It’s Plum-Flavored Potato Chip Season!

Pickled plum flavored potato chips

If it’s February, it must be time for the shelves to be bursting with umeboshi-flavored goods, but think twice before you pop one in your mouth, expecting something sweet!

Umeboshi are not for the weak. The über-sour, extra-salty pickled plums star in children’s lunches early and often as the red circle in the middle of the white rice “Japanese flag,” so the taste becomes a nostalgic favorite. It’s such a beloved flavor here in Japan that when it’s time for the plum trees to bloom in February, all kinds of snacks get a dose of extra-sour, extra-salty to celebrate the season.

Plum-flavored potato sticks, a perennial fave

Suppaiman to the snacker’s rescue! “Suppai” means “sour” and these dried plum pickles deliver, bigtime.

An actual pickled plum. It doesn’t pay to chomp into these too enthusiastically – there’s a huge pit lurking in the middle.

Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo mystery seriespublished by Penguin/Intermix.

Published by Penguin/Intermix