There are so many kinds of citrus fruits in Japan that it is no exaggeration to say Japan is a citrus kingdom. Citrus fruits can be enjoyed in each season, but the citrus representative of winter is yuzu (柚子). Yuzu (citron) is the most popular citrus fruit in winter, and surprisingly, Japanese lemons are in season in winter. Today, I would like to tell you about yuzu and lemons.
Yuzu (Japanese citron) is so representative of winter in Japan that it is the most produced and consumed fruit in the world. Yuzu has a wide variety of uses and it is said that there is nothing to throw away because all parts can be used.
The juice and peel of the yuzu are used in many ways to add flavor and acidity to Japanese cuisine.
The peel can be grated, shredded, or cut into pieces to add flavor to dishes. It is especially delicious on tofu or grilled fish. The pulp of the yuzu is hollowed out to form a bowl called a yuzu kama (柚子釜), which is used for serving dishes. The juice is very acidic, so it can be used as a substitute for vinegar in sushi and vinegar dishes.
Yuzu is an indispensable ingredient in hot pots, a staple of Japanese winters, and helps to enhance the flavor of the hot pot as a condiment. The skin is also used as a spice and condiment such as in shichimi, which is a seven-flavor chili pepper. In other words, it is an important part of the Japanese diet.
My mother used to make jam with the yuzu which my father harvested in his orchard. When I was a kid, I didn’t like that jam because its taste is a little too bitter for kids. But now I love it. I make yuzu-cha (yuzu tea) with yuzu jam and hot water. It makes my body warm and the aroma makes me relaxed.
If you have a chance to get yuzu, try making some yuzu jam!
After making yuzu jam, don’t throw away these pips. Yuzu pips contain many pectins. Lotion made with yuzu pips is the best way to moisturize skin in winter. Making a lotion from yuzu is very easy to make. All you need are unwashed Yuzu pips and tasteless and odorless alcohol, vodka, or rubbing alcohol. Here is how. For each pip, add 3-5 times that amount of alcohol. Put these two ingredients in a sterilized jar and get a lid on. Put it in a cold dark place and sometimes shake it. Keep it until thickened. Drain it off with a strainer. If your skin is delicate, you can dilute it with purified water. And you should put it in the refrigerator to help it keep. You need to use all of it within about one month.
In winter in Japan, when yuzu is harvested, the whole yuzu or its peel can be put in a cloth bag or floated in a bathtub as a bath salt. This bath is called yuzu-yu. We Japanese people enjoy the smell and this atmosphere when we take a bath. It is said that yuzu increases blood circulation, which in turn raises the body temperature, making it harder to catch a cold. It is also said to be good for stiff shoulders, back pain, neuralgia, gout, and cold sores.
Yuzu seed oil is also said to be effective in inhibiting melanin production and alleviating symptoms of allergic dermatitis.
Salted Lemon=pickled lemon 塩レモン
Everyone knows lemon is a fruit that is used in a lot of ways in cooking. They are high in vitamin C and citric acid and are excellent for preventing colds and relieving fatigue. There is a recipe that I would like to introduce to you today using this lemon, which is easy to obtain. It is salted lemon (pickled lemon, shio-remon, 塩レモン). This salted lemon is a versatile seasoning with endless uses. Originally a traditional Moroccan seasoning, it is made by dipping lemons in salt and letting them sit.
All you have to do is mix the salt and lemon, shake it once a day, and let it sit for about a week or more. It’s that easy, right?
Salted lemon has a refreshing aroma of lemon and a deep umami flavor. It’s a magical seasoning that can be used for just about anything, and it will elevate your favorite dishes to the next level. It is kind of a seasoning that makes you want to praise yourself for making it.
Lemon Pickle Recipe
- Lemons (Use organic lemons, if possible)
- Salt (10-20% of the weight of the lemon)
- Wash the lemons well. Slice them.
- Weigh the lemon, then prepare the salt of 10-20% weight of the lemon.
- Put part of that in a jar, then add salt.
- Make layers of salt and lemon in the jar.
- Shake it once a week at least
- Preserve it at room temperature for a month until it’s ready to eat.
Lemon fermented juice
Lemonade is a very popular drink in the world, I know. It’s easy to make lemonade-based juice. All you need is lemon and sugar. Today, I’ll tell you one of the Japanese recipes for lemonade juice. It’s called “Lemon fermented juice.”
This lemon enzyme juice is made with only lemon and sugar. The day after you mix them together, wash your hands under running water for at least 15 seconds (do not wash them with soap) and mix the juice at least once a day. The reason why you don’t want to wash your hands with soap is because the indigenous bacteria on your hands help the fermentation process. So the taste changes depending on the maker and it develops a homemade taste.
It is said that the enzymes in the fermentation process increase the flavor and nutritional value.
It can take up to two weeks, three weeks, or even three months to complete. It’s fun to drink it in the in-between state. When it is ready, strain it through a colander and put only the syrup in a separate container. The remaining the lemon that stays in the colander can be chopped and used in sweets, or added directly to tea. They are also delicious as a dressing or dried fruit.
The syrup can be enjoyed not only with water or soda, but also with wine or other liquors.
Of course, it can also be made with ginger and other fruits in addition to lemons, so if you have a lot of fruit on hand, be sure to give it a try.
While quick and easy is very convenient, there are many important things that are inconvenient and time consuming. I think cooking is one of them. Please take the time and effort to make something, and add a spoonful of love at the end. I am sure it will turn out to be the most delicious thing ever.
Thank you very much.
I’m a clay artist, and a master of Japanese calligraphy “Onore-sho”. I have my own shop in Ikaruga town, Nara, which is near Horyuji temple: world heritage site. And I’m a volunteer English tour guide. I enjoy learning English everyday.