Monday, October 14, 2013

Koume Umeboshi Gummy

It's no secret I love Japanese candy - all the evidence is right here on the blog in my new Japanese category.

This gummy marks my 20th Japanese candy review - that is very nearly catching up to UK reviews - the country I actually live in. Wowza.

The only thing that keeps me from going absolutely apenuts on Japanese candy is that so much of it is gummy - don't get me wrong, if you give me a gummy I will gladly eat it - but I'll be thinking of chocolate or cookies.

Fact is, there are tons of different chips, chocolate, and biscuits in Japan, they're just the hardest things to ship and therefore you won't necessarily find them with as much ease as you'll find a bag of gummies. That's fine; all the more reason to go to Japan.

So, this particular gummy is Umeboshi flavored, by Koume. Umeboshi is a pickled, sour plum and it is very popular in Japan - as far as I know it is not considered a sweet, but is eaten regularly with rice and as a healthy accompaniment to lunch. I love pickled food, but alongside savory dishes - then again, I quite like sour candy (even as an adult) and can see where pickles have a natural sweetness to them. It might be a matter of taste, though!

With all that in mind, I was quite looking forward to trying this sweet & sour gummy. The packaging is very charming, with a sort-of classic illustration of a blushing girl - definitely makes me think of traditional Japan, which makes sense as umeboshi is a very traditional Japanese flavor.

Opening the package, I was surprised that it smelled like fresh cut grass. A nice smell, but not one I'd immediately associate with either candy, pickles, or plums. Then again, I don't go around smelling plums. Pickles & candy, on the other hand...

They're cute little bits, about thumb-sized, kinda wrinkly (like the actual umeboshi) and covered in sanding sugar (unlike a real umeboshi).

The texture was very good - this is a bouncy kind of gummy, not too chewy but also not marshmallow-y soft & powdery. The sugar was really fine, and just sort of dissipated into sweetness once it was in my mouth.

The first taste is sugar with a spicy, kind of cinnamon background, and then it get sour for awhile - but a natural kind of sour, like a citrus fruit or a pickle - and then it gets spicy again.

In the end, the flavor really reminded me of persimmons. I grew up in Indiana, one of the few places where saying something tastes like a persimmon might actually mean something to somebody, so let me explain a bit. Persimmon tastes like spicy & sweet fruit, sort of like a 'Autumn' candle, or something. They're not too strongly flavored, but they're very distinctively spicy to me. It is a very interesting taste, especially with this gummy that has a sour break in between two periods of spicy sweetness.

If you've tasted and enjoyed persimmons, or even just the idea of a sweet&spicy/sour/sweet&spicy candy sounds interesting to you, these definitely are worth a go. I really want to try an actual umeboshi now - and it's rare that a candy encourages me to try a new kind of fruit...usually it just reminds me how bad real food is compared to artificial flavoring.

(OyatsuCafe so kindly provided me with some products for review, but all opinions are just my own!)

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