Japan may be a small island, but it’s got an astounding array of fruit. In fact, did you know that there are over 25 varieties of Japanese citrus? Some citrus came to Japan through China and Korea, but the huge selection is mainly due to cross-breeding by Japanese farmers. Some citrus hybrids were a result of bringing together two different varieties to create a fruit that maximizes sweetness and juiceness. Others were created to meet the year-round demand.
Japanese citrus can possibly be divided into two types. The first type is the sour yet sweet varieties that you can eat as is, like the oranges we’re all familiar with and readily peel to eat. The second type includes the citrus that are too sour to bite into and, instead, are mainly used for seasoning other foods. Are you ready to take a mini tour of Japanese citrus? Let’s take a look at five Japanese citrus fruits and some Japanese snacks made with them!
One of Japan’s oldest citrus fruits, mikan has many names in English, including satsuma orange, mandarin orange, and tangerine. With its easy-to-peel rind, small size, and super sweetness, it is indisputably the most commonly eaten fruit in Japan. It’s inspired farmers to create over a hundred varieties, so, although it is associated with winter, it is now available all year long.
Pom Ponjuice Orange Mochi gives you a sip of the finest mikan juice! Each round, glutinous rice cake is filled with mikan jelly and marshmallow, making it a juicy, pillowy treat.
Handmade Mikan Candy crafted with real fruit juice is tangy, yet sweet. It captures the bright flavor of mikan both in flavor and its vivid color.
Satsumarche Komikan Tea is made with green tea and komikan (literally “small mikan”), the tiniest variety of mikan. The gentle citrus aroma makes it a delightful drink for the coming spring and summer months.
Candied Iokan Peel
A hybrid citrus similar to mikan, iyokan is larger in size and is another widely consumed citrus fruit in Japan. The fruit has a balanced sweet-sour flavor, but it is especially loved for its thick skin that is fragrant yet bitter. The bitter rinds make it appealing for candied snacks or decorating cakes.
Candied Iyokan Peel lets you enjoy the natural flavor of this fruit! Pieces of iyokan peel are boiled in sugar syrup, then dried. The contrast of the sugar to the bitter peel makes this one a tangy treat.
Tiny but zesty, sudachi is one example of a Japanese citrus that is primarily used for seasoning because it is too sour to eat on its own. This fruit is green in appearance, yellowing as it ripens, and it tastes somewhere along the lines of a grapefruit or a super-sour orange. It’s so sour, that its name literally means vinegar citrus (酢橘)! There’s a chance you may have already tasted sudachi in ponzu sauce, a dipping sauce combining it with soy sauce. Sudachi is also added to seafood dishes, including sashimi.
Seaweed Tempura with Sudachi shows off just how well this fruit goes with savory flavors. Enjoy crispy sheets of fried seaweed that are a fun mix of sour and savory!
Bright and bold Shonan Gold fruits may look like lemons, but they’re surprisingly sweet! This citrus fruit is refreshing and seasonally available in spring and summer. Shonan Gold Crispy Candies look like gems, perfect for this star citrus fruit! This unique candy that is flaky and chewy is called ariheito.
Last but not least, we had to feature yuzu, an increasingly popular citrus, even in the West! Similar to sudachi, it is quite sour. With a flavor often described as somewhere between lemon and grapefruit, yuzu is a popular flavor in Japanese candies and drinks, including sodas and alcoholic beverages.
Candied Yuzu Peels bring out the natural sweetness of the fruit to contrast the sourness. These chewy peels are tiny, but intense in flavor!
Yuzu Matcha Japanese Kit Kat harmonizes Japanese green tea with bright, citrus flavors. Don’t forget to check out our Yuzu Green Tea too!
Yuzu Sake Candy and Yuzu Sake Kit Kats give you a taste of yuzu-flavored alcoholic drinks that are popular throughout Japan because of how refreshing they are. Real yuzu is infused into these candies, which contain alcohol, so please snack responsibly!