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How to make delicious Fruit Liquors: a tribute to Japanese Umeshu

October 12, 2014

There are a lot of wild plum and greengage trees near to my house and they all seemed to crop incredibly well this year, after starting a gallon of plum wine and making a lot of plum jam there were still thousands of fruits on the trees, the majority of which I knew would simply rot and go to waste on the floor. So I started looking into more ways to use the fruit harvest when someone mentioned that it would probably be pretty easy to make a drink like Umeshu… Well that turned out to be a great idea. The Japanese plum or ume (Prunus mume) is halfway to an apricot in flavour, so tastes slightly different to this recipe which used the fruit of a sweet, late-season red-skinned cultivar of Prunus domestica. But like with Umeshu I only used the still-firm unripe fruit. I think the similarities between the two flavours are close enough for this to be a very similar drink, and using wild plums fits much more into the whole gathering ethos than paying hefty import costs for something only slightly different to the fruit I can get for free.

This basic recipe can be used for any fruit liqueur, at the moment I am also making blackberry whisky using the same principle, and next summer I am going to be making batches using strawberries and currant fruits from the garden too. You simply need to steep fresh fruits with sugar in a hard alcohol of your choice for at least 3 months (and preferably around 6), to produce a delicious and versatile liquor.

– Recipe –

  1. Clean a tall jar with a tight fitting lid, the bigger the jar the more drink you can make.
  2. Wash the Fruit you are going to use, discarding any damaged or discoloured fruit.
  3. Pour the fruit into the jar until it roughly half fills the jar and then weigh the Fruit.
  4. Measure out half the weight of the fruit in Sugar, then pour both the Sugar and the Fruit into the jar.
  5. Pour your chosen alcohol in (Vodka is best for a clean fruit flavour) until the Fruit is covered completely by roughly an inch of alcohol, close the lid and shake well.
  6. Put this in a cool dark place for at least 3 months (and preferably around 6), shaking it every week or so.

Enjoy!

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