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)

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  1. maesil-lover-123 California joined 8/23 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, thank you so much for sharing your recipe with us!

    We bought some maesil to make maesil cheong last year, and it turned out so good that we ended up making three jars of it this year to share with family and friends!

    One jar came out crystal clear and the other two was cloudy, but all three tasted delicious.

    Do you know if the cloudy ones are safe? We had to remove a little bit of mold from one of the cloudy jars during the 2nd week, but there wasn’t any mold after that.

    Just want to be sure so we don’t get anyone sick! Thank you!

    See full size image

  2. TorontoFan Toronto joined 7/23 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! I’ve been using your recipe to make plum wine for the last 3 years and they’ve been WONDERFUL! However, this year my syrup started to develop tiny floaty white mould! *gasp*
    Can I still salvage it or it’s down the drain???

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 564 comments

      “my syrup started to develop tiny floaty white mould.”
      It happens when there’s not enough sugar. Don’t worry too much; you can just remove the mold and still use the syrup. But next time, make sure to use enough sugar to prevent mold from forming again. Good luck!

  3. Nycgarden119 NYC joined 6/23 & has 1 comment

    Hi maangchi. We have a few plum trees in our community garden in nyc. But many of the plums on one tree has a small worm inside. If we cut out the bad parts of the plums can we still make Maesil extract?

  4. Jojo Chau New York joined 8/22 & has 1 comment

    Hello Maangchi!

    The other day I found some green plums and decided to make some maesil cheong with brown sugar. However, after 2 weeks I saw that it started to get fizzy with carbonation and lots of bubbles on top. I was wondering if it’s still edible and if I did something wrong. Please advise me. Thank you! <3

  5. MarikaS New Zealand joined 1/18 & has 1 comment

    I used unripe regular plums to make umeshu and it worked well. We have a damsom plum tree so this year before they change colour I’ll pick them for maesil and umeshu. They’re horrible little sour things so I’m glad I can use them and I use a ton of maesil in cooking so it will save me some money, it’s so expensive in New Zealand

  6. YOB United States joined 6/22 & has 1 comment

    I have 16 damson plum trees. Do you think these plums would work for maesil? They are a purple/blue color with a yellow inside. I have hundreds of pounds of plums every year and I love plum extract. I bought some at hmart to try and it’s great for maesil-cha.

  7. cordelbilly Naperville, IL joined 11/21 & has 4 comments

    This was super easy. The wait seemed like forever but a good lesson in patience. I made all 3. As delicious as I expected. Question though, The Maesil-cha I had in Korea was much darker. Is it aged longer, use brown sugar, some other thing? Thanks for your great recipes and entertaining delivery.

    See full size image

  8. Tserviss Arkansas joined 9/21 & has 2 comments

    I just finished 100 days for my maesil cheong. I had 10 pounds divided between 6 half gallon jars. Three of the jars were slightly carbonated, one was just okay and the last one seemed to be about perfect. I was wondering if the carbonated ones could still be used for cooking.

    Thank you for all your lovely recipes.

  9. Candy87 South Lake Tahoe joined 12/13 & has 6 comments

    So I tried out this recipe and I’m almost to my 100 days!!!!
    The lid I used leaked too.
    A lot of sugar settled at the bottom of my jar. And I open it to stir the bottom? Or will that interrupt the process?

    See full size image

  10. jingsk Boston, MA joined 3/20 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, I got some plums from H-mart today in Boston so today is the start of the project. The plums I got don’t look as plump and green as yours but I am optimistic! Check out the snow globe:

    See full size image

  11. PandoraHeartz Netherlands joined 8/19 & has 1 comment

    Started today with this recipe, wish me luck! I’m really excited how it will turn out. Is it possible to use this recipe with other fruits too?

  12. dustbunny55 South joined 2/18 & has 4 comments

    Hi Maangchi!

    I tried the syrup using unripe blood plums (Australian) and I think it worked! I did 2 separate jars, and it’s almost been 100 days. But while one jar looks perfect, the other has grown mould on top :(
    Do you have any idea why this may have happened?
    I have a cpl of ideas:
    1. The lid leaked and I lost quite a bit of syrup so I added more sugar (after a cpl of weeks I think?)
    2. The jar was a funny shape and so it was hard to make sure the Plums were completely covered in sugar all the time, and was hard to shake it regularly and properly due to the leaky lid.

    Would love to hear your thoughts! And can’t wait to try the other jar that isn’t mouldy

    Thank you Maangchi!

  13. Twisteddart Texas joined 1/19 & has 1 comment

    How long can it be stored in the fridge? Is there a expiration date?

  14. dustbunny55 South joined 2/18 & has 4 comments

    can i use green unripe blood plums to make this?

  15. eduardocarrara Brazil joined 11/14 & has 1 comment

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

    See full size image

  16. yoyodong Hongkong joined 9/16 & has 2 comments

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

  17. janbroni Los Angeles joined 9/16 & has 2 comments

    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!

  18. Jenne San Diego joined 6/12 & has 3 comments

    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…

  19. Dan Seattle, Washington, US joined 2/11 & has 10 comments

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

  20. SergioD Madrid, Spain joined 11/10 & has 12 comments

    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?

  21. DesDes Canada joined 5/16 & has 1 comment

    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.

  22. MichelleKim California joined 11/12 & has 2 comments

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

  23. Dan Seattle, Washington, US joined 2/11 & has 10 comments

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

  24. wesley_188 Singapore joined 5/16 & has 1 comment

    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! :)

  25. catskann64 pennsylvania joined 8/11 & has 4 comments

    I will! Thank you!

  26. MajeedHasen Saudi Arabia joined 5/16 & has 1 comment

    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) ?

  27. catskann64 pennsylvania joined 8/11 & has 4 comments

    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 & has 12,045 comments

      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 & has 2 comments

      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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