Candied Yuzu peel for the Winter Solstice
This is the time of the shortest day the Winter Solstice known in the Japanese micro season as Touji ( Toji ) (冬至). If you have been following my Japanese micro seasonal blog posts you will know by now that Japanese people like to mark the changing of the seasons. Japanese people celebrate the solstice as they welcome the return of longer days, they pray for good health and eat auspicious food.
Yuzu is a sunny winter citrus fruit and is known for its cleansing properties, it is said the strong smell of Yuzu will drive away evil spirits. It has a rich source of vitamin C which is good for the immunity. The fruit is known for its cleansing properties and its fragrance lowers tension and helps fatigue. This is why it is also popular to visit an onsen and bathe with Yuzu fruit. This bath is called Yuzuyu and the essential oils from the fruit help soothe the skin and mind. It is also said the strong smell of Yuzu will drive away evil spirits. I always like to use Yuzu in a recipe for the solstice it reminds me of the sun and the citrus flavour gives hints of summer days.
I had just recently been gifted quite a few fresh Yuzu fruit and I decided I would make candied Yuzu peel for the winter season, as using yuzu is quite popular at this time of year
Candied Yuzu can be eaten like a wagashi with green tea. Fresh yuzu peel has a floral aroma and tart flavour of grapefruit and mandarin. A delcious treat on it’s own or how about taking it one step further and dip it in chocolate. Mix into pastries, creams, ice cream and sorbet or use as topping on desserts or canapes. Not only does making candied Yuzu peel make this delicious Japanese treat but the by product is something called Yuzu cha 柚子茶 . Basically a Yuzu marmalade you mix with hot water.
The tea has a distinctive citrusy aroma and is delicious and comforting. A perfect drink for winter, or why not try this tangy marmalade spread over toast for breakfast.
This is how I made candied Yuzu peel
Slice your Yuzu in half and juice them ( you will find Yuzu contain more seeds than juice ) strain out as much juice as you can, put this in the fridge for later.
Then scrape out as much of the flesh and white skin inside the fruit so you are left with just the skin.
Slice the skin into thin strips, then put in to a pan and cover with cold water.
Bring the pan to a simmer and pour out the water. Do this again another two times. Then leave the skin to soak in cold water over night.
In the morning drain your skin and add it back to the pan with the Yuzu juice along with x2 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup water. This ratio was used using 9 Yuzu fruit so if you have less you may have to divide this and use your own judgment.
Start to simmer the Yuzu fruit stirring occasionally until it becomes a thick sticky mixture ( this is your Yuzu cha ).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully pick out using chopsticks the Yuzu peel and lay it on the baking sheet, leaving a few to add to your Yuzu cha.
When you have filled the baking sheet bake the Yuzu peel for 1 hour in a cool 100 degree oven.
For the Yuzu cha pour the sticky mixture into a sterilised jar adding a few Yuzu peel stripes. I then put mine in the fridge to set. When you want to make your comforting drink just add a teaspoon to a cup and add hot water.
When your candied peel has been baked for an hour take it out and roll the pieces in sugar.
Add your peel to little bags for gifts or into a jar to use later.
You can buy fresh Yuzu when in season from www.thewasabicompany.co.uk. You can also check out my other recipes and more posts on the winter solstice just search Yuzu or Touji ( Toji ) for more.
A popular wagashi eaten in winter is Yōkan (羊羹) typically made with red bean paste and in the autumn/winter filled with fruits such as persimmon or figs, chestnuts or Japanese sweet potato. I decided to use the candied Yuzu for a citrus yokan wagashi for the solstice. The wagashi is very simple to make using just sweet bean paste, water, yuzu juice and agar agar powder. Just use the recipe for mizu yokan on this website but take out a tablespoon of the water and add Yuzu juice instead. For a thicker yokan you can double the recipe. Pour the mixture into your chosen mould and leave to slightly set then top your yokan with some of the candied Yuzu peel, you can even add festive nuts to the top if you wish. Leave in the fridge for a few hours or over night to set completely.
Enjoy as part of your winter solstice celebrations and look forward to the sun returning once more. Happy Winter Solstice.