Make Umeshu

Plums you can use to make umeshu

Umeshu, the Japanese plum wine, is a healthy and delicious alcoholic beverage traditionally made using unripe plums. Umeshu has a refreshing fruity aroma and a sweet to sour taste that makes it a great drink to have by itself or in cocktails. You can make umeshu easily at home using three simple ingredients – sugar, plums, and liquor. But what are the different types of plums you can use to make umeshu?

Let us explore.

Nankoume plums

Nankoume plums are THE plums to have when you want to make umeshu. Primarily produced in the Wakayama and Kagoshima prefectures, nankoume plums have thin skin, small seeds, and soft, juicy flesh perfect for making umeshu. 

Oshuku plums

Primarily produced in the region in and around the Nara prefecture, the oshuku plums are named after the waka poems written in the Heian period. Oshuku plums are lush, juicy plums with hard flesh and a typical strong tartness that makes a delicious umeshu with superb crispness. 

Old Castle or Gojiro plums

Another delicious plum variety primarily grown in the Wakayama prefecture, the gojiro plums are considerably harder and firmer than other plum varieties such as the nankoume plums. Often dubbed as the ‘blue diamond’ plums, old castle plums hold their structure and do not collapse when pickled in the umeshu. Gojiro plums are difficult to cultivate and hence, quite a rare variety.

Shirakaga plums

Also known as the Shiraka plums or the Shiroka plums, the shirakaga plums have been cultivated in the Ibaraki, Gunma, and Nara prefectures since the Edo period. Shirakaga plums are the most produced plums in Japan and are well known in the Gunma and Kanto regions. Shiraka plums are rather large, with small seeds and thick flesh. Shiroka plums are perfect not just for umeshu but also for pickling.

Bungo plums

Primarily produced in the Tohoku region, the Bungo plums grow well in the cold climates of the region. They have pale yellowish-green skin and are quite large. They bring a unique flavor to the umeshu and are good plums to use for making umeshu.

Unripe plums are the most commonly used for umeshu, though ripe plums can be used as well. Depending on your preference, you can use ripe or unripe plums for making your umeshu. Umeshu made using unripe plums would have a crisp, sweet to sour flavor, while that made using ripe plums would have a sweeter, mellower flavor. In both cases, choosing the right type and quality of plums would be essential.

About Umeshu Lovers

Made with the finest ume plums from Japan, Umeshu is an apéritif with a sweet-sour flavour.  

Known commonly as “Japanese Plum Wine”, Umeshu is among the most well-known alcoholic beverages in Japan and is slowly gaining popularity worldwide.  

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