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Wafuu spirits


JasonTrue
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John that's similar to the proportions I use - but I find that low-sugar umeshu takes longer to mature.

Didn't get my umeshu started (hoping to get to that today...) but I have got my

Ume Sour underway - that's roughly equal quantities by volweight of a good vinegar (this time I used cider vinegar as an experiment), rock sugar, and green ume. I make this every year, varying the amount of sugar, and find that leaving it for a year makes it very mellow indeed to drink (1 part syrup to 3-5 parts water), even for kids.

This is the time of the year for fresh, young ginger, so try making Shouga-shu. I'm considering a small batch with ume and ginger rather than lemon and ginger...

Shouga-shu

200-300g young ginger root, sliced

1 lemon, zest and sliced fruit, pith discarded, optional

200g rock sugar

1.8 liters white liquor

(or quantities to suit, in proportion)

For green shiso leaves - try this version. Plain herb liqueurs can be really "lawn-clipping" in flavor.

Shiso-shu

1.8 liter pack of White Liquor

Green shiso leaves and optionally, fresh seeds or flowering tops: 130 dried leaves, 200g fresh. Use whole.

150-200g rock sugar or 1c honey

70g ginger (sliced), optional

4 lemons, optional – remove zest, remove and discard pith, slice. Use zest and fruit

Place all ingredients in a large glass jar. Remove lemon and ginger after 1-2 months, and leave shiso leaves indefinitely. For medicinal purposes drink 20 ml straight or dilute with hot or cold water, once or twice daily.

Dokudami-shu (houttuynia cordata)

For medicinal purposes, the whole plant is pulled up while flowering, washed and dried (often in the sun, to drive off the stinky coriander-like smell, though you can also dry it in shade if you are careful to dry it thoroughly). You can include the root (washed) even. However, I'm considering trying some with the young leaves, shoots, and flowers, to see how that fresh orangey-coriander scent comes across).

For medicinal purposes it is usually made without sugar, so that it can be used externally. Some people swear that strongly alcoholic white liquor should not be used for this, only shochu or even white wine.

500-600g by weight of fresh dokudami (before drying)

up to 200g rock sugar or honey, optional

1.8 liters of white liquor or 20-grade shouchuu

Infuse for 2-3 months.

And just in case I forget when that season rolls around...

Chrysanthemum sake is drunk on September 9 for long life and good health. Use yellow flowers and cover with 3 times by weight of white liquor, infuse for 1-3 months. The simple version is just to strew a few chrysanthemum petals on plain sake.

Edited by helenjp (log)
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There were a number of orchards near the place we rented after we first returned to Japan. Most were semi-abandoned...beautiful ume fruit literally falling on the ground but no one bothering to pick them (sadly, most of the properties converted to mansions a few years later).

We adopted a policy of adopting abandoned fruit after that first year and that as it happens was my introduction to making umeshu. Admittedly the first picking may have been inspired by a tad overconsuming umeshu or one of the other shu's 5:00 that Saturday morning but there you go.

A number of years on, a pair of ume trees we planted in the front of our current place are now starting to bear fruit. I've been slack on trimming the trees of late but my efforts (mentioned in another post) to revive the herb garden inspired a bit of trimming this afternoon. They fruit are a bit small right now but all over the branches.

Looks like we'll be making umeshu once again and this time with our own fruit!

(...but I can't help noticing a number of samishii ume trees in the neighborhood with no one to collect their fruit...)

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Did anyone else start their umeshu?

No, umeshu is sweet and is generally considered a sake for women. My mother used to make it every year.

So, you ended up making umeshu or is sake brewery in progress secretly?

I haven't started the sake yet, i need to buy koji again and devote a weekend to making it. umeshu is so simple that I thought I would give it a try.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I made the ginger spirits with young ginger this year, and it's looking good! It has a slightly floral nature, and the modest amount of lemon helps it along nicely.

The dokudami is very effective on teen pimples :raz: and a second batch of ume-shu with black sugar is about to be put down, using the green ume left after harvesting all our ume for umeboshi today.

Edited to say...forgot to mention that the dokudami shochu is a surprisingly successful taste - no stinky grassy smell, just an aromatic orangey tang. I'm glad I didn't add sugar, because it's much better dry.

Edit much later: the slight sharpness of the black sugar was emphasized strongly by the sharpness of the ume - the result was rather harsh, and I won't use black sugar again.

