Yuzu (scientific name Citrus ichangensis × C. reticulata) is an erect shrub or small tree. Usually, this plant has several large thorns. The leaves of yuzu are remarkable, as they have large petioles that bear resemblance to those of ichang papeda and kaffir lime, both related species. The leaves of yuzu are potently fragrant.
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In several aspects yuzu has a close resemblance to sudachi, which is a Japanese citrus from Tokushima Prefecture. In fact, yuzu and the mandarin-ichang papeda share a common ancestry. However, ripened yuzu fruits have an orange color. Moreover, the flavours of these two fruits (yuzu and ichang papeda) have subtle differences.
The yuzu has its origin in China and Tibet and is found growing in wild in these places. However, there is some confusion over the name of this plant in Chinese. In present day China, the term yòuzi denotes pomelo, while yuzu is called xiāngchéng. During the Tang Dynasty, this plant was introduced to Japan and Korea. Currently, this plant is extensively cultivated in these countries.
Yuzu is a stimulating, fresh citrus fruit that is also found growing in the cooler mountain slopes in Japan's Shikoku Island. Shikoku is a vacation land having forested mountains and crystal clear rivers rushing by. It is the main place where you will find numerous yuzu orchards, which actually cover the slopes of hillocks as well as the patchwork facing the higher mountainsides. People in Japan traditionally place the rinds of yuzu in warm bath water with a view to have a relaxing bath. The essential oil extracted from yuzu rind is wonderful citrus oil, which is absolutely clear, but still invitingly fragrant. Chemical analysis of yuzu essential oil has revealed that it encloses limonoids, which possess antioxidant properties.
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Yuzu (Citrus ichangensis × C. reticulata) was earlier known as Citrus junos. Although this plant has its origin in China, today it is mostly cultivated in Japan, where the plant is called yuzu. The fruit of this plant resembles a bulgy tangerine, while the leaves of the plant are fascinatingly compound. The larger leaflet of the plant is connected with the stem via a smaller leaflet.
Usually yuzu fruits are harvested while they are still green in autumn. However, eventually the color of yuzu fruits changes to orange-yellow when ripe. The aroma of the fruits is distinctively dissimilar from that of any other citrus fruit. It is typically a dry aroma and tart, which reminds one of green grapefruit with a distinct nuance of mandarin orange. People seldom consume the yuzu fruit as its flesh is very bitter, acidic and contains numerous seeds. However, the rind of the fruit as well as the juice extracted from the fruit and its rind are an essential part of Japanese gastronomy.
It has been a tradition to use the yuzu fruit peels in hot baths taken on the winter solstice day with a view to protect the bathers from colds and flu during the winter.
People in Japan have been following the custom of bathing with yuzu fruit on Tōji, the winter solstice day, since the beginning of the 18th century. People float whole yuzu fruits in their hot bath water or at times enclose the fruits in cloth bags and float them in their hot bath water. This results in the release of the essential oil's fragrance along with its therapeutic properties. One may also cut the yuzu fruit into half, thereby facilitating the discharge of the citrus juice and its fusion with the bath water. In Japan, yuzu bath is commonly known as yuzuyu or yuzuburo, which is believed to protect the bathers from colds. At the same time, it also helps to warm the body, unwind the mind and treat the rough skin and make it softer.
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However, aside from the winter solstice day, one can enjoy yuzu baths at any time of the year, especially for treating conditions like rheumatism, arthritis and common pains and aches. The essential oil obtained from this fruit has a tonic effect, which helps to invigorate the circulatory as well as digestive systems.
The juice of yuzu as well as the extract of the fruits rind are very popular in Japan and are widely used in the form of flavoring agents. Both impart an extremely delectable, lemon-fruity as well as floral savour to foods to which they are added. Earlier, people in Japan made a stimulating lemonade-type drink using these juices. In addition, the juice of the fruit and its rind are included in salad dressings, used to make marmalade and also in ice-creams. Actually, there are innumerable uses of this delectable fruit and its juice in Japan. People in this island nation seem to have no dearth of reasons to use them to make their foods more delicious.
Yuzu essential oil is obtained from the rind of the plant's fruits through the cold expression process. Yuzu essential oil has a light yellow hue and has a lovely citrus aroma. The essence of this oil is somewhere between mandarin and grapefruit, with light connotations of lime and bergamot. The quality of yuzu essential oil is tangy and dry and, at the same time, it produces a very appealing floral note.
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It has been found that when yuzu essential oil is used in aromatherapy, its action is very akin to that of bergamot essential oil. Application of yuzu oil refreshes the mind and body, in addition to having an uplifting action. It also helps to soothe the mind and emotions. Similar to bergamot essential oil, yuzu essential oil possesses potent anti-bacterial properties, thereby making it very effectual in dealing with colds and flu. These attributes of yuzu essential oil as well as its effectiveness in dealing with the above mentioned conditions have made yuzu very popular in Japanese folk medicine.
Currently, people use yuzu essential oil for several different purposes, such as for alleviating rheumatism, arthritis, general muscle pains and aches. Moreover, it is said that the essential oil obtained from the fruit also helps to stimulate the digestive system.
Yuzu essential oil is very useful for alleviating burn outs, stress, anxiety or nervous tension. Application of yuzu essential oil helps to calm and soothe our emotions. Similarly, this oil also uplifts the mood by easing depression, regret, and frustration. It also makes our thinking clearer and increases concentration, thereby helping to build confidence.
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Yuzu essential oil is very useful for treating skin disorders. This oil cures dry and chapped skin. It is also beneficial for our digestive system, since this citrus oil works in the form of a tonic and invigorates the digestive system.
In addition, since yuzu possesses potent antioxidant properties, this oil is beneficial for our immune system. It protects our body from the harmful free radicals. As far as the lymphatic system is concerned, yuzu serves as a tonic as well as stimulant. This system is also effective for the musculoskeletal system, since it helps in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, common aches and pains.
Yuzu essential oil is also beneficial for our nervous system, as its application helps to enhance mental clarity and augments concentration, thereby serving as an inspiring as well as uplifting remedy. At the same time, yuzu essential oil helps to increase relaxation, and support sound sleep. People with sleep disorders may use this oil before bedtime with a view to unwind their mind and body.
Yuzu essential oil may prove to be phototoxic. Hence, it is advisable that you never expose the area where you have applied this oil to direct sunlight for about 24 hours or more. This is especially important for people with sensitive skin.