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Korean Plum Extract (Maesil)

Learn how you can use Korean plum extract in Korean cooking!

A brief information on Korean Plum Extract | MyKoreanKitchen.com

During the early days of My Korean Kitchen, I used Korean plum extract in some of my Korean cooking. These recipes are:-

Back then adding Korean plum extract was a very popular thing to do. (I think it still is. By the way, this is not a Korean traditional ingredient.) It seems that it was/is needed in pretty much any Korean dishes you can think of.

But practically speaking from your (as a reader and follower of my recipes) point of view, adding this Korean plum extract into my recipe makes my recipe not very practical. For one thing, it is not a very accessible ingredient, even to myself. So I stopped using it in my recipes when I moved to Australia.

Every now then though I still get asked about this Korean plum extract. People ask me why I’m not using it when every other Korean (in Korea) use it. Well, as I mentioned earlier, it’s not something you can get it easily from a Korean grocery store outside of Korea and I want my recipes to be practical and approachable.

That being said, it is always good to know how this Korean plum extract can be made or how else it could be used, for your future reference, right? You never know, this extract could one day dominate the aisles of the Korean grocery store. 😉

What is Korean Plum Extract

Korean plum extract (Maesil Wonaek, 매실원액) is made with Korean green plums (also known as Japanese apricot) by marinating them with honey or sugar for a few months.  Korean green plums look like as below.

Korean green plum

(Photo credit – http://www.maesil.co.kr)

While there are a number of Korean plum extract brands available, the most famous (and my favourite) one is HongSsangRi Cheong Maesil Plum Farm 홍쌍리 청매실농원 (a photo at the top of the post).

If you would like to know more about this brand, watch this video clip. I actually have been to this plum farm once before when I was still living in Korea. I lived in a neighbourhood maybe 20-30 mins driving distance from the farm.

Where to Get Korean Plum Extract

Anyway, in Korea, this plum extract can be purchased at most major supermarkets (e.g. E-mart, Homeplus or Hanaro Mart) or many online stores.

As an indicative guideline, the Korean recommended retail price of a 600ml bottle of this plum extract is 20,000 won (US $18). If you’re outside of Korea, the only place I know sell this bottle is the US Amazon store, so if you know other places that sell this product, please share it in the comment section.

If you are lucky enough to get some fresh Korean green plums where you live and are looking into making this plum extract yourself, here’s a reliable looking recipe. As I don’t think I can make it anytime soon (because I can’t get the fresh Korean green plums here) I looked it up for you. 😉

How to Use Korean Plum Extract

Typically Koreans use this plum extract in a sauce, dipping sauce or marinade sauce. It has a sweet and mildly tangy taste, so when people add this plum extract in a recipe, they reduce the vinegar and/or sugar. Some people also use it when they make soju cocktail.

Plum extract is particularly popular in a meat marinade as it is known to get rid of meat smells and oily taste and also softens the meat.

Another popular way to enjoy this plum extract is drinking it as a tea (hot or cold) by diluting it with some water. This tea is called Maesil Cha (매실차) and it is one of my favourite Korean tea. I hope you get to try this recipe as well!

Filed under: Ingredients
Tagged with: f.a.q, plum extract

Written by: Sue

Last Updated:

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Welcome to my Korean kitchen! I’m so happy that you're here. I am Sue, the creator behind My Korean Kitchen (since 2006). I love good food and simplifying recipes. Here you will find my best and family approved recipes. Thanks for stopping by!


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37 thoughts on “Korean Plum Extract (Maesil)”

  1. Can you use the spent maesil plums to make vinegar? If so, which vinegar should I use and how long should I steep the maesil for? Also after straining the vinegar do I need to refrigerate it?

    Thanks a bunch!

  2. Hi Sue,
    I am using Ocoo double boiler, which is by steaming and extracting the green plums, it is very potent. I was told to mix a teaspoon to a 1/2 gallon of water to drink for heatlh benefits. Do you know any other way to utilize steamed, extracted, potent maesil?

  3. Just wondering what is different about Korean plums and any variety of plum in a green stage 🤷‍♀️ do they Not get to a ripe stage or they are litterally green when ripe 🤔 … and what would be used to replace it in a recipe since it is sweet and tangy, I would try sugar and apple cider vinegar… but id prob be way off. 😆 🤣
    I also subbed your newsletter and do you have YouTube channel ??
    Thanks ✌😊🤳

  4. What is it taste like? Most kimchi recipe from YouTube use this plum extract, can I skip this ingredient. I never heard kimchi using plum extract while I was in Korea which is over 50 years ago.
    I’d like to read your recipes. Thank you.

