull vegetables and quinoa is far from true, one ingredient has the power to bring vegan cooking to the next level.
Umeboshi paste, made from pureed, fermented Japanese ume plums, can transform food – and your body.
The paste, which can be included in a variety of dishes, has been used since ancient times as a food, and for medicinal purposes.
As a vegan condiment, umeboshi paste has a thick consistency similar to a jam with a taste that is difficult to describe in one word.
Although it is made from ume fruits, the paste is not sweet as one would expect – rather, it is often described as tangy or salty.
To make the paste, unripened ume are first fermented in salt. After fermenting for two weeks, red perilla leaves, which belong to the mint family, are added to give the paste its bright red colour.
After further drying and fermenting, which can take weeks or months, the ume are transferred to a container where the paste ages.
In Japanese cooking, umeboshi paste is typically found on plain boiled rice, but in vegan cooking the ingredient can be used in various dishes to flavour.
Vegan recipes for lasagne, soups and dressings are all a good fit for the savoury “plum” paste, as well as any dishes looking to replicate the flavour and consistency of creamy cheese.
Apart from being a versatile ingredient, umeboshi paste is also believed to offer numerous health benefits, including an excellent source of iron and calcium, a hangover cure, and powerful antioxidant qualities.
With a variety of uses and a distinct flavour, umeboshi paste is the vegan superfood we’ve been missing.
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