How to make Umeshu
The Japanese Umeshu, a kind of plum liquor, is a very special delicacy. Incomparable to the rubbish you get at the Chinese restaurant. We got a huge box of young plums from friends living in Wakayama prefecture, which is famous for its plums, see Ume garden in Minabe. And of course I immediately went forth to make a huge amount of Umeshu.
It is not difficult, quickly made, ingredients are cheap, and your are not required to buy the often far too sweet Umeshu that is sold in shops.
Necessary ingredients, all of them are very easy to get during this season, supermarkets stock them right front up: For 1kg of plums get 500g to 1kg of Ice-sugar (big block sugar) and about 1.8 or more liter of white liquor (ホワイトリカー, normally whiskey based, but can also be brandy based, which gives an interesting change, usually 35%). For the plums, I recommend the ones from Wakayama – they are excellent! We got this huge box from our friends, which made me freak out! So lovely!
First you wash the plums and dry them.
To make sure that the taste of the umeshu is fine, it is best to remove the black pits remaining at the spot where the plums were hanging on the branches. A toothpick is the perfect tool for that.
Then you pinch the plums with a fork to make a lot of holes. This allows the liquor to enter into the plum and suck out as much of the taste as possible.
Finally you fill layers of plum and layers of sugar into one of the containers, pour the white liquor to cover the plum/sugar completely. In normal recipes they recommend the same weight of plums and sugar, but I usually take half of it, as I don’t want to have such a sweet umeshu. Finally, put it into a dark and cool place (as far as possible) and let it rest there for 6 month. Although 6 months are recommended, I never can wait that long. The earlier you drink it, the rougher the taste is. Which is something I like.
So, hurry while there are plums, and make your own! Lots of fun, and great taste!