The 3 Best Ume Candies Widely Enjoyed in Japan
When it comes to blossoms that represent Japan, the fact that we Japanese love “Sakura (桜)”, or cherry blossoms, is widely known. Sakura blooms in spring when Japanese people enjoy “Hanami (花見)” cherry blossom viewing.
Meanwhile, regarding winter blossoms that are most familiar to us Japanese, it is generally considered that “Ume (梅)” is the quintessential Japanese winter blossom.
What is Ume Candy?
Ume is referred to as Japanese apricot in English, which usually has white or pink blossoms. Besides, the Japanese winter tree bears fruit, which is known as Ume plums.
Even if Ume plums get ripe enough, they don’t become sweet and feature strong acidity. The Ume fruit is often used in Japanese cuisine, and among the foods made with the plums, “Umeboshi (梅干し)” has been a favorite in Japan for a long time.
Ume plums are not only prepared for cooking, but the winter fruit is also commonly used as the main ingredient in Japanese candies. The candy whose main ingredient is the Ume fruit is referred to as Ume Candy in English.
The 3 Best and Most Beloved Ume Plum Candies in Japan
Although in Japan, Ume Candy comes in various forms ranging from hard candy to gummy candy, I think the number of Ume candies in hard candy form is the largest.
So this time I will introduce the 3 best and most beloved hard-textured Ume plum candies in Japan for those who are interested in the sour-sweet Japanese treat.
Nama Ume Ame (生梅飴) from Ribon
The hard plum candy produced and sold by Ribon, Nama Ume Ame has such a good reputation in Japan that many Japanese have said on the internet that it is the best and most delicious Ume candy.
This Ume-flavored treat is especially characterized by its filling of fresh Umeboshi paste containing 50% Ume plum flesh.
As for the taste, the outer hard candy is gently sweet with a subtle Ume flavor, while the paste inside is somewhat sour, acidic but has plenty of umami taste characteristic of Umeboshi.
I think the difference in taste and flavor between the exterior and the interior makes the candy a delight.
Koume Candy (小梅) from Lotte
Introduced into Japan’s market by Lotte in 1974, Koume Candy is one of the best and most famous Ume candies in Japan.
The product consists of two types of Ume candies. Most are small, sweet Ume candy balls that are filled with a slightly sour Umeboshi paste in addition to being coated with a little salty Ume powder.
Only 2 pieces in the bag are large-size Ume candies, which are somewhat sweeter than the small-size ones.
Otoko Ume Candy (男梅キャンディー) from Nobel
“Otoko Ume (男梅)” is Nobel’s popular series whose products are all made with Umeboshi plums.
There are a variety of products in the Otoko Ume series ranging from alcoholic drinks to sweet treats, but among them, this Otoko Ume candy is one of the best-selling items.
A piece of the Ume candy contains the same amount of Ume plum juice as a single piece of Ume plum, because of which, the hard candy is packed with lots of Umeboshi flavor.
As for the taste, the Otoko Ume candy is not that sweet as compared to the above 2, but instead, in addition to having the most authentic Umeboshi flavor, it is much more on the umami side.