Edited by helenjp (log)
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  • 3 months later...

I have a dilemma over which umeshu (plum wine) to drink.

I went through a few bottles of Choya (export bottle without plums). It was all going well until I bought some Mercian. It was pretty good. Real easy to drink. Then when I went back to Choya I noticed it was kind of harsh on my throat and preferred Mercian much more.

After wondering why Mercian was so good I checked the ingredients of both.

Choya had the bare necessities, while Mercian had brewery alcohol, plum flavour and other flavour enhancers with 4 digit number next to them.

I'd love to make my own but not an option at the moment. So what do you think? Am I out of the club if I drink Mercian? Do the flavour enhancers etc. really make it inferior? My instincts tell me that I should ditch the chemical riddled Mercian and stick with Choya.

Mercian actually feels more like drinking ume juice, rather than alcohol. So maybe I'll drink Choya and find a good ume juice. Can anyone suggest a good ume juice that's not too sweet?

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I don't know the Mercian brand you're referring to. But in my old age, Choya is becoming unbearably sweet. I think it tastes best diluted with some club soda... or more shochu :raz:

My umeshu at home, which I'm running out of, is not very sweet at all. I suspect that most homemade umeshu is lighter than Choya.

I was surprised that a "natural flavors" umeshu that I tried last year more pleasing to me than straight Choya, thanks only to the less syrupy nature of the drink. I still prefer a homemade one.

I do recall some excellent umeshu in a restaurant in Futako-tamagawa, at Tama-no Baiken restaurant.

http://blog.jagaimo.com/archive/2006/03/15/2314.aspx

In Japanese:

http://www.hotpepper.jp/A_20100/strJ000024603.html

One made with green tea (which I didn't try), one made with black sugar, and one which is pretty much like the one I make at home, "unfiltered", except a tad bit sweeter. My favorite was the kokutou, but I didn't get much of it, because it was Hiromi's :P

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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My umeshu at home, which I'm running out of, is not very sweet at all. I suspect that most homemade umeshu is lighter than Choya.

The homemade umeshu made by my parents-in-law is quite sweet. It's at least as sweet as Choya, which I haven't had in a long time. It's definitely sweeter (and has less kick) than the "assari" version of Choya that is made with brandy.

I desperately need to find a local source for ume so that I can start making my own umeshu.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Try around April-May in the Pacific Northwest.

I got some good ones last year, but the season is very brief here, and sometimes the quality isn't that good. This year they were expensive and terrible, so I didn't make umeshu at all.

I learned that I can make less sweet versions of these drinks when I tasted my friend's karin-shu (quince liqueur). It's true the ume flavor was more intense when I made a higher-sugar one two years ago.

The main reason for lots of sugar is the infusion is faster. I suppose you could do a high dose of sugar for two or three months then add some more vodka/brandy/gin whatever.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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The main reason for lots of sugar is the infusion is faster. I suppose you could do a high dose of sugar for two or three months then add some more vodka/brandy/gin whatever.

Thanks for the advice. Actually, the (sweet) umeshu from my parents-in-law is at least 3 years in the making, so I assume it's a matter of taste. However, it's good to know that my preferred sweetness level is quicker to produce.

Did you make your umeshu with shochu?

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I didn't use shochu. The only passable shochu in the Washington state liquor stores is iichiko, and it's far more expensive than iichiko should be (maybe a factor of 3 vs. the Japanese retail price). I just use a neutral vodka @ 40%.

In Vancouver, I think you'd have more options. I can get some ordinary Korean shochu as well, but I'm not sure it's high enough in alcohol to be safe for infusion, and as it's available only in small bottles it works out to be a bit more expensive than vodka.

Though my friend Hal tells me that his mother-in-law made the most fantastic umeshu ever, one or two years old... it turns out the secret was a Remy Martin cognac base.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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So what do you think? Am I out of the club if I drink Mercian? Do the flavour enhancers etc. really make it inferior? My instincts tell me that I should ditch the chemical riddled Mercian and stick with Choya.

I don't know why you think so in the first place. Some (Japanese) say they prefer Mercian, and Choya and Mercian are not the only companies that make umeshu.

I found this blog, where the blogger says she likes to try other umeshu, not just Choya. Look at all the photos there, and you may feel a little relieved.

