Making Umeshu – Take Two!

This is our second year in a row of making umeshu (plum wine) from scratch for my good friend Saori and me.  This year we got serious.  We bought the “right” type of containers, the perfect amount of plums and alcohol, and found good directions.  We were determined to follow the directions to the letter, thus making the very best wine possible.  We carefully washed, dried, and de-stemmed each tiny plum by hand.  We carefully layered the plums and the special rock sugar as described.  And then – only then – did we QUIETLY pour in the alcohol.  I am still unclear on how exactly one pours “quietly” but we did the best we could.

Both of us put our containers under our respective kitchen sinks, a cool, dry place, and they will remain there throughout the summer.  The plums need about 3 months to ferment properly, so we will see what happens in late September!  Stay tuned.

The Umeshu!

This past Sunday was the long-awaited unveiling of the umeshu (plum wine) that my good friend, Saori, and I put together back in June.  We had been storing it in a cool, dry place (as cool as we could get in sweltering Tokyo) for at least two months.  When we took it out, it was a beautiful golden color with the plums swirling and beckoning within.  When we poured it out of the mundane container, it sloshed lightly in the glass, catching the glint of the light.  Both Saori and I like it over ice, so the cubes clinked against each other to welcome the liquid.

The taste was just the right amount of sweet: tangy, but not insipid.  It was strong – we could taste a quick hint of the alcohol as it warmed our throats.  It was, in short, perfect.

The amount we made should, perhaps, last us through the winter – or at least until we can make another batch again in the spring.  I sense this become a yearly event.  Kampai!


A pile of the washed ume - plums - ready to be fermented

My friend Saori and I are big fans of umeshu, Japanese plum wine.  It is a popular drink among women, and it’s served in most restaurants in Tokyo.  We both like it on the rocks, but some people drink it with a splash of soda in it.  It’s made by basically fermenting young plums in sugar and alcohol.  It can be sweet or not, and like other wines,  the longer it’s aged, the better the taste.

This weekend, Saori and I decided to try our hands at making our own umeshu.  I bought the tiny, round, green plums, a bag of rock-sugar and a huge container of plain alcohol.  We put it all together into two containers, and each took one to put under the kitchen sink for the foreseeable future.  Luckily it’s summer – and we won’t have a chance to be together until August anyway.  It needs to age at least 3 months, but the longer the better.  We’ve resolved not to drink it until we can do it together.

Saori adds the huge chunks of rock sugar

I can’t wait to see how our little experiment turns out!  Watch this space in a few months for a result of the taste-test.

The completed bottle - ready to go under the sink 'til autumn