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A Taste of Japan: What does yuzu actually taste like?

flavour & aroma Mar 26, 2024
Yuzu fruits are about  the size of a tennis ball and have a yellow peel that is thick and lumpy.

 Introduction

If you're a food enthusiast or someone who enjoys exploring different flavours, you may have come across yuzu. Yuzu is a citrus fruit that has been gaining popularity around the world for its unique taste and versatile applications in cooking.

With its distinct aromatic flavour profile yuzu has become a popular ingredient in both traditional and modern cuisine.

In this blog post, we will explore the origins of yuzu, its flavour profile, and pairing options, so you can successfully incorporate it into your future R&D project and product development process.

 

 

What is a yuzu?

Yuzu is not typically consumed as is but rather used for its juice and zest in a variety of dishes such as vinaigrettes and desserts like lemon drizzle cake.

Yuzu is a unique citrus fruit that originated from Central China, Korea, and Tibet, but it is most commonly associated with Japanese cuisine. It has since been used by a lot of chefs in the Western world.

Yuzu is one of the most cold-resistant citrus fruits, capable of growing at high altitudes and low temperatures. Yuzu results from a cross between the Ichang papeda of a sour mandarin.

Yuzu trees present a significant challenge for cultivation. Not only are the branches covered with sharp thorns that frequently cause damage to the fruit, but the growth rate of yuzu trees is also notoriously slow.

There are two methods for growing yuzu: the "Misho growing method," which involves growing the tree from seed and takes 15-20 years for the trees to bear fruit. This method is commonly practised in traditional growing areas and requires careful handling to enhance the fruit's strong fragrance and rich flavour.

However, in most areas, yuzu is grafted onto a tree such as an orange tree, allowing for fruit production within a few years. Its challenging harvesting process makes it more expensive compared to other citrus varieties.

Unlike lemons or limes, yuzu contains fewer seeds, resulting in less juice.

Yuzu is not typically consumed as is but rather used for its juice and zest in a variety of dishes, both savoury and sweet, such as vinaigrettes, marinades, cocktails, and desserts.

For instance, yuzu white miso is a popular dressing, while ponzu is a common dipping sauce made from the juice of either yuzu or other citrus fruits. Additionally, Koreans prepare yuzu marmalade, which can be diluted with hot water to create a fragrant and aromatic tea.

 


Yuzu flavour profile

Yuzu fruits are about  the size of a tennis ball and have a yellow peel that is thick and lumpy.

I have tried yuzu juices and various yuzu market products. Most of the drinks I found had two or more flavours, such as lemon and yuzu, lime and yuzu, or ginger and yuzu, which made it more difficult to distinguish the yuzu flavour.

In terms of taste, the yuzu juices remind me of a complex blend of citrus fruits, especially mandarin, lemon, and lime, with peely, fruity, juicy, floral, green, sulphurous notes.

However, I must mention that most of the samples in the market have a subtle yuzu flavour, with other flavours being more dominant.

The M&S sparkling water and Happy inside stand out as the best products in terms of the yuzu flavour profile. They offer a complex combination of fruity, citrusy, floral, and green notes, similar to the yuzu juices.


Product tried:
๐Ÿ”ธHand-pressed Yuzu juice
๐Ÿ”ธTokushima Yuzusu Yuzu Juice 
๐Ÿ”ธWaitrose Yuzu juice.  I really don’t recommend this one as it was very musty, very acidic and didn’t have much citrus flavours at all.
๐Ÿ”ธLoveau sparkling water yuzu, lemon and lime
๐Ÿ”ธM&S sparkling water lemon & yuzu
๐Ÿ”ธHip pop ginger and yuzu 
๐Ÿ”ธGenie sunshine soda lime and yuzu 
๐Ÿ”ธHappy inside lemon, yuzu and ginger 
๐Ÿ”ธPunchy cucumber yuzu and rosemary 
๐Ÿ”ธFentimans oriental yuzu tonic 

 


Yuzu use and pairing

Yuzu has a complex flavour profile that can give depth to your product. You can use yuzu juice, zest or flavouring, especially if you are currently using actual citrus or citrus flavourings or extracts among lemon, lime and mandarin.

As it has a lot of similarities with other citruses, yuzu can be paired with:

As it has a lot of similarities with other citruses, yuzu can be paired with: Sweet flavours like tropical fruits, ginger and other citrus fruits. Fish flavours like cod and mackerel. Cheese flavours like brie, cheddar and blue cheese. And other flavours like pesto, mustard, fig, thyme and coriander seeds.

 

 

Conclusion

Yuzu, with its unique flavour profile and versatility in applications, is a flavour worth exploring.

Its aromatic flavours and ability to enhance both sweet and savoury products make it a desirable flavour for the food and beverage industry.

Whether used in desserts, cocktails, sauces, or dressings, yuzu adds a refreshing, sweet and sour twist that can elevate products and create a memorable experience.

 

 Link to related blogs you may enjoy

๐Ÿ”ถ Beyond the Hype: What does ube truly taste like?

๐Ÿ”ถ Beyond the Bar: 5 Eye-Opening Facts About Cacao and Chocolate flavours

๐Ÿ”ถ How Fermentation Elevates the Flavours of Food & Beverage Products?

๐Ÿ”ถ The Sweet Story of Vanilla: From Bean to Extract

 

References

Britanica, Yuzu, https://www.britannica.com/topic/yuzu 

Japan External Trade Organization, Yuzu, https://www.jetro.go.jp/en/trends/foods/ingredients/yuzu.html

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Stay ahead of the game and impress your consumers with our extensive flavour, product development, and technical skills & knowledge.ย 

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