We harvested “aoume” 青梅 or unripe green plum last weekend for 2010 umeshu.
Although I posted umeshu when I bottled the 08 vintage, I decided to add a few more images and a description of how to make umeshu. We usually use 1 lb of plums, 1/2 lb of sugar and 1.75 liter of liquor (either Vodka or brandy), but we started using 2 lb of plums with the 2008 vintage since our tree produces so much fruit. Traditionally, rock sugar or “koorizatou” 氷砂糖 is used but it is difficult to find rock sugar here in the U.S. and we cannot detect the difference in the end product, so we use regular granulated sugar. I think the reason for using rock sugar is that it will slowly melt producing a saturated sugar containing liquid layer. Since this layer has a high specific gravity (as compare to the remaining liquid) the saturated layer will remain in the bottom for some time extracting plum juice. I try to achieve the same effect by coating the fruit with sugar and leaving it over night to extract the plum juice before adding the liquor as described below.
I use brandy for one batch and Vodka for two other batches as you can see below. For brandy, I use Christian Brothers, not Remy Martin XO, but that is up to you. I also use the cheapest Vodka I can find.
I gently pour in the liquor so as not to disturb the sugar in the bottom. As you can see below, undissolved sugar can be seen in the bottom. My hope is that the sugar will melt gradually and produce a concentrated sugar layer in the bottom of the jar.
I just place the containers on a shelf in the basement or where ever they will not be in your way and wait for one year before bottling and drinking. Just don’t forget about it. (I forgot to bottle the ’08 vintage for 2 years but the result was still good. So if you do forget, a few extra years don’t seem to hurt.) Several years of bottle aging will make umeshu better.