One of my unpardonable acts of juvenile misdemeanour was committed on a sultry summer day just like this. I believe I was only ten at the time.
My mother kept a jar of plum liqueur on the counter top of her kitchen, from which she would ladle out a dram at a time of the pick-me-up on summer evenings. The sweet scent of the amber liquid held in my mother’s hand always infatuated me, so much so that I pestered her most determinedly until she succumbed to my request for a taste. The powerful punch of the unripened ume-plums was euphoric; I never was a child who was happy with pop soda.
And that was the prelude to how, one day in a deserted kitchen, I found myself perched on top of the counter ever so casually, a bulging cheek the only giveaway to my wrongdoing. Choosing the soused plum instead of downing the liqueur itself was my way of respecting decency. Nonetheless, the sweet, crisp plum which oozed out nectar kept me in a state of rapture for a very long time.
Now that I am fully grown with a family of my own, I revel in stockpiling plum liqueur each year, enjoying an occasional shot of the matured liqueur just as my mother did. However, she and I clearly differ in one respect.
Unlike my mother who never doubted that a concoction of additives was a treat for children, I make darn sure that my son gets to indulge in a real kind of ambrosia, namely ume-plum cordial, and a whole lot more.
Plum Cordial Recipe
1kg Japanese ume-plums
1kg sugar (any type of one’s liking)
1. Sterilize and dry a 5L jar. I usually dry the jar out in the sun for several hours after thorough washing, and then to make doubly sure, rinse the inside using half a cup of cooking liquor with an alcohol content of 35% that is commonly available in the supermarkets.
2. Wash and dry the plums well.
3. Remove the caps from the plums using a wooden pick with care. Try not to damage the fruit as this will likely cause molding.
4. Place the plums and sugar in alternate layers in the jar. Make sure that the top is covered with a layer of sugar.
5. Place a lid and store in a cool dry place. Wait for roughly ten days for the juice to be extracted. The end result should be a brownish (the darkness will depend on the type of sugar used) syrup.
6. Discard the shrivelled plums with a sterilized utensil.
7. Store the syrup, preferably in a fridge.
8. Use roughly 2 tablespoons of the syrup to make a cup of cordial.
Some recipe sites recommend the plums be frozen prior to storage, in order to speed up the extraction process. NEVER DO THAT. You will end up with an insipid cordial that you’d wish you had never bothered to make.