New to me, sour green plums have long been a favored springtime snack in the Middle East. Tiny (about the size of grapes), juicy, very crisp, and a bit sour, one small bite captures that green spring crunch! I took a bite and, similar to green almonds, they reminded me of an unripe, green mango—a tad tart! They’re sour because they’re picked before they have fully ripened.
Young, sour plums are known by various names around the world—goje sabz in Iran, janerik or jarareng in Lebanon, erik in Turkey, mei in China, and ume in Japan. Although not all the same variety of plum, they can be used in similar ways. This variety, very popular in Middle Eastern communities, is much appreciated as the first fruits of spring.
A Lebanese-American friend introduced them to me. In Lebanon, they’re known as janerik, janarek or jarareng (there may be other spellings) and are a well-loved springtime treat. Tangy and refreshing, these tart and crunchy plums are best eaten fresh, sometimes with a pinch of salt. For some, the sour flavor is a refreshing way to cleanse the palate after a heavy meal. For others, they can be eaten anytime.
I like them alone or dipped in a bit of salt. Crunchy, juicy, and sour, one bite had me wanting more. Like potato chips, it was hard to just eat one. To add some heat, I also tried them with a bit of red pepper (Aleppo, chili pepper, or berbere).
My little guy, more fascinated by their perfect size for his little hands, liked them too.
Have you tried these type of sour green plums? If not, as they are seasonal they’ll only be available for a limited time. Look out for them in Middle Eastern grocery stores.