Yuzu: The Most Famous Japanese Citrus

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Yuzu is a citrus fruit native to Japan and is believed to be a hybrid of sour mandarin and Ichang papeda. Its unique flavor is tart, sour, and slightly sweet, making it a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine, particularly for flavoring dishes and beverages.

What is a Yuzu?

Yuzu (Citrus junos) is a citrus fruit native to East Asia, specifically China, Korea, and Japan. It is believed to be a hybrid of sour mandarin orange and another citrus fruit called Ichang papeda. The fruit resembles a small grapefruit with bumpy, textured skin that is typically yellow-green.

Yuzu is also sometimes called Japanese citron or Korean citron, and it is often used in traditional Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisine. The fruit has a unique flavor that is tart and floral, with notes of grapefruit, lemon, and mandarin. It is highly fragrant, and its essential oil is used in perfumes, soaps, and other products.

Yuzu is not typically eaten as a standalone fruit because it has a robust and sour flavor. It is an essential ingredient in various dishes, especially in Japanese cuisine. The zest and juice of the fruit can be added to dressings, marinades, miso soups, and sauces, but also to flavor drinks, such as yuzu tea, soda, and cocktails.

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Yuzu have large seeds at the center of the fruit that should always be removed before eating.

The History of Yuzu

The story of Yuzu involves its origins in China and its cultivation in Japan for over a millennium. Initially used for medicinal purposes, it has become a popular cooking ingredient. 

Yuzu is grown in various regions, such as Japan, South Korea, China, California, and Europe. Yuzu trees are resilient and can thrive in cold weather conditions, making them suitable for regions with harsh winters. They usually bear fruit within a few years of planting and live for over a century.

What Does a Yuzu Taste Like?

When eaten raw, Yuzu has a tart and sour flavor similar to a combination of lemon, lime, and grapefruit. It also has a floral aroma that is reminiscent of jasmine or bergamot.

When used in dishes, Yuzu can add flavor and complexity. It is often used as a seasoning for fish, meat, and vegetables and to make sauces, dressings, and marinades. 

How to Tell When Yuzu is Ripe

Identifying a ripe yuzu is a breeze if you pay attention to its appearance, aroma, and texture: 

Texture: A mature yuzu fruit is plump and slightly flattened, with a diameter ranging from a lemon to a grapefruit. 

Color: Its skin is typically golden yellow, with traces of green still visible in some cases. 

Scent: Its powerful scent is a delightful blend of sweetness, citrus, and zestiness.

Are Yuzu and Sudachi Related?

Yes, Yuzu and Sudachi are related as they belong to the citrus family. However, they are distinct fruit species with different appearances, flavors, and usage.

Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that is yellowish-green in color, with bumpy skin and a size similar to that of a small grapefruit. It has a unique aromatic and tart flavor with lemon, grapefruit, and mandarin notes. 

Yuzu is often used in Japanese cuisines, such as in sauces, marinades, and dressings, and its juice and zest are also used in cocktails and desserts.

Sudachi is a Japanese citrus fruit smaller than Yuzu, with green and smooth skin. It has a sour and tangy taste, similar to lime or lemon, but with a slightly sweeter and less acidic flavor. Sudachi is mainly used as a seasoning in Japanese cuisine, especially in soups, noodle dishes, and sauces.

When compared to other citrus fruits, Yuzu and Sudachi are relatively unique in flavor and usage:

PomeloPomelo is a larger citrus fruit with a thick, pithy skin and a sweet and mild taste. 
LimesLimes are small and green, with a sour and acidic flavor, and are commonly used in Mexican and South Asian cuisines. 
LemonsLemons are larger than limes, with a similar sour and acidic taste, and are used in a wide range of dishes and drinks, from lemonade to salad dressings.
GrapefruitGrapefruit is a large, tart citrus fruit with a slightly bitter taste, and it is often eaten for breakfast or used in salads and juices.

Cooking with Yuzu

Before you can eat yuzu, you first need to prepare it by following this simple two-step process:

  1. The first step is to remove the peel. You can use a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife to carefully remove the outer layer of skin, not to remove too much of the pith.
  2. Once you have removed the peel, cut the Yuzu in half and remove the seeds in the middle.

