Yuzu is a citrus fruit grown primarily in Japan.
A Yuzu tree is an evergreen tree that will grow up to 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 metres) tall with long, narrow, pointed, fragrant dark-green leaves, and thorny branches. The tree can survive temperatures down to 5 F (- 15 C.) There are several varieties of the tree. The tree grows wild in Tibet and in Central China, but the fruit is more popular in Japan, where the tree is cultivated.
When the tree blooms, it produces small, white blossoms, and then fruit. The width of the fruit ranges from 2 to 3 inches (10 to 15 cm), about the size of a golfball, and is segmented inside, as other citrus fruit is. The fruit has relatively big seeds for its size. Depending on the variety, the rind of the fruit can be yellow or green. Some varieties have an extremely thick rind and almost no pulp; others have a thinner rind and more pulp.
Some varieties are green in the summer, ripening in the autumn to finally become yellow. Other varieties start green and stay green; they are almost always a bit smaller than yellow varieties. Green Yuzu, called "Ao-yuzu" in Japanese, is sold and used both ripe and unripe.
The fruit is not a particularly attractive one. The rind is rough, like very lumpy lemon skin. It is, though, highly fragrant, and you can smell it many yards away. It has a different smell and taste from lemons, limes or oranges. Despite its fragrance, however, the fruit is very, very sour and for this reason it is prized as a souring agent in cooking.
Yuzu is never eaten raw. It is used instead for its zest and juice, as lemons and limes are. The zest is used as a garnish.
The zest can be bought dried, freeze-dried and powdered. Its taste survives the drying process better than does the taste of zest from other citrus fruit.
Yuzus do yield juice, but in such little quantities that it is almost impossible to produce any significant quantities at home. Commercially, salt is used to help increase the juice yield from the fruit. The juice, which is sold in small (expensive) bottles has a very sour tang that actually survives well even when simmered, unlike that of other citrus fruit. Yuzu juice plays an important role in making Ponzu Sauce.
Importing fresh Yuzu into America is not allowed, but it's now being grown (as of 2004) in California. The fresh fruit is very expensive in America: up to $40 US a pound (2004 prices.)
Yuzu is only just now (2004) being discovered by foodies in the West, with those in London lending the way.
The peel has bitter white pith under it that you need to avoid when zesting, just as with all citrus fruit.
1 Yuzu = 1 teaspoon of juice
Yuzu is native to southern China. It is believed to be a natural hybrid between the "Ichang papeda" citrus fruit, and a mandarin orange. It was introduced into Japan sometime before the 800s.
Tends to be referred to as "Yuzu Lime" in English when it has green skin.
YuzuYuzu Gama; Yuzu Juice; Yuzu Kosho; Yuzu Shichimi; Yuzu Vinegar; Yuzu
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Ao-yuzu; Japanese Citron; Yuzu Limes; Citrus junos Rutaceae, Citrus junos Sieb. ex. Ten. (Scientific Name); Yuzu-Zitrone (German)