Umeshu, the Japanese Plum Wine, is a popular aperitif that is refreshing and quite easy to make at home. The term ‘Umeshu’ is made of two words – ‘Ume’ meaning ‘Plum’ and ‘Shu’ meaning ‘Alcohol’, so Umeshu means Plum Wine. Let’s dig into how you can go about making Umeshu plum wine at home.
Umeshu is generally made using three main ingredients:
● Unripe green plums (Ume)
● White liquor
● Rock sugar
Unripe green Ume plums
Choose fresh unripe ume plums with no wrinkles or scratches on the surface. If you can’t find unripe plums, you could use the ripe ones too. Unripe plums produce a crisper wine while the ripe ones produce a wine with a mellow fruity flavor. If you can’t find ume plums in your grocery store, you can use any plums you source, though the authentic Umeshu recipe uses only ume plums.
The white liquor used to make Umeshu generally contains about 35% alcohol. White liquor does not have any taste or odor so it ensures that the flavor of the plums reflect in the wine. If you are unable to access white liquor, any other liquor with over 35% alcohol such as brandy, rum, vodka, gin, etc. can be used.
Making Umeshu requires sugar equivalent to 50-80% of the weight of the plums you are using. If you are unable to get rock sugar, you can use common granulated sugar, brown sugar, or even honey to make Umeshu. As far as possible, use rock sugar.
The science behind using rock sugar to make Umeshu
Liquor and rock sugar work together to adjust the osmotic pressure which controls the extraction of the fruit essence from the plums. This, in turn, leads to a more delicious Umeshu when compared to Umeshu made with any other type of sugar.
How to make Umeshu?
Follow the steps below to make the plum wine:
● Sterilize the container you plan to use
● Soak the plums in water for 2 to 3 hours, then wash, wipe them dry, and remove the stems
● Make alternate layers of the soaked plums and rock sugar in the sterilized container
● Pour liquor over the layers
● Leave it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight for a minimum of 6 months
This way, you can easily make fresh delicious Umeshu at home. Remember to use the best possible ingredients to get delicious plum wine. Cheers!