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Adding the maesil and sugar to the jar in portions

How to make maesil-cheong (Fermented Korean green plum syrup)

A super easy project, maesil (or ume) syrup is a great first project if you've never fermented anything before!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 90 d
Course Drinks, Snack
Cuisine Japanese, korean


  • 1 2 litre Glass jar (Sterilised)
  • 1 Toothpick
  • 1 Wooden spoon


  • 1 kg maesil green plums You can also use ume from the Japanese store- it's the same fruit. Discard any moldy or spoilt plums, but bruised ones can be used.
  • 2 teaspoons Baking soda
  • 1 quart Water Plus extra for washing the fruit after soaking
  • 1 kg sugar I used xylitol, but you can substitute with honey, granulated sugar or even rock sugar. (The Japanese like to use rock sugar when making Japanese plum tea syrup.)


  • Soak the maesil in a baking soda and water solution for 15 minutes. You need a 1% solution (so 2 teaspoons of baking soda for 1 quart- 946 ml- of water.) Rinse and dry the maesil very well at the end of the 15 minutes.
  • Whilst the plums are soaking, sterilise your glass jar. First add some warm water to the jar to prepare it for the boiling water then pour the warm water out. Next, with the jar in the sink, carefully pour the boiling water into the jar then pour it out. You may need oven gloves for this as the jar will be very hot to the touch. Dry the jar thoroughly after sterilsing.
  • Prick 2-3 holes in each maesil, then add ⅓ of the sugar and ⅓ of the maesil into the jar, making sure the sugar and maesil are layered (instead of having 1 layer of maesil followed by 1 layer of sugar, or vice versa.) Repeat twice with the remaining ⅔ of maesil and sugar. You should end with a layer of sugar.
  • Seal and label the jar with today's date then store it in a dark and cool place. (I used the cupboard under my sink.)
  • After 7 days, use a sterilised wooden stir to mix things up, ensuring that the sugar has all dissolved. Re-seal and place back in its dark hide-out. From now till day 90, open the jar every now and then to release any gas build up. (Refer to the section above the recipe card for signs that your maesil ferment is going well.)
  • After 3 months (or up to 3 years if you are patient!), strain and store the syrup in a sterilised jar in the fridge. Use the leftover maesil for wine, vinegar or pickles (There's a paragraph above with more information about this- I will also be doing a separate post once my maesil syrup has fermented.)
  • To reward yourself for your long wait, use your homemade Korean plum syrup extract to make yourself a nice cuppa plum tea!


Optional: Some people like to keep their maesil syrup fermenting for over a year, but I'm impatient! Next year, I may do 2 jars, one to use after 3 months and one to keep for a year.
Keyword Fermentation, Korean