3of Japanese favorite preserves / “Ume Work”

3of Japanese favorite preserves / “Ume Work”

Ume-work (梅仕事)  is the process of making homemade pickled plums, plum wine, and other preserved foods during the season when plums are in season. Ume harvest is around June, just in time for the rainy season. By making ume preserves during this season, you can enjoy homemade pickled plums and plum wine throughout the year.

What kind of plum preserves are there?

Ume-boshi (pickled plums)

Ume-boshi are made by pickling plums in salt and then drying them in the sun. There are various types of pickled plums, such as "Shiroboshi Ume" pickled with only plums and salt, "Shisozuke Ume" pickled with red perilla, and "Hachimitsu Ume" with honey added. It takes about a month and a half to complete the process, but the taste of homemade pickled plums is exceptional.


Umeshu (plum wine)

Umeshu is a mellow, aromatic fruit wine made by slowly macerating plums in sugar and sake. It is usually made with shochu, but you can create your own plum wine by using your favorite liquor such as shochu or brandy. The alcohol used should be at least 20 degrees alcohol by volume.


Ume Jam

Ume jam is made by removing the seeds from plums and boiling them down with sugar. The sweet, sour, and refreshing flavor is a delicious taste that cannot be found in any other fruit.


Types of Ume

Ume are divided into three types according to the time of harvest and ripeness: "green ume," "fully ripe ume," and "super-ripe ume. Each has a different color, firmness, and flavor, so it is important to choose the ume that best suits the way you will use it.

Green Ume (Japanese apricot)

These green plums are available in early June. The ume fruits are crunchy, hard, and fresh, so they can be used in a wide range of dishes, such as ume sake and ume syrup for a refreshing flavor, ume miso, pickles, soy sauce pickles, and natsudai (sweetened soy sauce stew).


Fully ripened ume

This term refers to plums that are slightly yellow in color when they appear in mid-June. The ume fruits are soft and have a sweet aroma, so they are recommended for making ume sake and ume syrup with a mellow flavor, ume miso, ume jam, and so on.


Super-ripe ume

These plums are available from mid to late June, when they are yellow and ripe. These super-ripe plums are the best for making delicious pickled plums. We also recommend making ume jam with its mellow aroma. However, since the fruits are too soft to make other preserved foods such as pickles and ume miso, it is best to remember that they are only for pickled plums and ume jam.


For Beginners! How to make Umeshu (plum wine)

Ume contains organic acids such as citric acid, which is believed to help relieve fatigue and other symptoms. Umeshu (plum wine) is recommended for the coming season!

Green ume: 1 kg
・ Glacial sugar : 500-800 g 
・ Shochu : 1.8 liters 
・ Container for fruit wine : 4-liter
・Several bamboo skewers (strong ones are recommended)

  1. First of all, the plums need to be drained of their acridity. Place the plums in a bowl or other container filled with plenty of water and let them soak for 2 to 4 hours to remove the scum. *If you are using fully ripe plums that have turned yellow or frozen plums, soaking them in water will damage them, so removing the scum is not necessary.
  2.  Next, carefully rinse the plums under running water. After washing, drain them in a colander. Remove any large or damaged plums. Then, wipe off the water with a clean dishcloth or kitchen towel and let dry for a while.

  3. Hull part of the plum using a bamboo skewer. If you do not hull, the plums may taste bitter, so be sure to remove the heft. The key to making a good plum wine is to hull.

  4. Put plums and icing sugar in a container. Put the plums first and then the glacial sugar on top of the plums. Then, put the plums and the glacial sugar into the container alternately.

  5.  When the plums and the icing sugar are finished, pour the shochu gently over the plums and the icing sugar. You can make plum wine without shochu as long as the alcohol content is 35% or higher. The quantities are the same.

  6. Close the lid tightly and store in a cool, dark place. Move the container several times a week until the glacial sugar has dissolved to even out the sugar content inside. Once the icing sugar has melted, wait for the sake to become a delicious plum liqueur.

    You can enjoy a light plum wine in about three months, but it is ready to drink in six months to a year. Further slow aging will give it a full-bodied, deep and delicious plum wine. It is said that the longer you wait, the deeper the plum wine becomes. Please try it at home.


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Please take advantage of this opportunity 🍶🍹.

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