by Danielle Markewicz
Unlike some western countries, making your own homemade liquor is not only legal in Japan, but very easy and inexpensive! Once the initial pre-work has been finished, it only requires a little patience before you have your very own delicious drink!
Umeshu (梅酒) is usually translated as plum liqueur or plum wine, and is a sweet drink that even appeals to those who don’t normally like the taste of alcohol. It can be drunk straight, on the rocks, or mixed with soda or tea.
The basic ingredients of umeshu are green plums, white liqueur, and rock sugar. The green plums are seasonal, and are usually available in supermarkets from June to August. While seasonal, it’s easy to find the ingredients as they tend to be advertised together in the store. Look for a sign saying osake koonaa (お酒コーナー) or something similar.
I’ve taken the ingredients and instructions directly from the recipe provided with the jar and translated to English. Most of the ingredients come with the recipe on the label, and vary slightly from brand to brand. The exact amount isn’t important so long as the ratio is fairly accurate. Here is an easy chart to start you off:
|Jar Size||Green Plum||White Liqueur||Rock Sugar|
|8 litre||2 kg||3,600 ml||1,000 g|
|5 litre||1.25 kg||2,300 ml||600 g|
|4 litre||1.2kg||2,000 ml||550g|
|3 litre||1 kg||1,800 ml||500g|
Here are the eight easy steps to making umeshu:
Umeshu in 8 Easy Steps
In addition to umeshu, it’s easy to make other fruit liqueurs! Here are some other common recipes. These fruits are naturally sweet enough that usually additional rock sugar is not needed. Please look up individual instructions as needed.
(Note: these are intended for use in a four litre jar, so adjust ingredient ratios as needed.)
|Fruit||Peel||White Liqueur||Preparation Time||Season|
|Strawberry||900 g||n/a||2,100 ml||2 months||March-May|
|Apple||1,000 g||n/a||1,800 ml||1 month||September-November|
|Orange||1,050 g||150 g||1,800 ml||1 month||December-February|
|Lemon||1,350 g||150 g||1,500 ml||1 month||All seasons|
|Apricot||1,000 g||n/a||2,600 ml||1 month||June-August|