My host mother in Japan used to keep a jar under the sink. It was full of viscous liquid and little green balls, so I never touched it. Who knows what could have developed under that sink.
One night at dinner, she hauled the jar out from under the sink, and unloaded it into ice-filled glasses for my friends and I.
So I, who will try anything, ventured a sip.
Lord, was it delicious. A tiny bit sour, syrupy, tangy, and alcohol...y
It was homemade Umeshu, a liqueur made from Japanese sour plums (they're kinda like crab apples), rock sugar (kouri-zatou 氷砂糖, or ice sugar in Japanese), and shochu (Japanese vodka).
I was wandering the Sakura Square Japanese market in downtown Denver, when, lo and behold! I found Japanese sour plums sitting neatly on the produce shelf.
These are so hard to find fresh in the US, and of course the first thing that happened when I saw them was that I drooled a little thinking of the Umeshu my host mom gave me. I immediately bought them.
I ventured to make my own, just using 200g rock sugar, about 2.3 cups small Japanese plums, and 750mL shochu. This shochu made with sweet potatoes and rice, I like that flavor best. I would have made more, but there were not many plums left when I found them.
I layered the plums and sugar, poured on the shochu.
Now we sit. And wait. About a year. What a great test of patience.