Umeshu and Japanese Fruit Liquor


Umeshu, fruit wine, is easy to make and tastes great. What is important to avoid failure is the frequency of mixing. If you know how umeshu pickles, you will enjoy making umeshu and fruit wine more.

Making umeshu and fruit wine is easy, but what happens during the pickling process is very scientific. We have carefully explained the various questions that arise before and during the process of pickling umeshu, one by one.


How Umeshu is made

There are three main steps in the process of making umeshu. The key words are osmosis, dissolution, and diffusion. You can check the details here.

How Umeshu Tastes Good

We believe that the most common cause of failure in making umeshu = not making good tasting umeshu is “over-mixing”. If you mix too much, the sugar concentration will increase rapidly and you will not get good tasting umeshu.

At first, you should only shake it lightly once every few days. Then, after the plums start to float, shake them once a day, being careful to pour liquor on the surface. However, if you do not stir too much, it will cause the plums to wrinkle. See here for more information.

Questions about Makimh Umeshu

When it comes time to make umeshu, there are many questions that arise. What kind of alcohol should I use? How much sugar? Can I use damaged plums? We have carefully answered each of these questions.

What Kind of Alcohol?

In Japan, white liquor, shochu is sold at affordable prices for making umeshu and fruit wine. It makes simple tasting umeshu and fruit wine. You can also use other alcohols of your choice, such as whiskey or brandy.

However, be sure to use spirits with an alcohol content of at least 20%. It is illegal under Japanese law to pickle umeshu or fruit wine with anything less than 20% concentration.

Can I Use More or Less Sugar?

You can increase or decrease the amount of sugar for umeshu or fruit wine. In that case, the fruit may not float or sink, but that is not a problem. You can also pickle unsweetened umeshu without sugar, although it takes longer.

There are also recipes that alternate plums or fruit with rock sugar, but the basic recipe will be the same as the one that puts them in the bottom.

Can I use damaged plums?

Damaged plums may still have bacteria on them, even if you think you have washed them thoroughly. If mold grows during pickling, it can ruin the whole liquor. Therefore, I do not recommend using it.

If the damaged part is cut off, the entire sake may become cloudy. Since it is indistinguishable from the growth of bacteria, I do not recommend this either. For further information, please click here.

The Plums Float! They Don’t Sink!

It is quite natural for fruits to float while pickling umeshu or fruit wine. It takes a few weeks to a few months for them to sink again. However, in the case of umeshu or fruit wine with a lot of sugar, it may be quite difficult to sink or may stay afloat for a long time.

Be careful while the fruit is floating. Since it is in contact with air, it is easy for mold to grow. Be sure to shake the jar once a day to ensure that the fruit is evenly covered with alcohol.
For more information.

My Plums are Wrinkled!

Plums become wrinkled because the sugar draws out the liquid in the plums. The greater the amount of sugar, the more likely the plums will wrinkle. Also, if you leave the plums unmixed for a long time after you start pickling, the plums at the bottom may become wrinkled. You can check more inforormation about this by clicking here.

Questions AFTER Making Umeshu

Take out the Fruits? Not to Take out?

Should we take out the fruit after soaking umeshu or fruit wine? As it turns out, either way is fine.

For example, citrus peels should be taken out after a few weeks at the most. I leave the fruit in all of them except for the citrus peel. Why is it necessary to take the fruit out in the first place? For more information, check here.

What is the Difference from Squeezing the Juice?

When umeshu or fruit wine is made after a long process, it is a very moving experience. But at the same time, one may wonder why it is necessary to wait so long. However, there is a definite difference between squeezing fruit juice and adding alcohol and making fruit wine. Please click here.

As a simple example, try making fruit syrup from frozenfruit. By freezing, the cell membranes are broken down and the juice is more easily released. Compare the difference between the fruit after soaking in fruit wine and after soaking in syrup and you will be amazed at the difference.


Basic Umeshu and Japanese Strawberry, Raspberry and Orange Liquor

Have you ever tried Umeshu? The process is unique, but very simple. You can also make delicious Japanese fruit liquor from other fruits.
Prep Time0 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Rest After Cook21 d
Servings500 mL vodka
  • distilled liquor (vodka, etc., with about 35% alcohol is good) 500 mL
  • fruit (your favorite one) 200 g
  • sugar (or white sugar, *1) 100 g
Glass bottle (capacity about twice the amount of alcohol)
  • Sterilize the glass bottle (*2).
  • Wash the fruit well and drain thoroughly. See the recipe below for details.
For crystal sugar
  • Place the sugar and fruit in the jar.
  • Pour in the liquor and cover with a lid. Store at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
  • Shake gently once every few days. Do not over-shake (*3).
  • When the fruit starts to float, shake gently once a day and cover the surface with liquor (*4).
  • Let it mature and it is ready to enjoy.
For white sugar(*1)
    *I tried this with strawberries and was successful*
    • Place the fruit in a jar.
    • Pour in the liquor and cover with a lid. Store at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
    • When 1/4-1/3 of the way to completion has passed, open the lid and add the white sugar all at once.
    • Shake gently once every few days. Do not overmix (*3).
    • When the fruit floats to the surface, shake gently once a day and cover the surface with liquor (*4).
    • Let it mature and it is ready to enjoy.
    How to wash the fruit and how long to age
      • Wash the plums in water and remove any damaged ones.
      • Use a toothpick to remove the stems.
      • Allow to mature for at least 3 months.
      Strawberry Liquor
      • Wash strawberries in water and remove the stems. You can also hollow them out with a knife.
      • Leave to mature for 3 weeks.
      Raspberry Liquor
      • Wash raspberries in water.
      • Leave to ripen for one and a half months.
      Orange Liquor
      • Wash the peel thoroughly.
      • Cut into rounds and peel off the zest.
      • Remove the white fluffy parts inside the zest, on the surface of the thin skin, and in the center of the fruit.
      • Soak the peels together. Remove them after 1-2 weeks.
      • Allow to mature for 2 months.
      You can also use white sugar to make fruit wine. I have tried it with strawberries with success, but theoretically you could make it with any fruit.
      The basic way to sterilize glass bottles is to boil them. Boiling is where you put water and bottles in a pot and bring it to a boil.
      Pouring boiling water into a glass jar at room temperature will cause it to break. Even heat-resistant glass can break, so it’s best not to do so. Furthermore, it will not be effective enough to disinfect them.
      I put the washed bottles in the oven, heat them up to 180℃, keep them at 180℃ for 30 minutes, and then let them cool down in the oven. After that, I pour the liquor into the bottles, spread it all over, and let it dry. (However, the effect is limited, as alcohol requires 70-80% alcohol content to disinfect.)
      However, this method is “my method” and I don’t have enough evidence to support it because I haven’t been able to find any papers. I will summarize it after I find a good source.
      Over-mixing is a cause of failure. Just move the bottle gently. Never turn them.
      If the fruit is exposed to the air, it may become moldy.
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