Sake Gumi

In August, I found these cute mini pears at the Green Market. I think they are called pickle pears. What do you do with "pickle" pears? Pickle them, right? Instead, I remembered Yoko's post on homemade umeshu (plum wine), and decided to make homemade pear liqueur.


The last time I was at Mitsuwa, they had a pre-packaged homemade umeshu set (a jar, plums, white liqueur and rock sugar). Since I was taking a bus, I didn't want to have to carry it. We have a convenient Japanese grocery store Dainobu nearby my work, and I remembered them selling Kori sato (direct translation = ice cube sugar). I used to suck on them just like candy, and they are widely used when making homemade liqueur. They are simply sugar in rock form.

Typical jar for homemade liqueur is a glass with a plastic red jar. I went to The Container Store, and found a large glass jar, which worked perfectly. An air tight seal is the key to avoid any germs from growing inside (however, I bet the high alcohol contents will prevent this from going bad anyways).

Making this is very easy.

What you need:

- About 2lbs. of pickle pear
- 2 bags of rock sugar
- Magnum bottle of vodka (Don't buy the premium. Even if you have it, save it for regular drinks, and get the cheapy kind instead for this).

Rock sugar:


That's it. In Japan, you can buy white liquor (which is basically flavorless alcohol to use for making liqueurs), but you can totally substitute with vodka.



Wash pears, and get rid of the stems. I cut them in half for no particular reason, thinking it would give it a stronger flavor. Dry and dump the pears into the jar, add sugar, vodka, and keep in cool dark place for six months.


After six months, take the fruits out (I bet these will make a killer pear tart or cake). You can drink at this point, but I heard waiting a year makes a milder liqueur.

It's now mid-November, and this is how it looks. The amber color is pretty mouth-watering, isn't it?


As a teaser, I cut up some persimmons and added to the liqueur. Apparently this is how some of the most expensive kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto serves dessert in the fall. Unfortunately, $1.39 persimmons weren't ripe enough. Have you had unripen persimmons before? They were so shibui (the English language doesn't really have the word that describes persimmon's "shibui"-ness: not edible, too bitter, too tart, but not quite these words). You'll know when you encounter a shibui persimmon.

Anyhow, the liqueur itself is pretty good. Definitely on the sweet side due to rock sugar plus sweetness from the fruit.

*Yamahomo enjoys cooking and baking. He prefers staying in kitchen all weekend long rather than being outside.
Column: ReCPY


  • Looks delish. But are you sure you didn't misread the pear sign? I think those are seckel pears. (But I could be wrong…)

    cjones on

  • I still have to blog about the result of my umeshu and biwashu, which both turned out very, very rich and delicious. The amber-red color is amazing! I would die to try a baked good you make from this.

    yoko on

  • I know what you're talking about!! There is a word in Korean also to describe the unplesant-ness of persimmons that are not yet ripe.

    I loooove persimmons when they get nice and soft!

    Ambitious on

  • It's not my mistake. The sign clearly said "pickle pears" at green market. Scuse me, I don't spell 'sweets' as 'sweats', or 'waste of time' as 'waist of time' or say, 'turn light and walk two more blocks'. sank you so much!

    Yamahomo on

  • OMG CJONES i just peeed my pants. i'm gonna keep it as is, just cause it is SO HILARIOUS and the biggest UM fail ever.

    no one should ever call UM a foodie site!! HAHA.

    kayoko on

  • shibui = astringent

    Same thing you get from tea or grape skins or wine… though on a much gentler scale than with persimmons.

    pheel on

  • I have never seen this done with western pears. I am getting ready to make some of this with Japanese (which is really Chinese) quince.

    Michael [KyotoFoodie] on

  • If I may make a quick point about the vodka used for infusions—while you don't need to buy an expensive vodka (actually you should never pay more than $30 for a bottle of vodka regardless of what you're using it for), vodkas distilled from potatoes absorb the flavor of the infusions better than others, primarily b/c of its higher starch content. Just something to keep in mind.

    Can't wait to see how this turns out!

    Paystyle on

  • The whole "pickle pear" drama, whoever it was that started it (shame on you, Green Market!), is just hilarious. love you, Yama.

    kayoko on

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