YUZU 101

What is Yuzu and How to Use it

Yuzu (citrus junos) is a unique and aromatic citrus fruit that has been prized in East Asia for centuries. With a complex, balanced flavor profile of tart and floral notes, it has finally gained popularity in the United States over the last few decades—earning the attention of top chefs and bartenders.

Whether you love yuzu and want more, or you haven't had a chance to try it at all, YUZUCO is your resource.

What is Yuzu?

Yuzu is a hybrid of sour mandarin and ichang papeda (citrus cavaleriei), a wild citrus fruit. It reached Japan through the Korean Peninsula around 1300 years ago and was coveted for its medicinal qualities before becoming a staple of Japanese cuisine. Not unlike lemon or lime, yuzu is an ingredient that beautifully complements and enhances other flavors.

A typical yuzu is roughly tangerine-sized and has a thick bumpy peel filled with essential oils. The color of the peel ranges from green to yellow, depending on the ripeness. A slight firmness and a few scars or black dots are considered signs of quality. Fresh yuzu is famously a bit difficult to work with - each fruit usually has several seeds and provides less juice than other equivalently-sized citrus.

Today, yuzu is most famously grown in southern Japan on the Shikoku and Kyushu Islands, although yuzu. It thrives in cool climates, and is harvested during the winter. YUZUCO yuzu juice comes from these mountainous inland areas with a significant temperature gap between day and night - the ideal conditions for yuzu to manifest its unrivaled aroma and distinctive flavor. Yuzu trees can also be found in Korea, China, Spain, California and Central America.

Describing yuzu’s flavor profile is tricky since it’s so special! Often described as a combination of lemon, grapefruit, and mandarin oranges, it offers a unique balance of tartness, citrusy brightness, and subtle floral notes. Imagine the tanginess of your garden variety lemon and the refreshing zest of grapefruit — but with more flavor and less acidity.

How to Use Yuzu

There are many ways to integrate yuzu into your everyday cooking. The first and most straightforward of which is to use the juice, which is fragrant and lightly acidic. A little goes a long way with yuzu juice and it can be splashed into everything from salad dressings and marinades to cocktails and still or sparkling water. 

One well-known application of yuzu juice is a classic Japanese ponzu sauce, which combines yuzu juice with soy sauce, kombu, rice vinegar, and mirin. This tangy, umami-rich sauce goes well with sushi, sashimi, dumplings, and grilled meats. Try equal parts yuzu and soy sauce if you’re short on the traditional ponzu ingredients. Yuzu’s bright citrus notes can also upgrade desserts like custards, ice creams, and cakes. 

Beyond juice, the zest and peel of yuzu can be used to infuse oils, syrups, and spirits. Simply grate the zest or peel and incorporate it into your desired recipes for a vibrant yuzu essence.

For some more inspiration, check out our recipes here you'll find some amazing drinks, dishes, dressings and desserts. For a simple weeknight dinner with ingredients that are easy to find, try our Yuzu Honey Glazed Chicken or Yuzu Miso Pasta. To pair with a bright drink, try our take on lemonade, the Yuzu Honey Sip. Don't forget to try out a nice yuzu dressing or yuzu dessert too.