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Pickled Plums

Kale, berries, salmon – these are just some of the many foods that have earned the distinction of “superfood”. But there is only one superfood approved by battle-hardened warriors, and that is pickled plum. In Japan, the pickled plum is an important part of the diet of samurai warriors. They eat pickled plums believing that this food gives them the energy boost they need, especially when they are fighting. Today, you don’t need to be a samurai to appreciate what pickled plums can do for you and your health. Many people all around the world eat and enjoy pickled plums simply because these are very delicious and very nutritious too!

Pickled Plum Trivia

  • In Mark Jackson’s book entitled The Routledge History of Disease, he mentioned the shrewd pickled plum businessman in 17th century Japan who convinced the people his product can help keep the people protected from the pandemic, but authorities later found out he only said this to boost the sales of his pickled plums.
  • Japanese folk medicine uses pickled plums to help cure dysentery and fight typhoid fever.
  • Hinomaru bentō – white rice with one red pickled plum in the middle – resembles the Japanese flag.
  • One account of the history of pickled plums in Japan noted that there was a time when the Japanese considered pickled plums as medicine only and not food meant to be eaten regularly. Pickled plum became part of the regular diet in the 19th century.

Pickled Plum Buying Guide

If you are buying pickled plum, you can find it in the gourmet section of the supermarket or in the aisle that features canned, pickled, or preserved foods.

Consider these when buying pickled plums. 

Pickled plums are available in big supermarkets and grocery stores. In Texas, you can find big food brands sold in major retail locations. For example, Walmart in Texas has different brands of pickled plums for customers to choose from.

When buying pickled plums, we recommend you go local! There are many small, local, artisanal businesses that make small-batch pickled plums, usually using their surplus plums from their farm or backyard garden.

When buying pickled plums, check the packaging. Make sure there is no damage or anything that suggests the contents inside have been compromised and rendered unsafe to consume. Check if the plastic seal is intact. Inspect the contents inside (jars are usually transparent or see-through, allowing you to see the contents of the jar).

If you have certain dietary restrictions, check the label. You can find kosher and GMO-free pickled plums.

When buying pickled plums, check if the pit has been removed or not. This is important especially if you are serving pickled plums to children. They might swallow the pit, a potential choking hazard. Just make sure to remove the pit before serving pickled plum.

Pickled Plum Production & Farming in Texas

The peak season for harvesting plums in Texas is from June to August. According to Texas A&M, Japanese plums are better-suited to Texas climate compared to European plums. If you want homemade pickled plums or small-batch pickled plums sourced locally, this is the time of the year when you can expect to find jars of homemade, small-batch, locally-sourced pickled plums in farmers markets, farm stands, and other local points of sale in your area.

Santa Rosa (Prunus salicina ‘Santa Rosa’) is a popular plum that grows throughout Texas. It can grow in USDA zones 5 through 9 and will produce large, purple plums that ripen in late June. Other plum species found in Texas are ‘Bruce’ (Prunus salicina ‘Bruce’), a large, red plum that can grow in USDA zones 6 through 8, its ripe fruits ready for harvest in late spring, and the species called Methey (Prunus salicina ‘Methey’) which can grow in USDA zones 5 through 9.

Commercial plum growers harvest and provide food companies with plums that meet the food safety standards for the commercial production of pickled plums. Once the harvested plums are delivered, these will be cleaned and processed for canning. These jars will be sealed, labeled, and stored in boxes for delivery to different point-of-sale locations.

Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals

A jar of pickled plums may contain these additives.

  • Acetic Acid – This is used to make the food taste sour.
  • Calcium Chloride – This is used as a firming agent. This is also used to give food, especially pickled and fermented vegetables like pickled plum, a salty taste, without increasing the food’s sodium content.
  • DL malic acid – This is a flavoring agent that can give food a tart taste
  • FD&C Red #40 – This food coloring helps enhance the red color of pickled plums.
  • Sodium benzoate – Also called benzoic acid. This is added to improve the shelf life of pickled plums.
  • Synthetic citric acid – This is used as a preservative or to add an acidic or sour taste to food.
  • Synthetic succinic acid – This is an acidity regulator and a flavoring agent.


In Japan, pickled plums are a popular food, known locally as umeboshi. Pickled plums are also common in other Asian countries like India, the Philippines, Vietnam, China, and Korea. Countries like Mexico and South Africa also make pickled plums.

In the US, there is a market for pickled plum. There are many important pickled plum brands sold in US stores.


Pickled plums are sold in glass jars or plastic bottles. Check the plastic seal. It should be intact. If this is broken or damaged, the product may have been tampered with and the quality and safety have been compromised. Do not buy pickled radish with damaged safety seals, or those that have other signs of damage like cracks on the bottle. 

An important part of the packaging is the label, which contains important information for the consumers, including the name of the manufacturer, expiration or best-before date, ingredients, nutritional information, storage instruction, etc. 

Enjoying Pickled Plums

Pickled plum has a salty, sour, sweet flavor. It is commonly eaten as a snack, dessert, or appetizer. In Japan, it is common to eat pickled plum with rice. 

A downside to pickled plum is its high sodium content. Pickled plums need to have a high sodium content because without it, the fruits will mold. So if your doctor does not want you to eat high-sodium food, eat pickled plum in moderation, or better yet, consult your doctor first.


Refrigerate pickled plums after opening the jar. It will keep for 2 months if refrigerated. Always close the jar to protect the pickled plums inside from contamination.


It is easy to make pickled plums. Prepare a brine, soak the plums, and give the pickling process enough time to process the plums until it is ready. Details vary depending on how you want your pickled plum to taste and how you want your plums in terms of consistency.

You can add pickled plums to salads and soups. You can use it as an ingredient when making sushi.

Nutritional Benefits:

Pickled plums are a great source of energy. It also contains vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, manganese, potassium, and protein. Pickled plums are good for stomach health. Eating pickled plums can help prevent nausea. It is also believed to help in managing a hangover. In Japan, rice congee with pickled plum is a common folk remedy for flu. Pickled plums can help stimulate the liver to detoxify the body.  



  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 26 1%
  • Carbs: 5.7g 2%
  • Sugar: 2.8g 6%
  • Fiber: 0g 0%
  • Protein: 0g 0%
  • Fat: 0g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 1170.9mg 49%
  • Vitamin C 0mg 0%
  • Vitamin A 0IU 0%
  • Calcium 0mg 0%
  • Iron 0mg 0%
  • Potassium 25mg 1%

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