    • You don’t have to use this in your kimchi. You may have to add more fruit and/or sugar to compensate sweetness if you were using the recipe that required it. 🙂

  5. I live in Los Angeles, CA and we have a pretty sizeable Koreatown area, including a place I like to visit called the Koreatown Galleria Mall off Olympic Blvd. FYI there’s free parking inside a tiered garage, and the lower level features a Korean grocery store with tons of direct from Korea products. I also go to the second level of the mall where there is a natural supplements store, Insan Healing that has all kinds of products including individual pouches of Maesil – I was looking for recipes and found this post. I hope it helps. I know insanhealing.com has products they sell and they have an Amazon official store as well.

  6. I think this post is old? I don’t live in Sydney or Melbourne but even I found the plum extract easily. In fact about the only Korean ingredient I still can’t get is the ground rice flour for baekseolgi.

    • Lucky you. But are you sure the one you see is “plum extract” not “plum syrup”? I can easily see plum syrup (a lot cheaper and more diluted than plum extract) but I still haven’t spotted real plum extract in Brisbane yet.

      • What’s the difference between syrup and extract? I thought they were used interchangeably. I bought a syrup that’s 50% maesil and 50% sugar. Is the extract any different? Thanks!

  7. Hi, just wondering if you can subtitute this with another ingredient which is easier to find. I’ve watched Korean cooking show recently and they just used a tiny bit of this ingredient in every single recipes. Thank you.

    • Substitutes for plum extract can vary depending on a dish you’re creating.
      Plum extract is sweet and tangy with runny liquid consistency.
      If it’s a small amount, you can substitute with a bit of honey or even skip it.

  8. I live in indonesia and it very hard to find this product and also amazon do not shipping to indonesia
    Please tell me where else i can buy this product online

  9. Dear Sue,
    I’ve read and watched your interesting article about plum extract in Korea way as you mentioned the fruit was also named as Japanese apricot I have apricot tree in my garden can I use it to make plum extract ?
    Can’t wait for your advise
    Thank you

  10. Although I am American by heritage, I have lived in Korea off and on since 1979. I retired here is n Songtan last year. I have a Korean friend who is retired and farms about 100 Ha of land. He has four plum trees and invited my wife,also Korean, and me to his farm. We picked about two large trash can bags of this fruit. My friend’s wife told us how to make maesil and Soju wine. We did it and now await the “fruits” of our labor in about one or two years from now.

    • How exciting that you got to pick some maesil for use! I didn’t realize that you have to wait for that long time though. Hope they turn out delicious!

  11. I didn’t know it needed to be in the refrigerator after you use it, I didn’t see in the label that I needed to be and I have it sitting on my kitchen counter for almost 2 months now😭😭 can I still use it??

    • If I were you, I would use all of my senses to test it. If it doesn’t smell, look and taste too different to when I first bought it, I will keep use it. Hope this helps. 🙂

      • Thank you! I used it once so i don’t really know how to check if it go bad, but what a relief! I found this on their website
        Q: does it need to be refrigerated?
        No, it does not. Keep it a cool, dry area (and out of sunlight). If you do choose to store it in the refrigerator, the content may crystallize, and you’ll see layers form in the bottle. To return it to its normal state, place back in room temperature.

  12. I was looking for Maesil syrup recipes & your site was one of the 1st I looked at. I live in Palm Springs, Ca. USA where my husband, our 2 sons, & I own Nature’s Health Food Mrkt & Cafe. We carry products from 123FARM in nearby Cherry Valley that grows organic Umes, makes & sells a Maesil syrup! You can reach them @ 123farm.com

  13. I just bought some, I’m so excited to start cooking with it! Should the bottle be refrigerated after opening? Thanks for your advice!

  14. We just bought the above Plum Bottle from our Korean Local store. They told us we can put a few teas spoons of this in hot water and drink it a some knd of a tea. Is it true? becuse I see comments that it is made for cooking. Can we really mixthis a Coffee additive or tea?
    Pls reply to e-mail – vicv@gingerinvestors.com

    • Hi Vic,

      Yes, the plum extract can be used for cooking but also you can drink it as a tea. But I wouldn’t add to the coffee or other tea. Just drop a tea spoons of it in hot water. It has it’s own distinctive taste.

  15. hi
    can i use this plum extract to put im my home brew to make a plum ale and where can i get it in the uk



  16. Dear sue,

    Thank you for the tip. I just bought plum extract yesterday at my local Korean market in Daly City – Kukje. I am so excited to add another element to my cooking. Thank you!


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