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June 13 2010

How to Make Umeshu (Plum Liqueur)

Well it’s that time of year again (heading into summer) and that can only mean one thing in Japan, time to make Umeshu!

Umeshu is a sweet, sour plum liqueur quite popular with women in Japan, and can also appeal to people who don’t like the taste of alcohol apparently.
Last week Japanese supermarkets started stocking the ingredients, equipment and instructions on how to make this umeshu and for the first time my wife decided to try her hand at making it. So I thought I’d give you a run-down on How To Make Umeshu.

umeshu ingredients

Umeshu Ingredients

First of, the ingredients :

  • 1kg Ume (a small, green – when unripe – Japanese plum).
  • 500g of sugar (crystal type as they call it in “Japanese”, probably Sugar Rocks in English?).
  • 1.8 litres of alcohol (this seems to be a special kind of unflavoured alcohol used for making umeshu and other kind of fruit liqueurs, you can also use cheap brandy or sake instead if you prefer).
  • Big closeable jar to make the umeshu in.

Some recipes say 1kg of sugar, or even 200g of sugar, but we decided to go with 500g which is what the jar recommended.

Using this method you can in theory (according to the side of the alcohol box) make any kind of fruit liqueur, for example apple, strawberry, even garlic – I know it’s not a fruit but don’t be pedantic.

We were going with tradition and making Ume (Plum) Liqueur.

So now on to the instructions.

  1. Clean the jar with water and let it dry.
  2. Thoroughly wash the ume in water, and throw away any mouldy fruit and de-stem them.
  3. Thoroughly dry the ume. This is very important apparently.
  4. Start “layering” the ume and sugar in the jar, like a lasagne.
    So a layer of fruit, then a layer of sugar, then a layer of fruit, etc., until you run out.
  5. Pour in your 1.8 litres of alcohol.
  6. Put in a cool, dark cupboard.
  7. Once a day, take it out and gently shake the jar to help the rock sugar dissolve.
    Do this everyday until it has all dissolved.
  8. You’ve finished! Leave it in the cupboard until it’s ready.



The umeshu will be ready in about 3 months, when you can drink it, however it is probably best to leave it longer to get a better taste.
6 months, 1 year or even longer are recommended. (not by me, but by umeshu recipes my wife found).

After 6 months to 1 year you should take the fruit out and you can use them to make jams or other such fruity things.

And there you have it. After a couple of days our rock sugar has almost completely dissolved and now we just have to sit back and wait. I don’t actually like umeshu, it’s too sweet and sour for me, so I won’t be doing much waiting…I will however blog about it when we crack open the jar in a few months time.


  1. […] wine : (Umeshu) is made of Japanese plums, sugar, and shochu or nihonshu. Its sweet, fruity, juice-like flavour […]

    Pingback by Japan – Tipple Tourism | Wine, Beer, Sake, Whiskey Blog at MoIppai — May 8, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

  2. Where can I buy the ingredients in US?

    Comment by kim — July 11, 2013 @ 1:27 am

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