Alcohol Didn’t Fix the Mold

I pulled out the plums from the batch that I tried to “cure” with alcohol, called 3rd 2. It was soaked in weak sake that had been diluted a bit, and then salted, and it was way too hard. The alcohol killed off too much of the plum, and left it unable to ripen.

I’m going to set it outside, and see if that fixes it. The sunlight might cause it to ripen.

Small bits of mold are still on the plums, so I consider the batch “ruined”, and hopeless.

I took the softest plum, and took it apart, and tasted the flesh around the bit. I tasted just a slight hint of alcohol, and the strong flavor of ripening fruit. So maybe there is some potential to correct it.

The outer skin was firm, almost tough.

The spotty black mold is tough. It ruined much of the first batch, and even a bleach+water solution didn’t seem to remove it. Maybe it killed it, but the black dots were still on there. Avoid it by sanitizing everything.

The white/blue bread mold, however, seems to be easier to wash off.

Maesil-Cheong progress

I saw a post that showed someone putting a hole into the fruit, using a toothpick. So I figured I’d try that, as well. Maybe the insides would leak out.

The syrup tastes good!

My mix is brown sugar, rather than white sugar. So, it tastes like brown sugar, molasses, and fruit.

Other than that, I’ve been busy, and unable to keep working on the other parts of the project. I’ll get to them.

Prunus Mume, lost in translation

All over the web, there are people asking what to do with umeboshi, or the green fruit, prunus mume, aka, ume, aka Japanese plum, aka xi muoi, aka, maesil, aka Korean green plum, aka muoi, aka mume.

Here in the San Gabriel Valley, nearly everyone eats something connected to this plant.

Mexicans use chamoy sauce, which has a name almost identical to xi muoi. History says it’s the same thing. They also eat saladitos, dried salted plum, which is the same thing.

East Asians and Southeast Asians drink plum wine. That’s wine infused with the flavor of this plum.

Hawaiians talk about Li Hing Muoi (a Chinese name) or Crack Seed. It’s the soft, sweet version of saladitos, which is muoi.

Japanese eat umeboshi, which has become a huge fad food.

Koreans, I’ve just read, do all kinds of things with it, making beverages, sweet preserves,

Drink for the day: salted lemonade + beer + Tajin chamoy

A lot of the lemonade, made from mashed preserved lemons (preserved in salt), Micheloeb ultra, and a few squirts of Tajin chamoy lite.

Record of Plums

BatchPrep, Pressing VesselStorage
1stWash, bag in enamel pot. Molded.
2ndWash, plastic bowl. Several ume molded, but overall OK.Large jar.
3rd 1Wash, remove stems, plastic dish pan. Several ume molded.Smaller open mouth vase.
3rd 2Molded ones cleaned off, and re-pressed with some diluted sake and salt.Drying
4th 1Broken/fallen fruit. Washed, cut, soaked in sake to arrest spoilage. Packed in brown sugar. Pickle jar.Pickle jar.
4th 2Same prep. Smaller ginger bottle.Ginger bottle.
5thSmall batch, cleaned, washed. Salted and pressed in Tupperware. Low on vinegar, had to add salt and water to cover fruit.2 Kimchi bottles.
Ume for eating (Note that this table is updated across the site.)

Fallen FruitRipe fruit dropped into bucket of water. Starting around May 9.Soaking
Moldy 1Moldy salted, but cleaned off after bleach. Starting May 12.Soaking
Moldy 2Moldy salted, but didn’t fully clean off after bleach. Starting May 12.Soaking
Ume for seeds (Note that this table is updated across the site.)

Umeboshi and Maesil Rot

I opened up the two pressing vessels and repacked them into jars. One was seven days old, and the other was six days old.

They both had some moldy plums, so I pulled the moldy ones.

The mold problem wasn’t that serious. It was very little bread mold, and small spots of black mold. So, I tried to wash off the black mold. The ones that released their mold got put into a tumbler:

I added to this, layers of salt, and then filled it halfway with some of the sugar and sake mixture, and swirled it around. I figured the alcohol would keep the mold down.

Then, I put a pint glass full of water on top to press it down and expel more juice (aka vinegar). (I didn’t use any of the juice for this batch.)

