We are making Ume Syrup and Umeshu also known as plum wine using ume fruits harvested in our garden. It might be difficult to find good green ume, which are often called plums but homemade umeshu has a delectable taste so you should definitely try it when ume are in season.
Glass Jar with Airtight Lid2000ml for umeshu | 1500ml for ume syrup
First, let's sterilize the containers for ume syrup and umeshu. Dried the pre-washed airtight containers completely and wipe them with Japanese distilled liquor called shochu, which is 35% alcohol by volume. If you can't use any alcohol, check the last part of the instructions to sterilize the containers with boiling water. Dampen a paper towel with the liquor and thoroughly wipe the inside and around the mouth of the containers.
Wipe the inner lid and outer lid as well.
This sterilizing process is especially important to allow umeshu to age properly.
Next, let's prepare the green ume fruits for ume syrup and umeshu. Transfer pre-washed ume into two bowls.
Soak the ume in a large amount of water for 2 hours to remove any bitterness.
Strain the green ume.
Dry the ume thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel and paper towel.
Remove the stem end of ume with a bamboo skewer. Be careful not to damage the skin. Keeping the ume skin clean and removing any moisture on the surface will help to keep the bacteria from growing.
Let's make ume syrup first. Add the green ume in the sterilized container. Add rock sugar.
Add the ume and then rock sugar again.
Finally, add the vinegar to prevent the ume from fermenting.
Seal the container with the inner lid and outer lid.
Rotate the container and mix the ume, rock sugar and vinegar well. For the first day, rotate the container frequently to dampen the ume with the liquid.
This is the ume syrup after a couple hours.
This photo shows the ume syrup after 2 days. From the second day, rotate the container several times a day, and keep the ume always wet. This is also important to prevent the bacteria from growing. After 1 week, all the rock sugar should be dissolved. After 3 weeks, the ume surface gets wrinkled and all the ume juice is extracted. Remove the ume fruits and store the ume syrup in the refrigerator.
Let's make umeshu. Add the green ume in the sterilized container. Add the rock sugar.
Add the ume.
And the rock sugar again.
Pour in the 35% alcohol shochu, Japanese distilled liquor.
Seal the container with the lid.
Store the container in a cool and dark place and occasionally rotate it to mix the ume and sugar evenly.
This is 11 days later. Left is the ume syrup, and right is the umeshu.
This is the umeshu after 1 year. It takes 6 months for the umeshu to be drinkable, but aging 1 to 2 years makes it full-flavored.
You can mix ume syrup with cold water, carbonated water or milk.
Umeshu can be tasted on the rocks, or mixed with carbonated water or hot water.
Hot Water Sterilization
If the temperature of glass changes abruptly, the container will crack so please follow the instructions. Place the jar in a large pot and pour in hot water that you are barely able to touch until it overflows. Let it sit for several minutes and transfer the water into the pot.
Next, pour boiling water into the jar until overflowing and allow it to sit for several minutes. Then, discard the water and place it on a cooling rack upside down. When completely dried, carefully wipe the inside of the container and lid with a paper towel dampened with vinegar. Be careful not to burn yourself with the boiling water.
Do not eat unripe green ume in raw. They contain toxic substances.
Choose clean ume fruits which don't have any bruises.
Fully ripe ume fruits contain more sugar and easily ferment. You can use ripe ume but it will be difficult to store them properly.
We used a minimal amount of sugar in the umeshu so you can add syrup to taste.