You can cut Yuzu in half and squeeze the juice all over your dish (the same as with a lemon). This works perfectly for fish or chicken dishes.

Yuzu can be used in various dishes, including sauces, dressings, marinades, and desserts. In Japanese cuisine, it is often used in ponzu sauce or teas and in sauces for grilled or fried meats and fish. Yuzu is also popular in liquors like yuzukomachi. Lastly, yuzu kosho is a popular condiment made from yuzu zest, chili peppers, and salt, often served with grilled meat or fish.

Yuzu is also used in Korean salads, such as yuzu kumquat salad, which combines Yuzu, kumquats, and other citrus fruits with a spicy dressing.

In Western cuisine, Yuzu is often used in desserts, dressings, Yuzu curd, jellies, and glazes. Yuzu is often added to cocktails, such as the Yuzu Gimlet, made with yuzu juice, gin, and simple syrup.

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Yuzu marmalade is a simple and delicious way of displaying the fruit’s flavor profile.

Here are some recipes that make great use of Yuzu:

Yuzu Macaron with Candied Grapefruit & Wasabi – These yuzu macarons are something else! The candied grapefruit complements the sweetness of the macaron, while wasabi adds a kick of spice.

Yuzu Marmalade: Yuzu marmalade is made from citrus fruits, which gives it a bright color and fruity taste that will complement any meal. It’s sweet but not overly so, which makes it perfect for your morning toast or evening scones!

LOBSTER WITH YUZU HOLLANDAISE AND UNI MASHED POTATOES – whether you’re looking for something light or hearty, this dish will satisfy your needs! It’s full of rich flavors that meld together beautifully while still allowing each ingredient to shine through on its own terms.

How to Store Yuzu

You can store yuzus at room temperature or refrigerate them if you don’t use them immediately. They typically last a few days at room temperature or in the pantry.

Refrigerating yuzu fruits can help prolong their shelf life for a few weeks.

Nutritional Benefits of Yuzu

Yuzu fruit offers numerous health benefits. For instance, Yuzu contains vitamin C, which may help reduce gout risk by increasing uric acid excretion. Additionally, the vitamin C in Yuzu and other nutrients may help slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of vision loss.

The hesperidin and naringin in Yuzu can improve blood flow and reduce the risk of blood clots and inflammation. Yuzu’s fragrance may also have a calming effect, as evidenced by one study that found that essential oil derived from Yuzu improved the mood of female college students.

While Yuzu is generally safe to consume in average amounts, people with citrus allergies should avoid it.

The Other Uses of Yuzu

Yuzu, a citrus fruit native to East Asia, has been used for centuries in Japanese culture for its therapeutic properties. One of its most popular uses is in yuzu baths, which are believed to have numerous health benefits.

Yuzu baths, or yuzu-yu, are traditional Japanese practices that involve adding whole yuzu fruits or essential oils to hot bathwater. The fragrance of the yuzu fruit is believed to have a calming effect on the mind and body, reducing stress and anxiety.

The hot water combined with the yuzu oils can help soothe sore muscles, promote blood circulation, and alleviate cold and flu symptoms. This custom was practiced especially on Tōji, the winter solstice.

Yuzu wood is highly prized in Japanese woodworking. It is known for its beautiful grain patterns and durability, making it an ideal material for creating high-quality furniture, flooring, and decorative items. 

Where to Purchase Yuzu

Fresh Yuzu may be challenging to find in most grocery stores, but you may have more luck checking specialty Asian markets or gourmet food stores. Some larger cities may have a yuzu-specific vendor or store, and you can also check online for retailers that sell fresh yuzu fruit.

If you’re looking to purchase fresh Yuzu, the best time of year to find it is typically in the winter months, from November to February. However, availability can vary depending on your location and your area’s specific importers or distributors.

If you’re unable to find fresh Yuzu, you may be able to find yuzu juice or dried Yuzu, which are commonly used as a substitute for fresh Yuzu in recipes. These can often be found in specialty stores or online.


Alexandra is a passionate writer who reveres exploring exotic fruit from far-off lands. While she’d like to one day live in a tropical paradise, she reserves that for her palate for now: from the tartness of the tamarind to the sweetness of the mangosteen. She invites others to join her on this journey of discovery, where every fruit is a new adventure.

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