June 13, 2012

Ume Jam/梅ジャム

1 kg ao ume (unripe ume)
800 g sugar
70-90% of the ume by weight

Enameled pot

1.  Wash ume, and remove the "heta" (calyx) from each ume.
2.  Soak ume in cold water for a few hours, overnight, or up to 24 hours, depending on the amount of "aku" (harshness) in them.
3.  Put ume in enameled pot, add water, bring to a boil, simmer for a few minutes until soft, and drain.
4.  Remove stone from each ume.  Strain if required.
5.  Put flesh in enameled pot, add half sugar, turn on the heat, and simmer for about 5 min., stirring constantly and skimming foam.
6.  Add remaining sugar, and simmer again, constantly stirring, until the desired texture is obtained.
青梅 1 kg
砂糖 800 g


1.  梅を洗い、「へた」を取る。
2.  アクの量により、数時間、一晩、24時間、冷水に漬ける。
3.  ホーロー鍋に入れ、水を入れ、沸騰させ、柔らかくなるまで煮て、水を切る。
4.  種を取る。必要に応じて裏ごしする。
5.  果肉をホーロー鍋に入れ、砂糖を半分入れ、火を点け、常にかき混ぜ、アクを取りながら、5分程度煮る。。
6.  残りの砂糖を加え、常にかき混ぜながら、適度な柔らかさになるまで煮る。

I soaked the ume for only 1 hour, and put in the freezer (because I initially planned to make ume drink with them.)
Ume in an enameled pot:

Despite the recipe above, I turned off the heat before the pot came to a boil, and let sit for a few minutes.

Then, I drained.

I didn't remove the stones from ume.

Within ten minutes or so, the ume looked OK.  Despite the recipe, I used only 600 g sugar after all.
10分程度で、良さそうな状態になりました。レシピと異なり、結局、砂糖は600 gしか使いませんでした。

"Looks delicious!", I thought.

I was wrong.  I found the resultant ume jam was quite bitter.

I searched for solutions, and found one:  Return to pot and add an equal amount of water, and simmer again, while skimming foam.  I tried the solution a few days later.

I also removed stones from the jam while skimming foam.
I failed to reduce the jam to the original amount (because I was not patient enough), but somehow managed to reduce the bitterness to some degree.

I had yogurt with some of the watery jam.
Not bad.  The next time I make ume jam, I will be more careful!

I forgot to mention that I added additional 200 g sugar in an attempt to offset the bitterness.
I have already asked my father to send some ripe ume next year (and this year, too, if possible), so I can make ume jam with ripe ume.
苦味を和らげるため砂糖を200 g足しました。


muskratbyte said...

Just a thought, but do you think the stones could have contributed to the bitterness?

Sissi said...

I was going to say the same thing (about the stones). I sometimes make jams from very sour fruits (sour cherries for example) and it never becomes bitter, only acid which is of course helped with more sugar.
On the other hand, as I said ume is a huge mystery to me!
By the way, everyone in Western countries compares unripe ume to unripe apricots, but after your posts now I think it is very similar (visusally and I think maybe also in consistency) to unripe mirabelle plum. I don't know if you have it in Japan. When it's ripe it has a very delicate taste and smells a bit like ripe melon. When it's unripe it's very acid and tougher.

Hiroyuki said...

muskratbyte and Sissi: I failed to remove aku (harsh, bitter, and other unwanted components) from ume properly, and that's the main reason why I got such a bitter jam. Ume stones may have had a minor contribution, but when I have them (they are still in the fridge), I sense little bitterness (they are sweet and sour).

Sissi, I know nothing about "mirabelle plum". According to Wikipedia,
The mirabelle is identified by its small, oval shape, smooth-textured flesh, and especially by its dark yellow colour which becomes flecked in appearance. They are known for being sweet and full of flavour.

Ume look like them, but differ in flavor. Ume are really, really acidic!

Sissi said...

Ume are also acid even when ripe? (I was thiking about unripe mirabelles, which are very acid and some varieties do not have spots, at least in France and here). I really must taste fresh ume one day.

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: Yes, but I've never had ume raw, because they are slightly toxic!

Fräulein Trude said...

My yellow wild plum has this too: unripe it is tough, sour and the fruit flesh next to the stone tastes very bitter (you will get a "hairy" tongue feeling too while eating them). I think all plums are from the same family at least. I would like to recommend to remove the stones before cooking plum jam. I don't know Ume, maybe this plum is also a variety where the stones will not come off easily so this will be an annoying task but has to be done. I am quite sure, the bitterness is caused by the stones.

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: One site says that removing stones from ume is the toughest part (of ume jam making), so I skipped this step. I guess I was wrong. I hope I can get more ume (ripe ones) from my father so I can test to see if stones are the main source of bitterness.

The jam and the stones are now gone, mostly consumed by my wife!

Anonymous said...

Hiroyuki: Your jam looks so beautiful! I love the forest-green color, a very summer dish! With some lemon zest would be the colors of Australia for rugby! :)

A good trick to reduce bitterness in dishes is to add a pinch or two of salt. I don't really know the science behind it, but it works well.

Hiroyuki said...

Anonymous: Thanks for the trick. I will try your trick if I fail to make ume jam properly in the futre. This year, I successfully made less bitter ume jam. It was consumed very quickly by my wife!