Last weekend, I decided to try my hand at making some home made ume-shu. Ume shu(梅酒) is a delicious Japanese plum wine. Actually, ume isn’t a plum- it’s like a cross between a plum and apricot. The unripened green fruit are infused into a clear spirit (焼酎, shōchū) with added rock sugar and left over time, a delicious sweet drink is the result.
I have been lucky enough to have sampled many home made ume shu given to me by different students at my English conversation schools – Smith’s School of English Nakamozu スミス英会話 なかもず校 （月謝） and Smith’s School of English Sakai Higashi スミス英会話 堺東校 （月謝） Osaka, Japan. When I first tried the sweet wine, I thought that there must be some difficult traditional methods and recipes needed to produce the wine. However, I was really surprised to learn how simple it is to make it myself. Back in Australia I brewed my own home brew beer (sometimes with mixed results), and I must say that this process is so much easier!
I decided to make 2 different flavours. I bought the glass jars and all the ingredients at the local supermarket in Sakai Higashi. It seems that the traditional ingredients of ume, white spirit (sometimes brandy) and rock sugar are seldom substituted. So for my first batch I used the traditional recipe with a bottle of brandy added also.
At Christmas time in Australia, I remember as a child my mum would prepare a very sweet and spicy fruit infused wine. We would eat this over vanilla ice cream. As Christmas is in the middle of summer in Australia, this desert was a big hit with my family. So my second bottle of ume shu is spiced with cinnamon, cloves and black peppercorns. I’m looking forward to what the traditionalists have to say about the flavour of my spiced ume shu. I know it’s going to taste great!
I have enough ume and white spirit left to make a small ultra experimental third batch. I am leaning towards a hot chilli ume shu. I think the sweetness from the wine and the heat from the chillies will go well, though most of my Smith’s English Conversation School students are not so sure. Time will tell.
Smiths School of English Nakamozu. スミス英会話 なかもず校 （月謝）
Smiths School of English Sakai Higashi. スミス英会話 堺東校 （月謝）