June 12, 2012

Ume Drink/梅ジュース

Note:  In Japan, this drink is called ume juice or ume syrup.  In Japanese, the word juice is used to mean any non-alcoholic drink.  To mean fruit extract, the more accurate word kajuu is used.

1 kg ao ume, literally blue ume but actually green ume, i.e., unripe ume
800 g to 1 kg sugar
(I used 1 kg shiro zatou, the most common type of sugar in Japan.  Some recipes recommend using rock sugar.)

Glass jar with a capacity of 3 liters or greater

You will need alcohol to sterilize the jar.

注: 日本では、この飲み物は梅ジュースとか梅シロップと呼ばれています。日本語では、アルコールの入っていない飲み物なら何でも「ジュース」と呼ばれます。果物から採った汁を指すには、もっと正確な「果汁」という言葉を使います。

青梅 1 kg。青梅とは、実際は緑色の梅、つまり、未熟の梅のことです。
砂糖 800 g1 kg
(私は、日本では最も一般的な白砂糖を1 kg使いました。氷砂糖を薦めるレシピーもあります。)



1.  Wash ume and soak in cold water for a few hours.
(I soaked mine for 1 hour.  Some recipes do not say to soak ume.)
2.  Remove "heta" (calyx) from each ume, with a toothpick or something similar.
3.  Dry each ume, using dry cloth.
4.  Put all ume in a plastic bag, and put in the freezer overnight.
(Some recipes recommend not freezing ume.)
5.  Wash jar, and sterilize the inside with alcohol.
6.  Put some sugar in jar first, then some ume.  Repeat this step, making sure that you top it with sugar.
Correction:  Put some ume in jar first, then some sugar.
7.  Leave jar in a cool, dark place, with some newspaper beneath it.
8.  Shake jar once or twice a day.

Ume drink will be made in one week to ten days.
To drink, dilute with four to five times the amount of water.

Some recipes recommend sterilizing ume drink at 80C for 10 to 15 minutes before storage.
1.  梅を洗い、水に数時間漬けます。
2.  楊枝などで、梅から「へた」を取ります。
3.  乾いた布で、梅を拭きます。
4.  梅を全部、ビニール袋に入れ、冷凍庫に一晩置きます。
5.  瓶を洗い、内側をアルコールで消毒します。
6.  最初に、瓶に砂糖を少し入れ、次に梅を少し入れます。これを繰り返します。最後には上部に砂糖が来るようにします。
7.  下に新聞紙を敷いて、瓶を冷暗所に置きます。
8.  瓶を毎日1~2回、振ります。



This is the "heta" of an ume.
It's rather time-consuming to remove the heta from each and every ume.

Obviously, my jar was way too big for 1 kg ume.
見て分かるように、この瓶は1 kgの梅には大き過ぎました。

Ten days have passed.
Almost all ume are now wrinkled up.
I had one glass.
I was a little disappointed by the flavor.  I had thought it would be more sour.

Some recipes recommend using the used ume to make ume jam.  I tasted the ume, and decided not to.  Not much flavor left.


Sissi said...

Hiroyuki, can you imagine this is the way my mum and grandmother used to make raspberry syrup? Especially my grandmother used to make a lot of it.
The glass with ice and the drink looks very appetising. Do you think it wasn't sour enough because you have put too much sugar?
When I make fruit infused vodkas I find the remaining fruit quite often tasteless. They give lots of its flavour to the alcohol.

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: I can see from your blog that you are an expert on these things, so I think you are the right person to ask this question:
Many recipes say to freeze the ume before putting them in a jar. They say that by freezing, you can prevent the ume from fermentation. Some warn against freezing because doing so will never make good ume drink. Do you have anything to say about freezing vs. not freezing?

You are a shrewd observer. Yes, because some sugar was left undissolved on the bottom of the jar.

Ruminating Roy said...

Hiroyuki, my wife put a jar of ume away this spring to make umeshu using the exact same method you described, excepting that our ao ume arrived frozen.

The freezing process not only kills some bacteria, it also breaks down cell walls within the fruit and helps speed up the extraction process. So long as you've washed and dried the ume well, and sterilized the jar with a bit of shochu, you should not have to worry about any fermentation starting unless you leave the jar out in sunlight on a really hot week.

Ellen said...

Hiroyuki, thanks again for a great post. I always enjoy reading your blog, and I learn something new each time.

I have always wanted to try making 梅ジュース like this, but don't have good access to ao-ume where I live (near Washington, DC). I think that the market near my house sometimes has them, so I should stop by this weekend to check.

Kelly said...

Thanks for posting this. I've had some rock sugar given to me years ago for this very drink, but no recipe. Now I have a reason to use it.

Sissi said...

Hiroyuki, thank you. I'm very flattered, but I'm not an expert! On the other hand the syrup you prepare is often the first stage of my fruit infused alcohols, so I have a bit of experience with sugar and fruit.
For me keeping fruit in sugar carries a risk of fermentation if the room temperature is too high (I suppose freezing might lower the preparation's temperature but not for a long time...) or if you don't shake the container to dissolve the sugar quicker. My mum also says the fruit should be entirely covered by sugar and then by syrup which should prevent fermentation (less air contact maybe?). I have had only once a fermentation problem (with quince), but since I was going to make a quince infused vodka then, I strained it and then carried on normally and it was ok.
Oh, now I see Ruminating Roy has given you a very professional advice! I have no experience with unripe ume...

Fräulein Trude said...

The sugar may prevent fermantion for some time but it will start I guess after a little air contact. With the same method it is easy to make lots of berry juices but I would boil it up once to have this nice juice in storage much longer, for winter.

Hiroyuki said...

Ruminating Roy: Thanks for mentioning what I failed to mention. That's exactly the problem I had. I mean, when I searched for recipes, I found this site:
(Japanese only)

This guy, who claims to be an ume instructor, says:

Never freeze ume. Don't pierce them, either. Otherwise, the tissue of ume would be destroyed, the aroma and flavor would decrease drastically, and you would not be able to make superb ume syrup.

One other site also says not freezing ume results in better ume drink.
(Japanese only)

Hiroyuki said...

Ellen: Thanks for your comment.

You can also use ripe ume to make ume drink, but soft ones should be avoided.

Hiroyuki said...

Kelly: You are lucky. Rock sugar costs about 2 to 3 times more expensive here in Japan. But, I'd like to point out that rock sugar may not be the right type of sugar to use, although some recipes recommend it, because it's slow to dissolve, and may increase the risk of spoilage and fermentation. Rock sugar is usually used to make umeshu, together with "white liquor" or shochu.

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: You got me again! I used a rather big jar, and I failed to make the ume entirely covered by the sugar, so I was worried about spoilage or fermentation. Luckily, my ume drink turned out unharmed!

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: For winter? I think I will use up my ume drink in this summer, so I think I'll skip the "boiling".

MOM2_4 said...

Thank you for this easy to follow post about making ume juice. My ume are now soaking. I hope this year the juice turns out. Last year it went bad!

Hiroyuki said...

MOM2_4: You are quite welcome!

I visited your blog. You are in Kashiwazaki! It must be a good place to live in, with much less snow than here in Shiozawa, and you are close to the sea!