One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning (while hubby is sleeping in) is going to the wet market and checking out the fresh and seasonal produce. Last Sunday I was on a mission to buy some lychees because they just came into season. And as I scanned the fruit stalls for lychees, I noticed one vendor selling baskets of purple berries (resembling jumbo raspberries) that I’ve never tried before.
It turns out the mysterious berry was a Yumberry (also known as Yang Mei / 杨梅). This fruit is native to China (popular in Shanghai) and has been around for centuries, but in recent years it has been promoted as a superfruit in the US and is primarily sold as a juice.
This delicate berry looks like a spherical raspberry, but when you bite into it, the texture resembles a strawberry and tastes a bit like a pomegranate. Similar to a cherry it has a small pit in the centre. The color of the yumberry can vary from white to red to deep purple. The ones I got were a beautiful deep purple hue and they were sweet and mildly sour with a hint of tartness.
A friendly woman who was also purchasing the yumberry sensed I was foreign to the berry, so she kindly took the time to teach me how to handle this exotic fruit [it makes me smile thinking how wonderful it is to run into strangers that are so friendly!]:
- Thoroughly wash the yumberries under running water.
- In a salted water bath, soak the berries for 20-30 mins. This will remove some of the dirt lodged in the berries and remove small worms that could hide in the bumpy surface (this grossed me out a bit and luckily I didn’t see any worms).
- Using drinkable water stir in 1/2 tsp of salt and submerge the berries in the salted water again, and refrigerate for a day.
The lady explained the last step helps cleanse the berries some more, and makes them tastier. I am not sure if any of this is true, but I happily followed her instructions.
The yumberry is only in season for a few weeks a year (around June, I believe), so if you can get your hands on some, I recommend you give them a try!
Cost: HKD15 for a basket of 24