Umami Mart Sake
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The Food Republic recently declared yuzu as America's next big THING. Well, duhhhh! Umami Mart readers, writers and shoppers have been privy to this whimsical citrus for a long while now so we're not lifting any eyebrows at these sort of dramatic announcements.

That said, I don't use yuzu that often in my cooking. Yuzu is a kind of enigma, especially in the U.S. -- the season is short, producers are scarce and they are $$$. So, like Yoko, what do you do to preserve a generous gift bag of yuzu from a friend with a green thumb? I made Yuzu Liqueur for the ultimate luxury in spiritous beverages.

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I asked my knowledgable bartender friends Chris and Martha about how they make their citrus liqueurs or cordials. They both had vastly different recipes. I continued to dig further into the internet, in both English and Japanese and pulled info where I deemed important. I didn't want this to be a huge production (lazy!) so I simplified as much as possible.

INGREDIENTS

1 bottle 750ml high proof clear alcohol. I used rum
At least 7 yuzu. I had 14 (might be too many)
2 cups sugar
1.5 liter air tight canning jar with seal

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METHOD

1. Wash yuzu and dry completely. See those nubs?

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Pull them off:

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2. I found recipes from Japan that said to peel the fruit; other recipes said to juice them. So I did both.

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Keep the peels! You can throw out seeds and extra membrane from juicing.

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I may have skipped an important step here: all recipes from Japan said to scrape off the white pith of the peel, to minimize bitterness. Some ladies even expertly skinned each yuzu with a knife! I tried scraping one, and well, it was a pain. So I left them on. I'm not sure how this will effect the final liqueur, only time will tell. Did I fuck this up?!?!

Gorgeous, tart fruit. This was the first time I've ever seen peeled yuzu.

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3. Measure 2 cups sugar. Martha told me to add 2 cups sugar for every 750ml of alcohol. Yes maam!

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4. Layer all the ingredients in the mason jar:

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5. Pour in juice, strain out membrane:

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6. Pour in the alcohol:

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7. Seal.

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Ideally, you will only have about an inch or less of space at the top of the jar. You want to minimize air contact here, which is also important for when you make ume liqueur.

8. Once a day, flip and turn the jar around so the sugar moves around and eventually dissolves.

I did see a recipe for yuzu liqueur using shochu by Kyoto Foodie, which I considered. But they say that high-proof spirits like everclear or in my case El Dorado 151, extracts the most out of whatever you are infusing. Since yuzu is such a unicorn fruit, I wanted the most impact in flavor. I'm not sure how the flavors from this Agricole rum will affect my infusion, but I love El Dorado so it will be awesome I am sure.

Here's a photo of the liqueur at day 3.



Chris, and many other recipes, say that I need to strain the peel within 24 hours to 7 days, according to my liking. I just tried a sip of the liqueur, and it may be time as I am getting some bitterness. But it's hard to tell cause the alcohol is SO HOT. Hopefully that will mellow out over time.

Also, I may have used too much fruit in ratio to alcohol. Maybe I'll add another bottle of alcohol??!?! I'll consult with Chris and Martha and add any pertinent updates back on this post.

What will I do with my yuzu liqueur once it's done in a year or so??? I'll add small doses of it to sparkling wine, tiki drinks and tonic. I can't wait!
Column: Happy Hour
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7 comments

  • exposing the white pith can lead to bitterness. you could put yuzu in whole and then add another set of yuzu in with the fruit minus skin and pith then you would have the taste of the skin without the bitter white. but yuzu I think is tricky I plan to grow one and will tell you in so cal it is used in delicious chocolates a chocolate french company from Japan

    christine avakoff on

  • i’m not sure about liqueur making but maybe you could zest/grate/peel the rind before squeezing/peeling the yuzu as it might be easier.

    hopefully the liqueur turns out well and doesn’t get too bitter! good luck!

    grub on

  • i’m really interested in trying this out. but i don’t think i can get yuzu (or ume) anywhere near my place. what other fruits can i use? or can i just use any fruit i like with the same ratio?

    alissa on

  • @Grub: I left the peels in for 7 days and it did indeed turn bitter. I’ll try your method next time @Christine!

    @James, I saw yuzu at Tokyo Fish Market the other day!

    Kayoko on

  • Love this! But where/when does one acquire yuzus? I’ve never seen them, even at Berkeley Bowl.

    James Khazar on

  • This reminds me of a recipe for limencello that I once made for Christmas gifts… at the end, you use the same liquor bottle and dilute the infusion by half (with Everclear like I used or 151 Rum, it’ll still be strong!) I’d like to give this a shot using the limoncello method… and yes, using a knife to peel off the pith was tedious but well worth it!

    Chelsea on

  • @Alissa, yes you can use about any fruits! Stonefruits are best. Peaches, sweet citrus like kumquats and apricots! We’ve also used loquats!
    http://blog.umamimart.com/2009/06/how-to-make-biwashu-loquat-liqueur/

    Kayoko on

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