Maesil extract

Maesil-cheong 매실청

Maesil extract (Maesil-cheong) is used widely in traditional Korean cuisine as a sweetener. It’s made from maesil (aka green plums) and makes many dishes much more delicious than if you just used sugar. The result is more flavorful, fragrant, fresh, and complex. Maesil is also known to be really good for you, and Koreans believe preparing food and tea with maesil has many health benefits.

Peak season for maesil is May and June, and grocery stores in Korea are full of beautiful, fresh maesil and large jars to make maesil-cheong in. Here in the USA, Korean grocery stores also sell maesil at this time of year, although they are a lot more expensive here.


After making maesil-cheong, you can use the leftover maesil to make a traditional Korean alcohol called maesilju. And then once that’s done, you can use the leftovers to make a boozy pickle called maesil-jangajji. So with one box of maesil you can make three things. Me and my friends used to start making maesil-cheong in May-June, which means we could share maesilju with friends and family at Christmastime. Making maesil-cheong was one of our annual projects and we were always excited when the maesil-cheong was ready and it was only a few months more until we got the booze. The pickled maesil contains alcohol, so you should eat small amount and of course no children should eat it.

You may be wondering if you can make maesilju (maesil liquor) and maesil-jangajji (maesil pickles) directly from fresh maesil. Yes you can! Put fresh maesil in a jar and fill it up with soju and keep it in a cool place in your house for 1 year, then you will get nice flavorful unsweet maesilju.




Prepare maesil

  1. Remove all the stem ends from the maesil, and throw out any that are brown or blemished.
  2. Wash and dry well. Save half a cup of sugar for later, and mix the rest with the maesil, in a bowl. Add to a 7 cup glass jar.maesilcheong (매실청)
  3. Let sit for 6 days, and then mix it well by turning it upside down a few times. Let it sit in a cool dry place for 94 days more, for a grand total of 100 days since you started. 
    maesilcheong (매실청)maesilcheong (매실청)

100 days later

  1. Separate the maesil from the extract using a strainer. Put the extract in a jar and store it in the fridge.maesilcheong (매실청)

Make maesilju (Maesil liquor)

  1. Put the leftover maesil in a jar with 4 bottles of soju. Let it sit for 3 months.maesilju

3 months later

  1. Separate the maesil from the maesilju using a strainer. Put the maesilju in a jar and store it in the fridge.maesilju (매실주)

Make maesil-jangajji (Maesil pickles)

  1. Pit the leftover maesil and cut up the remainder into small pieces.maesil-jangajji (매실 장아찌)
  2. Add ½ cup gochujang and mix well. Store in the fridge and serve as a side dish with rice.maesil-jangajji (매실장아찌)



  1. eduardocarrara Brazil joined 11/14
    Posted September 27th, 2017 at 5:47 pm | # |

    Just started my maesil-cheong today! can’t wait for it to be ready!

    See full size image

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted October 19th, 2017 at 10:02 pm | # |

      Wow it looks good! I’m sure the sugar is melted by now, and your maesil are soaking in a sweet solution!

  2. yoyodong Hongkong joined 9/16
    Posted September 29th, 2016 at 5:30 am | # |

    After i have made the Maesil-cheong, can i put vinegar into leftover maesil and make maesil vinegar? How can i make it?

  3. janbroni Los Angeles joined 9/16
    Posted September 20th, 2016 at 8:43 pm | # |

    Hey Maangchi,
    Do I need to open the container the Maesil is fermenting in for 100 day and the Maesil-ju? Or do I just leave the container while checking it and flipping it once in a while…? Thanks!

    • janbroni Los Angeles joined 9/16
      Posted September 22nd, 2016 at 7:03 pm | # |

      Nevermind! I missed the annotation that said “Leave lid open to let gas leak out” xD

  4. Jenne San Diego joined 6/12
    Posted July 2nd, 2016 at 1:32 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi, i started my maesil cheong a few weeks ago and it seems to be fermenting and getting fizzy. Is that ok? It seems like it will turn into alcohol if I let it keep going like this…

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted July 7th, 2016 at 9:13 am | # |

      Does it smell like alcohol? If not, it’s ok. If so, maybe you didn’t add enough sugar.

