Happy Donabe Life

Japanese Plum Liqueur


Ume-shu is a traditional Japanese plum liqueur and one of the most popular alcoholic drinks to make at home in Japan. My late mother used to make a few large batches when plums were in season (May – June) every year, and now I’m taking over the tradition in my home in LA. She used to sip it o the rocks after dinner (or sometimes before dinner). I like it on the rocks or sometimes enjoy it mixed with sparkling water. Rich in vitamins, minerals,, and citric acid, ume-shu is also known for its health benefits. A small glass of ume-shu every day can help remove fatigue from your body and rejuvenate it.

Vegan option

This is a vegan dish/ drink.

4-qt (4 L) glass jar, sterilized


About 2 qt (2 liters)


  • 2.2 – 2.5 lbs (1 – 1.5 kg) Ume (Japanese plum)
  • 2 pounds or more (about 950 g) crystal sugar
  • 2.4 qt (2.4 liters) neutral shochu (white liqueur) (25 – 30% al)


  1. Rinse the ume. Pick any stems attached to the skin and discard. Pat to dry them very well.
  2. Put 1/3 of the ume into the jar, followed by 1/3 of the crystal sugar. Repeat twice more.
  3. Pour the white shochu into the jar.
  4. Cover tightly and let it rest in a cool area (avoid direct sunlight) for 6 months.
  5. Pour some of the liquid into a glass (with a piece or two of the ume) and enjoy.

  Suggestions to enjoy the Ume-shu:

  • On the rocks
  • Mix with sparkling water
  • Mix with fruit juice

Get the ingredients ready. Make layers of the ume and crystal sugar. Finally, pour the shochu. The mixture will be rested for the next 6 months or longer until it’s ready.  

Umeshu can continue to age for a very long time. After a year, the flavor will become even richer. You can keep the ume in the liqueur meanwhile. One year, my mom found a forgotten batch of her ume-shu from 20 years ago. The volume was already reduced by 1/3 and the color was caramel. We tried it and it was super delicious and so precious!


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