A bee store customer brought me a very special present this past week, a small jar of home made yuzu marmalade. Yuzu is a very hardy citrus tree imported from Japan and Korea. My customer is the gardener for the Herb Farm Restaurant. She learned about yuzu as she tended their garden and decided to get one of her own. Three years later her little yuzu tree produced its first fruit, which look like a mandarine orange but taste like a cross between a mandarine and a grapefruit. Since the tree only produced 18 little yuzu, she was only able to use it in two different recipes. It just so happened that I had a few left over biscuits in the fridge at the store and we had an impromptu marmalade tasting at the Beez Neez. It was really quite tasty. I liked it better than any marmalade I had ever tried before. I have to admit that I was quite impressed just with the fact that the citrus in the marmalade had been grown right here in Snohomish County, Washington.
I looked up yuzu on the internet and found that it is about the hardiest citrus cultivated by man. The internet article claimed it was hardy to 15 degrees. It is used in both Korean and Japanese cuisine. Rarely is it eaten fresh, but rather cooked to produce a sauce or a tea. I learned from my daughter, Sarah, that the Koreans call it yuja. She has a favorite Korean fruit tea in which yuja is a primary ingredient. My Korean son-in-law would argue that the Japanese got yuzu from the Koreans and he would probably be right. It was domesticated from a wild hardy citrus found in China. Korea's colder climate would give them a lot more incentive to adopt or develop a hardy citrus. I'm wondering how well it might go as a substitute ingredient in Key Lime Pie? The name Yuzu Pie doesn't particularly grab me, but it just might taste wonderful.
My friend from the Herb Farm grows her yuzu in a green house, following the example of her employer. After my internet research, I'm not sure that is completely necessary. I've lived in Snohomish County for 22 years and the coldest temperature I've seen is 19 degrees. That is still a four degree cushion. I'm thinking a yuzu could safely be planted in the ground and just covered during severe cold snaps as a precaution. I found a source for these wonderful little trees. One Green World, a nursery in the Portland area, has yuzu trees. They're not particularly pricy at $29.95. Even more amazing, One Green world claims their Yuzu trees (Yuzu Ichandrin) are hardy to zero degrees. That sounds more like an apple tree or cherry tree than a citrus tree. Now I really want to grow one.