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)


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  1. Tserviss Arkansas joined 9/21 & has 1 comment

    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.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 213 comments

      Wow you made a lot! Where did you get all that maesil?
      Yes, you can still use the carbonated ones for cooking. I think maybe there wasn’t enough sugar in those, that’s why when making maesil-cheong you need to add a lot of sugar.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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?

  5. 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!

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