Umeshu WITHOUT Rock Sugar – With White Sugar

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I thought about the principle of making Umeshu and Japanese fruit wine, and the mechanism of making them taste good. Then, I came to the conclusion that I can make it without rock sugar. In this post, I will introduce an experiment to make fruit wine with ordinary white sugar.

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What is Rock Sugar?

First, let’s see what kind of rock sugar we use.

Large lumps of sugar have many names: rock sugar, crystal sugar, rock candy, and so on. Of these, the colorless, clear, lump of sucrose is the one we use for making Japanese umeshu.

Rock Sugar is NOT Essential

It is said that umeshu that rock sugar is essential for making umeshu. However, when I thought about the mechanism that makes umeshu and fruit wine taste good, I realized that it does not require rock sugar. The reason we use rock sugar is to slowly dissolve the sugar.

In other words, if we slowly increase the concentration of sugar, we can make umeshu and fruit wine with ordinary white sugar.

Making Strawberry Wine with White Sugar

Now, I would like to introduce an experiment to make fruit wine with white sugar. This time, I experimented with strawberry wine because plums were unavailable. And, it takes a relatively short time to be ready.

What We Prepared

  • Bottle with a volume of 1 liter
  • 200 g of strawberries
  • 100 g rock sugar/white sugar
  • 450 g vodka

How to Make

For Rock Sugar

  • Wash the strawberries well and remove the stems.
  • Put the strawberries and the rock sugar in a sterilized jar.
  • Pour the vodka.
  • Shake gently once a day.

For White Sugar

Wash the strawberries well and remove the stems.
Put the strawberries in a sterilized jar.
Pour vodka.
Shake gently once a day.

Since white sugar is a powder, it dissolves faster than rock sugar. If I put it in the jar from the beginning, it will spread all over when I pour the liquor. And I determined that the concentration of sugar rises quickly. Therefore, we decided to add the white sugar after some time had passed.

Strawberry wine soaks quickly. It is said to be ready to drink one week after soaking. In this case, I decided to soak the strawberries in the liquor for a week and then add the white sugar.

Progress of Experiment

First and second days

Rock Sugar

At first, about half of the strawberries floated and the rest sank.

The next day, the sunken strawberries floated slightly. I think it is because the rock sugar had dissolved, creating a highly concentrated sugar water at the bottom. I observed a hazy condition at the bottom. In addition, the entire liquor turned a light pink color.

White Sugar

At first, about half of the strawberries floated and the rest sank. This is the same as with the rock sugar.

The next day, the number of sunken strawberries increased. I think it is because the sake permeated the strawberries and increased their density. In addition, the entire sake turned a light pink color. From this we can also see that the penetration is bidirectional.

Five Days Later

Rock Sugar

Five days later, the strawberries positioned even higher. At the bottom, there was still a small amount of undissolved rock sugar. I also observed a hazy state in the highly concentrated sugar water. The overall color of the liquor became even darker.

White Sugar

After 5 days, there was no change in the position of the strawberries. The overall color of the liquor became darker.

Seven Days Later

Rock Sugar

After 7 days, the rock sugar had completely dissolved. At the bottom, I could still observe a hazy state.

White Sugar

After 7 days, there was no change.

Put White Sugar in

All the rock sugar was dissolved in 7 days. However, I only lightly shook it. Therefore, the sugar has not yet fully diffused. You can see a thick solution accumulating at the bottom.

If we add the fine white sugar, it is likely to sink to the bottom first, then dissolve and diffuse. Based on the above assumption, I decided to add white sugar at the 7th day.

I weighed out 100 g of the fine white sugar and put it into the bottle at once. Most of it sank to the bottom.
I want the sugar concentration to rise slowly. So, I leave it in without stirring. I continued to observe it at the same time as the rock sugar ones.

After Put White Sugar

About half of the white sugar has dissolved on the third day after the white sugar was added. I observed a hazy part at the bottom. It means there is highly concentrated sugar water.

Even on the seventh day after the addition of the top white sugar, there was still some residual dissolved sugar. At this stage, we shook the mixture vigorously, and it was all dissolved by the next day. If the sugar had been shaken hard from the first day, it would have dissolved immediately.

After that, the mixture was mixed thoroughly once every few days to ensure that the overall concentration was uniform.

Three Weeks Later

Here are the pictures along with the photos.

The one on the left is with white sugar and the one on the right is with rock sugar. There is almost no difference in appearance.
Both have a strong strawberry aroma. The harsh aroma of vodka is completely covered.

I tasted both and found them both to be very tasty.

From the above, we have learned that we can make fruit wine with fine white sugar. As long as you don’t make the mistake of adding sugar at the wrong time, you can do without the rock sugar.

No End of Questions

We now know that we can use white sugar. But still, we have endless questions about making umeshu and fruity wine.

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