Ume Sho Kudzu Macrobiotic Remedy for Digestion, Colds, Nausea and more
Ricetta in Italiano in fondo
My strict macrobiotic love affair may have only lasted 8 months, but what I learned will stay with me forever. It was a crash course in learning to nourish my body naturally and for it’s unique needs. It ignited my passion in all things nutrition and the inner workings of the human body.
I learned about Yin and Yang, the benefits and drawbacks of various cooking methods for different ailments, the medicinal properties of certain ingredients and how remedies could be concocted out of the least likely combinations of food ingredients. It was the first time in my life that I had experienced the idea of food as medicine in such a deliberate way.
What is ume-sho-kuzu?
One of the remedies I learned about, used most often and still use to this day, is Ume Sho Kuzu, a combination of umeboshi plum, shoyu and kuzu (or kudzu) root starch. This combination, while seemingly strange and unlikely (it was to me at one time), is said to benefit digestion due to it’s alkalizing effect on the digestive tract and it’s ability to strengthen the intestinal lining. It is also recommended to fight off the common cold, warm up when you’ve caught a chill, recover from a hangover or as a pick me up when you’re feeling generally sluggish. It was one of the only things capable of quelling my first trimester pregnancy induced nausea, besides sucking on lemons, straight up umeboshi plums and ALL. THE. CAAAARBS!
A closer look at the ingredients
Umeboshi Plums or Japanese Salt Plums are apparently not plums after all, they’re apricots. But I guess things got lost in translation at some point and now they’re known as plums, so let’s just call them fruit for simplicity sake. It hardly matters because they’re little wrinkly balls of salty sour pickled goodness. mmmmm…mmmmm…mmmmm!!
The Ume fruit is harvested, soaked, pickled/fermented, dried and then pickled again in the brine of red shiso leaves giving it it’s bright red colour and distinct flavour. It’s an excellent source of probiotics and citric acid, has an alkalizing effect on the digestive tract and is extremely beneficial for digestive troubles ranging from morning sickness to hangover induced nausea and so much in between.
The juice or brine that is leftover after all of this, is bottled and sold as umeboshi plum vinegar. It’s suuuuuper salty but oh so delicious on salads, grains, and in sauces and dressings. A splash is literally all you need and if you use it, be sure to cut out the salt in the recipe. One of my favourite ways to use it is to combine a tablespoon of tahini with a few drops of ume plum vinegar as a salad or grain bowl dressing.
When buying umeboshi plums or vinegar, check the label and make sure the only ingredients listed are umeboshi plums, sea salt and shiso leaves.
Shoyu, or soy sauce, the next ingredient in this drink, is more commonly known than Umeboshi but when I first learned about this remedy, I didn’t quite understand why or how soy sauce could be beneficial to anything. Well soy sauce is also a product of fermentation, has an alkalizing effect on the body and helps build our immune defenses. Tamari, a gluten free soy sauce, can be used in place of shoyu if necessary.
Kuzu (kudzu) root starch (extracted from the roots of the kuzu plant) has been used medicinally for over 2000 years in Eastern medicine to treat fevers, acute dysentery, diarrhea, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and more. It supports digestion by strengthening the intestinal lining, has anti-inflammatory benefits due to it’s high flavanoid content, and has been recognized for it’s potential to treat chronic alcoholism by reducing alcohol cravings.
Kuzu is a staple in Japanese and macrobiotic cooking where it’s used as the predominant starch in place of highly processed potato or corn starch to thicken soups, stews, sauces, pie fillings and other desserts.
How to make Ume Sho Kuzu
1 Cup of filtered water
1 teaspoon of kudzu diluted in 2 tablespoons of cold filtered water
1 Small Umeboshi Plum, seed removed and mashed with a fork (or 2 teaspoons of umeboshi paste)
1 teaspoon of shoyu (or gluten free tamari if necessary)
Combine the water and shoyu or tamari in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a mug, dilute kudzu root starch and stir in the mashed umeboshi plum or umeboshi paste.
Pour water and shoyu into the mug and stir until well combined.
Let cool slightly and sip as a warm soothing tea.
Note: both umeboshi and soy sauce contain a lot of sodium (aka salt), but if you’re eating an unprocessed whole foods diet, and are generally in good health, a small amount of unrefined salt is actually essential to a healthy well balanced diet. That said, if you suffer from high blood pressure, heart complications, kidney disease or other pathological condition for which you should be avoiding salt, please consult your doctor before trying this recipe.
COME preparare l’UME SHO KUdZU
1 tazza di acqua filtrata
1 cucchiaino di kudzu diluito in 2 cucchiai di acqua fredda filtrata
1 Prugna di Umeboshi piccola, denocciolata e schiacciata con una forchetta (o 2 cucchiaini di pasta di umeboshi)
1 cucchiaino di shoyu (o tamari senza glutine, se necessario)
Unire l'acqua e lo shoyu o il tamari in una piccola casseruola e portare a ebollizione.
Nel frattempo, in una tazza, diluire l'amido di radice di kudzu e aggiungere l’umeboshi.
Versare l’acqua e shoyu bolliti nella tazza e mescolare fino a quando tutto sia ben amalgamato.
Lasciate intiepidire un po poi sorseggiare come una tisana rilassante.
Nota: sia l'umeboshi che la salsa di soia contengono molto sodio (ovvero il sale), ma mangi una dieta naturale con no/pochi prodotti confezionati e sei generalmente in buona salute, una piccola quantità di sale marino integrale non fa male, in realtà è essenziale per una dieta equilibrata. Detto questo, se soffri di pressione alta, complicazioni cardiache, malattie renali o altre condizioni patologiche per le quali dovresti evitare il sale, consulta il medico prima di provare questa ricetta.