Blazing hot and sunny again today so we're jumping tradition by a day and starting the 3 day drying of the umeboshi the day before the Midsummer Day of the Ox (not dog day!).
The ume have gone from this ...
straight from the tree ...
... to this after 6 weeks, first just being salted and pressed in their own juice, then mixed with the red shiso leaves that turn them pink. They will go back to soak in the vat of ume/shiso juice overnight for the next 3 nights and out to dry in the sun again for the next 3 days. And then they will be dried ume - umeboshi.
After just a few hours drying in the sun they're already getting that familiar umeboshi blush.
The red shiso leaves have gone from this,
before being rubbed in salt ...
... to this, after drying in the sun.
The red shiso turns the clear, almost colourless ume juice a wild, stunning pink which slowly turns the yellowish green ume a pretty pink too.
When the pickled red shiso leaves are dried and crumbled they make a nice tangy, salty sprinkle to go on rice.
Can't resist pinching their soft little cheeks.