What is Yuzu Citrus – Japanese Lemon?

Japanese Yuzu Lemon - Yuzu Citrus Fruit for Japanese Recipes | @whiteonrice

Yuzu is a Japanese citrus lemon that is valued for it’s highly aromatic rind and Yuzu is one of the few citrus in the world that is able to maintain it’s tart/sourness at high cooking temperatures. Because the yuzu is considered a citron, the juice is very minimal, thus often expensive.  Outside of a few Asian cuisines and particularly in Japanese cultural circles, yuzu is seldom grown or used because it’s rather rare. Used in both green and more ripe, yellow forms it’s a prized citrus in the culinary world.

Yuzu is sour, tart, very fragrant and slightly smaller than a billiard ball. The intensity and aroma of fresh yuzu is incredible.  Yuzu is a citrus that isn’t eaten straight, but is used as a souring ingredient through the use of it’s juice and zest.  The flavor is reminicent somewhere between a classic Eureka lemon and an oro blanco grapefruit, but still has its own unique fragrance and flavor.  It is a bit more floral and sour and utterly wonderful.  It smells so good the Japanese will use yuzu for perfumes and will ritualistically bath in yuzu during Toji (winter solstice).

Japanese Yuzu Lemon - Yuzu Citrus Fruit for Japanese Recipes | @whiteonrice

Japanese Yuzu Lemon - Yuzu Citrus Fruit for Japanese Recipes | @whiteonrice

There isn’t a lot of juice in each little ball of fruit, maybe a teaspoon per yuzu due to much of its mass being occupied by ginormous seeds and a thicker rind. However the juice is one of the very few citrus that can hold up fairly well to cooking without diminishing the flavor.  The zest is packed with delicious oils that allow you to use nearly every part of the yuzu in the kitchen. Yuzu is a integral part to Japanese Ponzu sauce as well as yuzu-kosho, a spicy chili-salt laden with yuzu zest.

Japanese Yuzu Lemon - Yuzu Citrus Fruit for Japanese Recipes | @whiteonrice

Our healthy Yuzu tree. And this was just half of the fruit! 

Japanese Yuzu Lemon - Yuzu Citrus Fruit for Japanese Recipes | @whiteonrice

For the home gardener, yuzu is one of the most zone diverse citrus, being cold hardy down to 5-10º F. It is a bit stubborn to get to flower and has a few nasty thorns, but it is well worth the time & care to get these beautiful trees to fruit. They are still a bit hard to track down in the United States, but if you have a great nursery nearby, maybe they’ll be able to special order you one.

The fruit is ready earlier than most citrus, usually September or October, giving citrus heavy areas like southern California and Florida extra incentive to add a yuzu to their collections. One of the things we love most about our garden is that there is almost always something fruiting all year.  Every season and month has something new to look forward to and it helps ease the grief of another favorite ending for the year.

Japanese Yuzu Lemon - Yuzu Citrus Fruit for Japanese Recipes | @whiteonrice

For the home gardener, yuzu is one of the most zone diverse citrus, being cold hardy down to 5-10º F. It is a bit stubborn to get to flower and has a few nasty thorns, but it is well worth the time & care to get these beautiful trees to fruit. They are still a bit hard to track down in the United States, but if you have a great nursery nearby, maybe they’ll be able to special order you one.

The fruit is ready earlier than most citrus, usually September or October, giving citrus heavy areas like southern California and Florida extra incentive to add a yuzu to their collections. One of the things we love most about our garden is that there is almost always something fruiting all year.  Every season and month has something new to look forward to and it helps ease the grief of another favorite ending for the year.

so much fresh garden yuzu to drink, eat and bake with 

Japanese Yuzu Lemon - Yuzu Citrus Fruit for Japanese Recipes | @whiteonrice

More posts about Japanese Lemons: Yuzu & Kabosu:

What is Yuzu? Why is Yuzu so prized?
What is Kabosu? differences between Kabosu and Yuzu
Our Yuzu Sherbert Recipe
Our Yuzu Cocktail Recipe
Our Sauteed Peas with Yuzu Kosho Recipe

 

This post was originally published in 2009 and re-published in 2017 with new images and yuzu information.

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