Tsukemono Factory

Large place with three kinds of onigiri, three smaller plates with various tsukemono

Monday (March 10) after lunch, we took a train to 明野 (Akeno), a more rural part of Ise, and visited 林商店 (Hayashi-shōten), a company that makes 伊勢沢庵 (Ise-takuan, Ise style pickled daikon radish) and other 漬物 (tsukemono, Japanese pickled vegetables).

Storage shed in between fields

Inside this shed, tsukemono are ripening in big barrels. Well, some in small barrels, but the big ones are more impressive. 😉

Wooden barrel about 2m in diameter, ladder leaning against it

Depending on the type, the tsukemono need to ripen between 6 months and multiple years like this. On top of the barrel, stones make sure that everything gets squished properly.

Large stones pushing a plastic sheet into a barrel

After seeing the barrels and some more explanation on the process, we went over to the main factory.

Wide and low building with label "(有) 林商店"

Inside, we passed some partially processed daikon.

A stack of partially processed daikon radishes

Monday was cold and windy, so the hot tea the workers offered us was most welcome. On top of that we could sample the products together with some onigiri (rice balls).

Large place with three kinds of onigiri, three smaller plates with various tsukemono

Most of the tsukemono are based on daikon radish, but there are a two other kinds, including my favorite: 梅干 (umeboshi, the round red things). Umeboshi are made from ume (plums) and with lots of salt. However, these ones were much better than what I’m used to. Rather than being mainly salty, the umeboshi here had a distinct taste of ume. Umeboshi do contain the stones, which you’re not supposed to eat, so after eating a few I had a nice collection on my plate. One of the workers then showed me a great way to use them: Put the stones into a cup, add hot green tea, and stir. This gives the tea a nice taste of ume and salt. 🙂

Three large yellowish pickled daikon, shrink-wrapped

Above, you can three whole Ise-takuan, and the color should allow you to recognize the Ise-takuan slices on the previous picture, too. The quality of the tsukemono was very high, but since I liked umeboshi before and those were probably the best I ever had, they kind of outshone everything else. 😳 After some of us (including myself) specifically complimented the quality of the umeboshi, they even added some to the gift packages of daikon tsukemono for those who wanted them. Yay!

Sliced pack of kimuchi

Later we also sampled some kimuchi, the Japanese variant of Kimchi, and as we got ready to leave, I spotted three small plush daikon in the break room. :mrgreen:

Three small plush daikon hanging from a stick

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