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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 |

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 –

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!

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Written by: Sue

Last Updated: June 24, 2019

Hi, I'm Sue and I am the creator of My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!

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18 thoughts on “Korean Plum Extract (Maesil)”

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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 @

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

  5. 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 –

    • 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.

  6. 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



  7. 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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