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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ichigoshu (いちご酒)

Last month, I shared a recipe on how to make your own umeshu! However, I realize that unripe ume or ao-ume (青梅 literally "green/blue ume") might be hard to find in some areas. So since strawberries are in abundance here in the states, here's an easier recipe to do: Ichigoshu.

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!
All you need for this is some alcohol (preferably shochu 焼酎white distilled Japanese liquor), some sugar (preferably kouri zatou 氷砂糖 rock sugar), some strawberries, and a container to put them all in! Since it's going to be sitting for a while, make sure the container is sturdy, non-metallic, and can be closed tightly. A lot of Japanese markets will sell containers especially for this purpose around this time of year.

If you can't find kouri zatou, you can use regular granulated sugar. Kouri zatou is nice because it dissolves slowly.

Ichigoshu (いちご酒)

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.

See Also:
Strawberry Shiso Citrus Water


  1. Purely refreshing and yet another lovely idea gleaned here :D

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog! The history, your lineage and the description you have given in each post regarding the style of Japanese cooking. I spent a whole day reading your blog and must commend you on a job well done. Now getting familiar with bento boxes and mochi indeed since I come from Mumbai, India and I think it's food that unites blog readers to appreciate the styles of cooking from around the world.

    1. Thank you so much! I agree that the love of good food is something that transcends cultures.

  3. Does this process for the wine need to be refridgerated or can it be done at room temperature?

    1. It does not need to be refrigerated. Mine has been stored at room temperature for years. I think the fridge would slow down the maturation process, however, I don't see why you couldn't store it in the fridge once it's ready to consume to chill it!