The plums that were good were put into big jars, salt added (because @koreatownclass said it looked like it wasn’t salted enough) topped off with the vinegar (by which I mean juice), and then weighted down with water filled-jars, and the big jars gently shaken on a soft surface, to get the fruit to settle. After a couple hours, the fruit was completely submerged.

I wish I had pictures, but I forgot to take them.

Small Batch Redo

I was concerned that the small batch I made wasn’t salted enough, and might be moldy, so I dumped the plums and juice out into a big plastic bowl, and inspected.

Fortunately, it wasn’t moldy, but 2/3 of the fruit was hard, and didn’t appear to be salted enough.

My salting technique has been to sprinkle salt on damp ume, but I thought that wasn’t working, because I’m using coarse grained salt. So I added regular salt, and mixed it with my hands, to coat everything.

Then I repacked it, into the same green tupperware, with the hard fruit on the bottom and soft fruit on the top. I figured, that the hard fruit would be under more pressure, with more salt, and more juice surrounding it.

The jar went back on top, and was taped down.


I tasted the sweet maesil liquid, and it tasted like chamoy, without the chiles.

This has to be the origin of chamoy. I recently saw a video from Mexico showing how to make chamoy from umeboshi, but I’m pretty certain this sugar preserve is the actual origin of chamoy, because I’ve had chamoy candy from small markets (not the tamarindo pulp, but little sugared balls), and it’s the same flavor.

Also, the brown sugar tastes delicious.

I added more sugar to the big jar, and weighed it down with a pint glass of water, until the fruit was completely submerged under the liquid.

For reference, this medium/small sized jar of Vlasic pickles, and the generic pint glass, fit together perfectly for this.

The jar will hold around 20 fruit.

I don’t even need to move the fruit from the pressing crock to the storage.

For the rescue ume, I used a large Arcoroc tumbler, and a pint glass. It works okay, but I don’t think this combination is as good.

I had a coffee jar with some of the maesil in there, but repacked it into a smaller plastic jar, so that it would be “taller”, and packed more sugar on top.

In this taller jar, the liquid submerged more of the fruit.

Korean-ish Michelada Time

I had a can of Micheloeb Ultra, so, I used it to rinse out the sugar from the coffee jar.

I poured it into a pint glass, and then sprinkled some Korean chile on top. Then I finished it off with a squirt of lemon juice.

The chili was Wang Red Pepper Powder (Coarse). It’s not that spicy. 5000-10000 on the Scoville scale. It’s more bitter and smoky than hot, and tasted good with the bitter beer.

I stirred it up, and it was delicious. It was fruity, sweet, sour, dry, and bitter. It wasn’t salty like a michelada, because there’s no Clamato in there.

(I looked up if someone else had done this. Kenji Lopez-Alt did one, but didn’t use ume-infused sugar. His was more about chile.)

The Moldy Ones

I’m taking the fallen fruit and dropping them into a bucket of water, to allow them to ferment, so the flesh will come off easily.

The moldy fruit will be dumped into different buckets, for the same purpose.

I took the moldy fruit and let it rest overnight in water, with a little bit of bleach in it. In the afternoon, around 1/3 of the fruit was pretty clean. 2/3 was still covered with enough mold that I didn’t trust it.

I’m leaving them out for a day to finish ripening up.

Once they’re ready, they’ll go into water buckets.

As the flesh comes off, I’ll prepare them for germination, and refrigerate them.

Umeboshi Misadventures

We had a big crop of ume this year – only around 10-15 pounds, but that’s good to me. Here are the results so far.

My mom and I clashed over how to do this. She was of the “press large batches”, don’t clean too much, and salt enough school of thought.

I’m of the “remove the stem”, wash with alcohol, and “press small batches” school. I’m not Mr. Clean, but I do the bare minimum, in my opinion.

She also believes that if the ume contact stainless steel, it’ll ruin it. I didn’t see the logic in that, but there might be something to it. The stuff is acidic.

So we are a week in, and one big batch is ruined. It’s a few pounds. The two culprits: black mold, and blue mold.

Black mold around the stem.

Black mold grew around the stem.

Blue-white mold, which looks and smells like bread mold, spread in spots here and there as well.

I managed to salvage a cup of ume pulp, and have salted it to make ume paste.

Causes of Mold?

