Yuzu is the best known of the Japanese citrus fruits, the juice combines grapefruit and mandarin flavours with unrivalled zest. The skin of the fresh fruit carries a powerful hit of citrus with a striking, floral aroma. An essential element of Japanese cuisine, yuzu is used to flavour ponzus, soy sauces, miso, honey and chilli paste. European chefs have embraced its famously tart juice in dishes as wide ranging as fish and white meat to sorbets, ice creams and cheesecakes. Yuzu juice and zest are also big hits with the cocktail crowd and a yuzu gin & tonic tastes like discovering the drink all over again for the first time.
The yuzu tree is a hybridisation of a sour mandarin and the lemon like Ichang papaeda. It is from the Ichang papaeda that the yuzu inherited its ability to stand cold temperatures. The hardiest of all citrus, yuzu can survive -5ºC once it has reached 2-3 years old. Until that point the plant should be grown in a pot and moved inside over winter. In common with all citrus, yuzu requires as much sun as you can offer in the warmest, most sheltered spot.
These trees are three years old and were grafted with yuzu in early 2015. They are 100cm-120cm high in a 3 litre pot. Some are already producing flowers and fruit. All are expected to produce fruit next year.
QUALIFIES FOR FREE P&P IN UK
PLEASE NOTE: DELIVERY OF YUZU TREES TO EU DESTINATIONS WILL MOST LIKELY INCUR A SURCHARGE. YOU WILL BE NOTIFIED OF THE COST PRIOR TO SHIPPING. AT THAT TIME YOU MAY CHOOSE TO PAY THE OUTSTANDING SUM OR CANCEL THE ORDER.
Your yuzu tree should be potted into a larger pot this autumn or earlier if you wish. Use free-draining compost and maintain only slightly damp, resisting the temptation to water as often as your normal houseplants. Good drainage is essential so use gravel or broken terracotta in the base of the container. The tree can grow 6ft high so allow it room to grow and gather all the sun available.
If after two years you wish to plant your yuzu into the garden choose a south facing position in the warmest spot of your garden. A wall or hedge to provide shelter from prevailing winds is an advantage and will provide frost protection. Mound the earth and tree above the surrounding soil level to prevent water-logging. Acidic soils are preferable, if you have a clay soil dig free draining material like sand or fine gravel into the soil.
A nitrogen rich fertiliser application during the growing season is advised. Pots should be moved inside over winter to a cool area and away for any heating source. Trees that are outside should be fleeced during the coldest periods.
Be warned, yuzu trees wear their hardiness on the outside sporting sharp thorns that will make themselves known if not handled with care. These can be removed if they are a hazard.
The most likely pest attack would come from aphid or mites. Encourage natural predators like ladybirds, lacewings and spiders. If evidence is seen a spray bottle filled with water and a couple drops of mild dish soap will usually deter them. Keep trees dust free (mites loves dust) by gently rinsing the leaves with a very mild soap or rinsing outdoor trees with a hose every couple of weeks.
Water logging is the most common ailment in the UK climate so please follow the drainage advice above and prevent the tree sitting in water.
Highly fragrant, small white flowers appear with the spring and fruit is ready to harvest in December or January for a seasonally citrus lift to Christmas and the New Year.
Pick from the tree when the skin is a bright yellow. Dark spots or stains on the skin are normal and a sign of ripeness. Any early fallers can be used green for an extra tart yuzu juice. If you have bumper harvest yuzu freezes whole with excellent results for both the juice and the zest.