Raw, the fruit is inedible, like an olive before it ripens. But when made into a drink, it turns into a tangy, creamy explosion reminiscent of the sweet and sour taste of favorite childhood treats – Sweet pies, fruit leather, lemon drops.
The fruit is called ume (OOO-mai) and comes from the Prunus mume tree, a close relative of the apricot tree. (Contrary to popular belief, ume is not a type of plum.) And while relatively few ume are planted in California, there are a growing number of creative food and beverage makers working with the fruit, producing spirits, syrups, vinegars and more.