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The 6 Best Substitutes for Ume Plum Vinegar

Ume plum vinegar provides a unique umami taste to your dishes and takes your cooking to the next level. However, not everyone has this delicious ingredient in their pantries, and if you’re wondering what to use instead, you’re in the right place. This article will explore the substitutes you can use for ume plum vinegar, ensuring your dishes don’t feel like they’re lacking something.

1. Mirin

Mirin is a Japanese rice wine that is relatively similar to sake, though with a lower ABV. It’s generally used for cooking rather than consumed as an alcoholic beverage. 

There are three types of alcoholic mirin available:

  • hon mirin is 14% ABV
  • shin mirin is under 1% ABV,
  • shin mirin is at least 1.5% salt. 

Shin mirin is an excellent option if you’re looking for the taste of hon mirin without the alcohol.

You can also use mirin as a substitute for ume plum vinegar. To get as similar a taste as possible, combine 2 parts of sugar with 1 part of water. For every cup of water you use, combine 3 tablespoons of hon mirin or shin mirin into your liquid mixture. 

Mix the ingredients well and heat the liquid until the sugar dissolves. 

2. Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar is perhaps the closest substitute to ume plum vinegar available. This vinegar’s sour, fruity taste is relatively similar to that of ume plum vinegar. 

However, discerning foodies will realize that red wine vinegar has a less salty taste. To create the perfect ume plum vinegar, substitute red wine vinegar, combine 1 part of water with 2 parts of red wine vinegar, and add salt to taste. 

Additionally, keep in mind that high-quality red wine vinegar has a stronger taste than ume plum vinegar, so only add a small amount when you use this substitute for the first time. This will allow you to incorporate it slowly and stop when it reaches the perfect flavor. 

Once you know how much red wine vinegar substitute you like, it will make cooking with it easier the next time around. 

3. Date Vinegar

Date vinegar is a rich, complex vinegar made as a non-alcoholic substitute for wine-based vinegar. It’s relatively similar to ume plum vinegar, thanks to its richness of taste.

As with red wine vinegar, it should be noted that date vinegar is not as salty to taste as ume plum vinegar. To make the perfect ume plum vinegar replacement, use the same recipe as you did for red wine vinegar, mixing 1 part water with 2 parts date vinegar and salt to taste.

I recommend using the Supreme Organic Date Vinegar from Amazon, which is an organic option featuring no added chemicals or flavorings and is fermented to 5% acidity.

4. White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar is made the same way as red wine vinegar, but the only difference is the type of wine used in its production. It’s lighter and more delicate to your palette than red wine vinegar. 

However, it still makes for a great replacement for ume plum vinegar, thanks to its sour, acidic notes. 

But the lightness of this vinegar does mean you cannot use the same proportions as you did when creating the red wine vinegar replacement. Instead, combine equal parts of water and white wine vinegar, and add salt to taste. 

When using this mixture in a recipe, use 2 parts of the replacement for every one part of ume plum vinegar. So, if your recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of ume plum vinegar, you should use 6 tablespoons of white wine vinegar replacement. 

This replacement will be made of 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons of water, and salt to taste.

5. Umeboshi Paste

Did you accidentally throw away the brine left over when making umeboshi? If so, don’t worry, as you can actually use some of the umeboshi itself as an ume plum vinegar substitute. 

Simply blend your umeboshi plums into a paste to get this substitute. Alternatively, you can use a store-bought paste. I recommend using the Eden Umeboshi Paste from Amazon. 

This tart paste is vegan and contains no added flavorings, colorings, or chemicals. 

Because this paste uses the same primary flavors, you don’t need to make any changes to the paste before adding it to your recipes. However, some people find that umeboshi paste has a stronger flavor than ume plum vinegar. In such a situation, mix 1 part of water with 2 parts of the paste to dilute it before using.

6. Fish Sauce

As mentioned above, ume plum vinegar is often used as a vegan and vegetarian substitute for fish sauce. However, the reverse is also possible, so if you’re out of the vinegar, you can simply use fish sauce in your recipe instead.

Fish sauce is a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisines and has a pungent smell. The formulation contains several amino acids, which help lend the sauce an umami flavor. This means that, like ume plum vinegar, fish sauce allows you to add umami to your dishes. 

As with umeboshi paste, you don’t need to do much if you use fish sauce as an ume plum vinegar replacement. Simply add the same amount to your dish as the recipe specifies for ume plum vinegar, and you’re good to go!

What Exactly Is Ume Plum Vinegar?

Ume plum vinegar is a Japanese ingredient made from the brine left over after making umeboshi (pickled ume plums). Making umeboshi involves fermenting the plums for a month, adding beefsteak (red shiso) leaves to the brine, and pickling the plums for another 4-5 days.

When the ume plums are removed, the liquid that is left becomes ume plum vinegar. This liquid has an umami, salty, ocean-like flavor. It is used as everything from a salad dressing and seasoning to an ingredient in numerous beverages and cocktails. Because of the similarity in taste, it is also used as a vegetarian substitute for fish sauce.


The best substitutes for ume plum vinegar:

  1. Mirin
  2. Red wine vinegar
  3. Date vinegar
  4. White wine vinegar
  5. Umeboshi paste
  6. Fish sauce

For more, don’t miss Why Is Vinegar Added To Boiling Water When Cooking Eggs?