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So what do you think? Am I out of the club if I drink Mercian? Do the flavour enhancers etc. really make it inferior? My instincts tell me that I should ditch the chemical riddled Mercian and stick with Choya.

I don't know why you think so in the first place. Some (Japanese) say they prefer Mercian, and Choya and Mercian are not the only companies that make umeshu.

I found this blog, where the blogger says she likes to try other umeshu, not just Choya. Look at all the photos there, and you may feel a little relieved.

Oh good. Thanks Hiroyuki. I might stick with Mercian for a while now.

I'd love to try other brands as soon as possible but in Australia I couldn't find anything else. It took so long to find somewhere that sells Choya, then the other day I stumbled across a bottle shop that sells all kinds of Japanese alcohol, but only two brands of umeshu.

I want to try the Suntory green tea liquor next.

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The Suntory green tea liqueur, if it's the same as the Hermes brand I saw in Japan, is dreadfully sweet also, but it's good mixed with about 3/4 gin or shochu. Milk helps if that's not an option.

I haven't tried the one that Suntory introduced to the US market, which may or may not be the same as what you can find in Australia... I thought it was extravagantly expensive for something that I recall being about $10 in Japan. (about $30 here in the US).

Of course, I just make my green tea gin by myself, which only takes 7 days or so.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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The Suntory green tea liqueur, if it's the same as the Hermes brand I saw in Japan, is dreadfully sweet also, but it's good mixed with about 3/4 gin or shochu. Milk helps if that's not an option.

I haven't tried the one that Suntory introduced to the US market, which may or may not be the same as what you can find in Australia... I thought it was extravagantly expensive for something that I recall being about $10 in Japan. (about $30 here in the US).

Of course, I just make my green tea gin by myself, which only takes 7 days or so.

Oh, you mean the one in one of the photos here? The 720-ml bottle was 1,449 yen including 5% consumption tax.

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I had assumed that umeshu was made with "white liquor" (basically the same as kou-rui shochu with a high proof of up to 35). My mother used to use "white liquor" anyway. Only today did I learn that an increasing number of people now use other alcoholic beverages like otsu-rui shochu and nihonshu (sake). They say that such beverages make better umeshu. I also learned that the local brewery, Aoki Shuzo, here in Shiozawa makes umeshu using its specially-brewed sake. I'm very interested in it, and may actually buy one bottle...

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Ah, yes, I have missed out on new additions to this thread as I've been very busy for a few months. That photo is the Hermes one I remember... a few years ago (circa 2000) I saw another brand/label, also, although that might have been just a different version of the label.

The US-marketed green tea liqueur is this one:

http://www.bevmo.com/productinfo.asp?sku=0...99&area=spirits

It runs about $32-35 in Washington state, as I recall, but at that web site it's cheap for states that allow direct sales of liquor by mail order. Most states restrict that, however. But like described in the earliest days of this thread, I just buy a $10 gin and make my own with my partner's sweetened matcha product.

Oh, you mean the one in one of the photos here?  The 720-ml bottle was 1,449 yen including 5% consumption tax.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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The Suntory Zen (sold outside of Japan) appears to be a different beast from the two types of green tea liqeurs that Suntory sells in Japan. For instance, Suntory's PR indicates that it contains lemongrass.

The two green tea liqueurs that Suntory sells in Japan are the Sasa and Japone liqeurs. The latter is supposed to be less sweet than the Sasa liqueur and more suitable as a drinking liqueur. (I have tasted none of the above and am only going on Suntory's info.)

http://www.suntory.co.jp/news/1999/7437.html

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I am really enjoying reading this thread. I'm not the only one who makes umeshu and lycheeshu! Once you make your own umeshu, it's very, very hard to go back to the commercial stuff. I also find it interesting that other people use brandy and gin for making other types of drinks. So far I've made umeshu, lycheeshu, and berry infused brandy (gorgeous taste and appearance). I've tried making my umeshu and lycheeshu with bothy sake and shochu and I prefer sake to shochu for the base.

Can you please tell me how you make your gin infused with matcha? I like gin (I'm a gin and tonic type) and no doubt I would enjoy this too.

I have two ume trees in my yard and this year was not too productive for us (probably too much rain during pollination). It would be fun to try other fruits too.

Also, I'be been throwing together different shochu sour drinks (no recipe, just going by taste), but I would love to know if anyone has a good recipe for shochu sour made with umeboshi?