      • Jenne San Diego joined 6/12
        Posted July 9th, 2016 at 11:31 am | # |

        Yeah, I think it does smell like alcohol. Should I throw it out, or will it turn into plum wine??

        • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
          Posted May 16th, 2017 at 12:53 pm | # |

          I would add some soju and make maesilju!

          • Jenne San Diego joined 6/12
            Posted May 16th, 2017 at 6:35 pm | # |

            It actually turned out ok, and once I took out the syrup after 100 days I made the maesilju! It’s really delicious.
            In fact, today I am taking some over to enter it in the San Diego County Fair! Wish me luck! :)

      • Jps3397 joined 7/15
        Posted May 15th, 2017 at 4:40 pm | # |

        Hi Maangchi, unfortunately mine smells like alcohol too! I think maybe there wasn’t enough sugar? I feel so bad throwing it out. Is there any way to save it? :*(

  5. Dan Seattle, Washington, US joined 2/11
    Posted June 29th, 2016 at 1:40 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi. Do you know if you can make this recipe using new apples before they get too big?

    • Kagari Canada joined 1/17
      Posted January 11th, 2017 at 3:25 am | # |

      If you want to try this with apples you should try crabapples or hard unripe apples anything else would turn to mush.

  6. SergioD Madrid, Spain joined 11/10
    Posted May 28th, 2016 at 6:10 am | # |

    Hi, Maangchi. Thanks for sharing all these fermentation recipes and projects with us, I find them really interesting. This week, I’m planning to visit Koreatown in London to see if I find these maesil. Has anyone finde them in the UK so far?

  7. DesDes Canada joined 5/16
    Posted May 14th, 2016 at 7:47 pm | # |

    Hi! I just started a batch with some maesil from the local farmer’s market. I had seen it there for while, and always wondered what to do with it so thank you for posting this video! I used a lid with a fermentation airlock (so gasses can get out but not in), as I had one already so I hope that will work.

    Question: What do you do with the leftover blemished fruit? I have about five little leftovers.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted May 17th, 2016 at 4:05 am | # |

      You are making maesil extract! That’s great! “What do you do with the leftover blemished fruit?” I throw them away.

  8. MichelleKim California joined 11/12
    Posted May 11th, 2016 at 1:28 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi, I’m excited to try this! Can I use brown sugar instead of white sugar?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted May 17th, 2016 at 4:06 am | # |

      Yes, some people use brown sugar. It will work well, too.

  9. Dan Seattle, Washington, US joined 2/11
    Posted May 9th, 2016 at 8:20 pm | # |

    Maangchi, do the jangajji ferment at room temperature for the week?

  10. wesley_188 Singapore joined 5/16
    Posted May 9th, 2016 at 2:53 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi! Can I ask if you can make fruit tea syrup just like how you did for maesil-cheong? I thought of replacing maesil with lemons and berries. Thank you! :)

  11. catskann64 pennsylvania joined 8/11
    Posted May 8th, 2016 at 6:05 pm | # |

    I will! Thank you!

  12. MajeedHasen Saudi Arabia joined 5/16
    Posted May 8th, 2016 at 12:50 pm | # |

    Hi, I have two questions:
    1) Can I use ripened/red apricot instead of green ? *the only kind available in my country :)*
    2) is the syrup alcoholic (Aka can my children drink from it) ?

  13. catskann64 pennsylvania joined 8/11
    Posted May 8th, 2016 at 12:20 am | # |

    Hi, Maangchi! If it’s ok to ask this, do you think I can sub out white sugar for agave syrup? I’m diabetic, and agave syrup had a low glycemic impact. I really want to make these green plum recipes!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted May 8th, 2016 at 12:23 pm | # |

      I can’t give you a good answer because I have never used agave syrup in my maesilcheong. But if I were you, I would try it out. Just in case, keep it in the fridge all the time. Let me know how it turns out.

    • Kagari Canada joined 1/17
      Posted January 11th, 2017 at 3:22 am | # |

      The goal of the sugar is to extract the liquid from the plum by osmosis and then pickling the plum in the syrup made of its own juices. Therefore no agave syrup cannot be used since it does not have the osmotic properties of sugar or salt. Sorry some things just need sugar.

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