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.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Sabrina B.

    really interesting, wonder how they’d pair with the sweet varieties of Italian lemons, like the two on the Amalfi Coast used in limoncello? wonder if the sweet-sour combination of the two would be interesting, thank you for a very interesting article!

  2. Marie

    I live in Orange County and also noticed that my yuzu tree did not bear fruit. I believe it was due to the wonky weather we had last year. The winter was unusually warm. This year, we had a colder winter so now my yuzu has a lot of flowers. Here is a great article on how to induce flowering in your citrus tree: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/induce-citrus-blooming-23219.html

    The main things I want to point out are:

    1) Citrus needs a good winter chill period in order to flower well in the spring. The winter chill helps initiate dormancy.

    2) Water sparingly during the wintertime. This also helps establish dormancy. Water every 2-3 weeks depending on the weather.

    3) Apply nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season. Citrus trees are nitrogen hogs.

  3. Emi

    Thank you for sharing the tip!
    Same for us, no fruit last year…

  4. Emi

    Can you share your tips to help the yuzu tree blossom and bear fruit? I purchased a yuzu tree for my dad at the Goldenwest College a couple years ago and it doesn’t seem to be blossoming. I thought I came across a post on your site in the past where you shared the tip that a Japanese gardener gave you to help it bear fruit but I can’t find it now. Another yuzu tree trying to bear fruit in Costa Mesa 🙂

    Thanks!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      The gardeners told us they sometimes needs to be stressed before they’ll flower. He told us to tie twine around the base of the branches and as the tree grows it will slowly start to choke the branch and then the yuzu should start to flower. After that we cut the twine off. We’ve had a couple years of great fruit, however last year nothing at all. Maybe just due to the climate or the tree resting. Not sure. We have just noticed a couple flowers starting this year. New buds are just starting, so we’ll see which are going to be flowers and which will be leaves. Good luck. Hope that helps!
      T & D

  5. Angelina

    I am looking for Yuzu Trees in Florida. Does anyone know where I can find this tree for sale in Florida. The closest nursery I found is Mckenzie Farm in South Carolina, and they are not allowed to ship to Florida. Please help!!!!

    1. Lisa

      Hi angelina. Just returned from an event at the south Fla fairground (WPB) and bought one from the PBrarefruitcouncil event. Go to pbrarefruitcouncil.org. I think they have 2 events a year over there. Good luck!

  6. Carinne (ToGetHer One)

    Oh, cool nursery tips.

    Really, the best part of this citron is the zest from its peel. Wise ingredient for beauty treatments as well. My household loves yakitori so much, that I really want to make my own yuzu kosho ai and yuzu ponzu. If I can harvest yuzu, then I also want to upgrade the traditional Malaysian barley lemonade for a taste.

    C?m ?n b?n. (Tried to type Viet w/ accents however your site is not accepting its origins.)

  7. Janet dela cruz

    I am looking for a plant nursery of YUZU plant maybe you can help me . Or you have a stock of this plant. and also the green Tea plant. Please email me back.

    Many thanks,

    Janet Dela Cruz

    1. White On Rice Couple

      Hello Janet- sorry, we don’t sell plants, we’re just home gardeners. Good luck in finding the best nursery in your area! If you are in the So Cal area, we’ve seen them at the San Gabriel Nursery as well as Roger’s Gardens.

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