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I posted an early incarnation of my recipe on the first page of this topic, but I've since revised my recipe to use just 1/4 cup of the matcha latte mix (available on YuzuMura.com), which would be roughly similar to one tablespoon of matcha and 2 tablespoons sugar (the very fine sugar we use is easier to dissolve than most granulated sugar). I shake up the matcha-blended gin once a day or so for about 7 days and keep it cold.

I think I want to make karinshu again this year... and maybe something with mikan.

I am really enjoying reading this thread.  I'm not the only one who makes umeshu and lycheeshu!  Once you make your own umeshu, it's very, very hard to go back to the commercial stuff.  I also find it interesting that other people use brandy and gin for making other types of  drinks.  So far I've made umeshu, lycheeshu, and berry infused brandy (gorgeous taste and appearance).  I've tried making my umeshu and lycheeshu with bothy sake and shochu and I prefer sake to shochu for the base. 

Can you please tell me how you make your gin infused with matcha?  I like gin (I'm a gin and tonic type) and no doubt I would enjoy this too. 

I have two ume trees in my yard and this year was not too productive for us (probably too much rain during pollination).  It would be fun to try other fruits too.

Also, I'be been throwing together different shochu sour drinks (no recipe, just going by taste), but I would love to know if anyone has a good recipe for shochu sour made with umeboshi?

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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I had assumed that umeshu was made with "white liquor" (basically the same as kou-rui shochu with a high proof of up to 35).  My mother used to use "white liquor" anyway.  Only today did I learn that an increasing number of people now use other alcoholic beverages like otsu-rui shochu and nihonshu (sake).  They say that such beverages make better umeshu.  I also learned that the local brewery, Aoki Shuzo, here in Shiozawa makes umeshu using its specially-brewed sake.  I'm very interested in it, and may actually buy one bottle...

I bought one 1.8-liter bottle (2,625 yen)! It was supposed to be a gift for my wife, but I tasted it too.

Mild, smooth, and not too sweet!

I don't think I can ever go back to choya! :biggrin:

gallery_16375_5_56772.jpg

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I had assumed that umeshu was made with "white liquor" (basically the same as kou-rui shochu with a high proof of up to 35).  My mother used to use "white liquor" anyway.  Only today did I learn that an increasing number of people now use other alcoholic beverages like otsu-rui shochu and nihonshu (sake).  They say that such beverages make better umeshu.  I also learned that the local brewery, Aoki Shuzo, here in Shiozawa makes umeshu using its specially-brewed sake.  I'm very interested in it, and may actually buy one bottle...

Interesting. I find "white liquor" to have strong funky flavours, so I usually use a smooth vodka instead. But sake?

I've always assumed that umeshu (or any kind of fruit liqueur) requires a spirit with a high alcohol content. As in hard liquor. Isn't that necessary to prevent the ume from going off while steeping, and to ensure that the finished product will have a long shelf life?

How long does umeshu made with sake keep? Does it require refrigeration? Will the flavours develop as it ages, like regular umeshu?

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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I had assumed that umeshu was made with "white liquor" (basically the same as kou-rui shochu with a high proof of up to 35).  My mother used to use "white liquor" anyway.  Only today did I learn that an increasing number of people now use other alcoholic beverages like otsu-rui shochu and nihonshu (sake).  They say that such beverages make better umeshu.  I also learned that the local brewery, Aoki Shuzo, here in Shiozawa makes umeshu using its specially-brewed sake.  I'm very interested in it, and may actually buy one bottle...

Interesting. I find "white liquor" to have strong funky flavours, so I usually use a smooth vodka instead. But sake?

I've always assumed that umeshu (or any kind of fruit liqueur) requires a spirit with a high alcohol content. As in hard liquor. Isn't that necessary to prevent the ume from going off while steeping, and to ensure that the finished product will have a long shelf life?

How long does umeshu made with sake keep? Does it require refrigeration? Will the flavours develop as it ages, like regular umeshu?

Good question again, smallworld!

Under Japan's Liquor Tax Law, it is illegal for an individual to make a fruit liqueur with a spirit with a proof less than 20. Sake breweries make umeshu using their genshu (raw sake), which is probably higher than regular sake in alcohol content.

Thank you for asking me about the shelf life. I checked at the label of my umeshu bottle, and found it requires refrigeration after it's opened! A 1.8-liter bottle can never fit in my fridge, but I think my wife can consume it quickly enough. :biggrin:

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