I think it’s a few different things:

  1. Not removing the stem! The way I remove them is to soak the ume for an hour or so. The stem gets soft, and can be pushed aside with a chopstick or toothpick point. See photo above.
  2. Wrapping it in a bag. My mom used a plastic bag to line an enamel pot, because the pot had chipped paint with exposed metal. I think this was a good idea, generally, to avoid the rust, but folding the bag over was a bad idea, because it didn’t allow the ume to breathe. Also, she didn’t sterilize the bag (it was a shopping bag). She just washed it out, and probably didn’t use soap. Photo is below.
  3. Not rinsing it with alcohol. She just doesn’t do it. I use vodka, or even sake, to do a rinse or soak, to sterilize the surface. I think it also arrests ripening if the ume is cut or broken.

Here’s a picture of the bag it was in. In this picture, I’m washing away some of the salt and mold, and hoping to desalinate it a bit, in preparation for removing seeds.

This is the press setup in the kitchen. Yeah, it’s out in the open. But this had no mold. These haven’t been cleaned too much, but, they also were not put into any stainless steel. So, maybe there’s something to that. However, I think the fact it can breathe helps avoid some mold. The ume surface is always drying out.

I also have another batch sandwiched between the two blue dish pans. This doesn’t breathe, but, so far, no mold. I prepared this batch by cleaning it off, removing the stems, but did not rinse it with vodka.

I am NOT recommending the dishpans. I don’t think it’s a good way to press, because the pressure is spread out too much. I actually like this, so far:

This is a jar of water, pushing on a plastic lid, that’s pushing down onto a batch of ume in a tupperware. The painters tape is to hold the jar in place.

My prior attempts at umeboshi were done in similar, jar-like arrangements.

Here’s another, tiny batch, in a pint glass, with a narrower plastic cup pressing down on the five ume.

This one is a little weird, because most of these have been infusing a jar of vodka and sake for several months. In the past, they formed some mold, and I wanted to try and fix them.

The alcohol treatment worked, but maybe too well. The plums stopped ripening. Some were hard, and some were soft. So I put them into the glass, salted them, and pressed them under a glass of water. Some of the liquid came out.

Basically, these ume are dead. They’re sterile.

With the help of @koreatownclass, I was taught how to make sugar-preserved ume. These are rescued ume. I took fallen fruit, which cannot be used for umeboshi, and the more damaged looking fruit, cleaned off the nastiest parts, and soaked them in sake. Again, the alcohol seemed to arrest the ripening.

I thought it would taste good with sugar, so I added a lot of brown sugar.

@koreatownclass told me to remove them from the alcohol, pack with sugar equal to the weight of the ume.

I removed the alcohol, for the most part (I didn’t rinse them off, and re-used the jar).

The first batch after 1.5 days:

The fruit was ripening, and packing down, and dissolving the sugar. I don’t think I added enough sugar. It smelled both good and funky, but I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

I added more ume, and more sugar.

I also started a small batch from the rest of the sake-cleaned fruit. (I also washed and removed stems!)

This will require more sugar.

The infused sake was sweet and alcoholic, and tasted a lot like tamarindo. I had to dilute it and add ice, and a little lemon. It’s really tasty.

These sugar-preserved ume are sitting on the counter. They will ferment at room temperature, and be ready in three months, I have been told.

The bad ume are going to be salvaged in this way:

I’ve soaked and rinsed away the salt that I could. Some (that weren’t too moldy, and partially ripe) were salvaged to make an experimental ume paste of semi-ripe ume and salt. I used about 3% to 4% salt. I figure this will eventually ripen and become edible. Or it’ll grow horrible mold and be inedible.

The rest were kept in the bag and put into a plastic bucket, and I added a little splash of bleach.

I figure that the salt will continue to leach out, and then the bleach will kill the surface mold. I’ll drain it off after a day, and maybe I can wash the fruit off, and set it out to ripen. Once it’s ripe, I’ll dump them into a bucket of water, to ferment.

Once it’s fermented, I can rub the fruit off and recover the stone. I’m going to then try and grow the stone into a tree.

Likewise, some fruit is still dropping from the tree. This fruit is being tossed into a bucket of water, in the sun, to ferment. Once I recover those stones, I’ll try to grow them as well.

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