Another bonus besides strawberries being easier to find and cheaper here: this drink is ready to drink in 2 weeks! Of course, I like to let it to sit and mature, but the freshly made ichigoshu is such a pretty color, a bright red. As it ages, it will turn a beautiful deep orange. In the above picture, I mixed it with sparkling water so the diluted color is a pretty soft orange.
If you can't get a hold of shochu, vodka or brandy will also work. And remember, just like umeshu, just because it can be roughly translated as "strawberry wine" doesn't mean that ichigoshu has a low alcohol percentage! It is actually more of a cordial or infused liqueur.
|I love strawberries in the spring and early summer!|
If you can't find kouri zatou, you can use regular granulated sugar. Kouri zatou is nice because it dissolves slowly.
2.2lbs of strawberries (a.k.a. 1 kg)
3/4 cup of kouri zatou (roughly 200g)
1.7 liters of shochu or two 750ml bottles
To prepare the strawberries:
Gently wash the strawberries making sure not too be too rough. Remove the calyx (green part) from each of the strawberries by using a strawberry huller, paring knife, or whatever your preferred method.
To make ichigoshu: Clean out the container with boiling water, then dry thoroughly. First place the kouri zatou on the bottom, top with the prepared strawberries, then slowly pour the shochu in, making sure that it is enough to completely submerge the rock sugar and strawberries. The amount of shochu doesn't need to be exact.
The strawberries will discolor very fast and float to the top. The sugar will all settle to the bottom, where it will dissolve slowly. Every week or so, gently swirl the container a bit to distribute the dissolved sugar. After about 2 months, the strawberries will have exuded all the juice that they are going to and they will turn completely white, so you can take them out if you want, or feel free to keep them in. I like to remove them and strain the ichigoshu with coffee filters or multiple layers of cheesecloth into smaller bottles to continue aging (takes up less space!). The straining is important, because the strawberries will shed their little fuzzies into the alcohol.
Strawberry Shiso Citrus Water