Making Umeshu


In mid-June, we took part in one of my favorite Japanese traditions: making something to eat and drink. Japan is hugely focused on seasonal foods and treats, and umeshu (plum wine) is one of them. By June, all the ingredients to make your own plum wine at home were front and center in Japanese groceries. I love Japan, I love wine, and plums seem cool, so I was on board.

We got together a group of friends and super-detailed instructions on what to do and set to work.

The gist of it is… start out with clean plums and remove the stems.

Japanese plums

Dry them off!

making umeshu

Add your rock sugar in layers so the sugar gets soaked up evenly.

making japanese umeshu

Add your fruit liquor.

how to make umeshu

If you feel like getting crazy, you can also add brandy. Here I am, adding a whole bottle, because why not. I made two batches, one with brandy and one without, so I’ll be able to be super snobby speak in an educated way about which is better.

Way too much fun making umeshu

The final step is keeping them in a dry, dark place and giving them a good shake every so often until they’re ready to drink… ONE YEAR LATER. So basically, have some umeshu on hand to try while you’re making umeshu, because you won’t be able to have the fruits of your labor for quite some time.

How to make plum wine

Here’s the link to the incredibly detailed instructions which also explain exactly what to look for in the stores:


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