Umeshu (Japanese plum liqueur)

June 02, 2018 / by Junko

Umeshu (梅酒) is often called Plum wine but I think it is more like a sweet-sour cordial liqueur.

For me, making Umeshu is a seasonal event in June.
Fresh green ume plums are sold only in this early summer season, so when I find them in a supermarket, I won’t miss them.

As it’s so easy to make, many families in Japan enjoy making umeshu with their own recipes.
White liquor or Shochu is typically used, but some use brandy, whiskey, or Japanese sake (rice wine). As I don’t like a too sweet taste, I use less sugar. Furthermore, you can change not only the amount of sugar but also the type of sugar to give them different kind of sweetness.
We bring homemade umeshu together and enjoy various kinds of tastes with friends.

Oh, I also have to mention newly made umeshu has to be stored at least half to one year until they are ready to be enjoyed. But it is worth to wait for them! When they are ready to drink, you can eat the plums too! They are crispy and tasty, sometimes I get drunk after eating too many plums 😜

Ume plums are considered to be good for your health. We drink them any time but it would be also nice as an aperitif.


* You will need 4L glass jar.


  1. To sanitize the jar, pour boiling water into the jar. Tilt the jar diagonally and make the hot water turn thoroughly around. Drain and air dry. Wipe inside with white liqueur.
  2. Wash the green plums. Discard the plums with any brown or blemished spots.
  3. Put them in water for about 1 hour to remove the harshness.
  4. Wipe off all the moisture. Remove all the stem ends from the plums with a toothpick.
  5. In the clean jar, Layer plums and sugar alternately. Then add the liquor.
  6. Seal and store in a cool, dark place (but not in a refrigerator). For the first month, gently move the container every couple of days so that sugar and the liquor mix well. You can start drinking from 6 months but I recommend to wait for one year.

* I recommend the sugar amount to be between half weight of the plums (500g) to equal weight (1kg). Popular amount is about 800g but I actually make umeshu with 400g sugar for myself. You just have to try it out to find out your liking.

There are so many Japanese dishes and cultures that are not well known outside of Japan and I’m happy to introduce them to you! If you tested any of our recipes feel free to send us a photo and your comments and we will be happy to publish them, even if it wasn't a complete success! :)

Seeking the best balance of being free and living a stable life in this busy city, I enjoy kitchen gardening to deepen my connection with nature. Lately, I enjoy traveling to places I’ve never been and dancing Salsa/Kizomba there. Always a traveler at heart. Freelance web/graphic designer. Coffee & chocolate addict.
page top