I'm a bad cook so whenever I make ume plum compote the skins always rip. So I changed my methods a bit - and now the skins rarely rip at all, yet I could still remove the bitterness from the ume plums!
Wash the ume plums and take the stem ends off. Pierce each fruit all over with a needle, and put in a pan. Use a large pan so that the ume plums don't bump against each other if possible.
In another pan, bring a generous amount of water, enough to cover the ume plums, to a boil.
Pour the boiling water into the pan with the ume plums. Cover the pan with a blanket or similar to maintain the temperature, and leave for an hour.
After an hour has passed, make another pan ready filled with boiling water. Scoop up the ume plums very, very carefully and transfer them to the other pan. Wrap the 2nd pan up in a blanket and leave for an hour. Repeat this 5 to 6 times.
After the ume plums have been de-bittered, add the sugar to a pan evenly, and pour in 50 ml of boiling water or water that's been boiled and cooled.
Put the ume plums very carefully on top of the bed of sugar.
Heat the pan on the lowest possible heat setting. Melt the sugar, being careful not to let it burn. Simmer for about 40 minutes. The sugar crystals will disappear with time.
When the sugar has completely melted it's done! Put the ume plums in a storage container with the syrup. The sugar will have permeated the plums the next day.
Stick 3 needles like this with tape on the end of a disposable chopstick to pierce the plums quickly.
I used a generous amount of sugar so that the ume plums keep longer. Adjust the amount of sugar to your taste.
If you are using fully ripe yellow ume plums, use water that's about 80°C, not quite boiling. Ripe ume plums aren't very bitter, so you only need to repeat this process twice.
Use 2 pans. Put the ume plums in one pan so that theres space in between them as shown in the photo. When the plums have been de-bittered, bring water to a boil in the 2nd pan.
Transfer the ume plums verrry careful with a spoon. Do not let them bump against each other! After removing their bitterness, simmer in sugar. They'll still be quite tart when freshly made.
Story Behind this Recipe
I wanted to make beautiful looking kanroni (syrup preserve) or compote.
I don't have any special hints, but if the water is not boiling hot the bitterness will not come out properly. Be really, really, really careful handing the softened ume plums . I tried making these with yellow ripe ume plums, but they were even harder to handle. If they bump together even a bit, they will fall apart!