Can I make it WITHOUT Rock Sugar?
We use rock sugar for making Umeshu because it allows the sugar concentration to rise slowly. In other words, even if you do not have rock sugar, you can make it by devising the timing and mixing method for adding sugar. I actually tried making a strawberry wine using white sugar.
For a detailed recipe for Umeshu, Japanese fruit wine without rock sugar and with white sugar, please click here.
Can I Use Honey or Brown Sugar?
We can make umeshu with honey or brown sugar. If you use honey, just put it in the bottom first. Be careful not to overmix.
And if you use brown sugar, it depends on the shape of the brown sugar. If it is big lump, you can just put it in first like rock sugar. If it is in powder form, it is safer to put it in afterwards, like white sugar. Please refer to Umeshu’s recipe for detailed timing.
Whatever sugar you use, just be careful not to overmix.
Can I Change the Amount of Sugar?
The amount of sugar really depends on the Umeshu or Japanese fruit wine recipe. Some use as little as 10% of the fruit weight, some use as much as 100%, and some use the same amount. In conclusion, the amount of sugar can be adjusted to taste. However, the changes seen during the pickling process may change.
When the sugar is low, the most likely scenario is this. Fruit does not float forever. This is because a small amount of sugar does not increase the density very much when dissolved in the liquor. If you use fruits with a large density, it is possible that the fruits will not float to the surface of the liquid.
However, it is not essential for making umeshu or Japanese fruit wine for the fruit to float. Therefore, you can pickle them without any problem.
Take Loger Time
Another possibility is that it will take longer to complete the process. The lower the concentration of sugar, the less power it has to draw out the liquor that has entered the fruit. Still, this is not a problem because osmosis is a two-way reaction. If you wait patiently, you will have a delicious Umeshu, Japanese fruits wine.
When the amount of sugar is too much, this is what is considered. Floating fruit does not sink. Normally, floating plums and fruits begin to sink after a few weeks at most. However, when the amount of sugar is high, the density of the liquor becomes much greater. As a result, no matter how much liquor is drawn from the fruit, the density of the liquor may be greater than the density of the fruit. In this case, the fruit will not sink no matter how long you wait.
Be Careful about Mold
It is not essential for making Umeshu or Japanese fruit wine for the fruit to sink. However, if the fruit remains floating on the surface of the liquid, be careful. There is a risk of mold growth when they come into contact with air. If the fruit is floating, shake the container once a day to ensure that the fruit is evenly covered with alcohol.
A high amount of sugar may also cause the fruit to wrinkle. This is because the greater the concentration of sugar, the more power it has to draw water out of the fruit. This also does not have a significant effect on the making of Umeshu, Japanese fruit wine. If you are really concerned, remove the plums and fruits after they are done.
Can I Make Sugar-Free Umeshu?
The first step in making Umeshu or Japanese fruits wine is for the liquor to permeate the plums and fruits. Again, osmosis is a two-way reaction. As soon as the sake permeates the plums and fruits, the liquor is drawn out of the plums and fruits.
If you add sugar, the force of drawing liquor out of the fruit will be stronger. But even without sugar, liquor is gradually coming out of the fruit. This can be seen from the fact that even just dipping strawberries in vodka, the color came out. In other words, it is possible to make sugar-free Umeshu, sugar-free Japanese fruits wine.
Take Longer Time
However, it will take much longer to complete the process, since the sugar cannot be used to extract the sake from the plums and fruits.
Rock Sugar in the Bottom? Layer it with the Fruit?
Some recipes call for alternating fruit and rock sugar. This is thought to be primarily for appearance.
However, as the rock sugar dissolves and becomes smaller, it will fall to the bottom of the jar. Also, when the concentration of sugar at the bottom increases and the fruit floats, the rock sugar falls to the bottom. Thus, the movement of rock sugar in the liquor may have the effect of assisting diffusion. However, I do not know to what extent this is effective.
On the other hand, it is possible that the fruit and the high concentration of sugar may come into contact with the liquor early on. This could also cause the plums and fruit to wrinkle.
For these reasons, I recommend putting the rock sugar in the bottom and the fruit on top of it. Whether you put them in there or on top of each other, be careful not to overmix.
You can check the umeshu recipe here.