Making ume-juice, umeshu, umeboshi

May-Aug 2008

With the help of Hasegawa-san and together with Mae Rose we made Ume-juice and Ume-shu and later also Umeboshi. All are made of some special type of plum, the juice and shu from unripe (green and very hard) ones and the umeboshi from the same type, but after they have ripened and gotten soft and yellow.

Ume-juice is practically just putting plums and sugar in a jar and leaving it for a month. Ume-shu is basically ume, big sugar crystals and white liquor in a jar and leaving it for a long time. Umeboshi is the most elaborate. It is ume with salt (upto about 20% of the weight of the plums! To make sure it doesn't go bad.), putting weight on it so the juice will get out of the ume and dissolve the salt so the ume will be protected by the salty fluid. Then there is akajiso (leaves of the red beefsteak plant) to be rubbed with salt and squeezed to get rid of the bitter taste before putting it with the ume, and finally they have to dry 3 consecutive days in the sun (which is a difficult task in the rainy season).

The stuff needed to make umejuice and umeshu

Washing ume

Drying ume

Ume-shu (left) and ume-juice (right) in the process

Keeping the umeshu and umejuice

Putting weight on the umeboshi

Drying the akajiso

rubbing akajiso with salt and squeezing bitter juice out. As the coloring is very strong, I decided to use gloves.

The ume smell really great at this stage, but if you taste the liquid... it is sooooo horribly salty

After keeping the ume with the akajiso

drying the ume

you should keep the ume outside overnight ast the morning dew is said to make the skin softer (nicer to eat). However I was affraid of rain while I was asleep so I covered it.

This is the result. Now it has to "ripen" for at least 6 months, but 1 year is reccommended. Some umeboshi are said to have been kept for over 10 years and still taste great (or even teast greater than ever before).