Homemade Ume Shu (Plum Liqueur)


Sorry for the long lapse in posts, things have been crazy here recently! Not only did a take a long (and well deserved) vacation to Montréal (more  on that later), but I recently got engaged! If you care to see all of my wedding-related inspiration, you can hop on over to my “Wedding Ponderings” board on Pinterest.

The perfect drink for a celebration, and for the summer is ume shu (梅酒). Translated as plum wine or plum liqueur, this drink can be served on its own as a cordial, on the rocks, or used more like a syrup and mixed with soda water. Ume shu is one of my favorite drinks because it reminds me of my time spent in Japan as a student, and later a teacher. It was the prefect drink to cool off with during the hot, muggy summers at the end of a long day. Even the cheap ume shu in Japan seemed to taste better than whatever I could find here, so I would always stock up when I was there. Now that I know I can make my own for less than the baggage overage-fees, I’ll be on the lookout for ume in the store constantly.

7898_10100987043368986_2069828772_n If you can find ume (green plums) in your local supermarket, it’s not that hard to make your own ume shu–all you need is soju/shochu, rock sugar, and ume plums. The hardest thing is waiting 3 months for your concoction to be ready!

If you want to buy plum wine, it’s pretty affordable and readily available in stores. My favorite is Hakutsuru, but a good backup is Takara or Kinsen. Those are both a bit hard to find, but I know Choya and even Gekkeikan are available at wine shops, Cost Plus World Market, and Asian groceries.

The recipe I used is from Kitchn, but other bloggers such as Miss Mochi have their own tutorials as well. I had already made my ume shu by the time I saw this video, but it’s also a great way to learn too.

Homemade Ume Shu (Plum Liqueur) Recipe

By nicole Published: June 27, 2013

    This recipe is made in a quart glass jar. The measurements for sugar and ume below are approximate. You'll want to measure the weight of your plums and use half that weight in sugar (2:1 ratio).



    1. Wash the plums and remove the stems. The stems are small and deep, so use a toothpick or your pinky fingernail to dig them out.
    2. Place a layer of plums in the jar, then a layer of rock sugar, then a layer of plums, then a layer of rock sugar. Continue until all the plums and sugar are used up.
    3. Pour the alcohol in the jar until there's about an inch of alcohol over the top of the plums.
    4. Put the lid on the jar securely and store the plums in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar occasionally to help the sugar mix with the alcohol.
    5. After 5 to 6 months, the umeshu is ready to drink.
    6. However, this liqueur mellows with age, so you may notice a different flavor after a year or two. Try making a few different batches, and drink one after 6 months, drink the other after a year, and drink the next after 2 years.

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      1. AH! Congrats on the engagement! I love the picture of you two!

        Your recipe is awesome, because it allows for such a smaller volume. I have a huge jug of umeshu taking up valuable cabinet space right now as it matures, so it’s a great idea to scale it back for a quart size.

        Cooking with Dog is one of my fave youtube channels. I love the way chef is so good with her knives. Whenever I have to chop anything, it takes foreeeeevveeerr! 😀