Citrus Growing Tips + How to Make Yonzu Sauce

June 7, 2012

I have been experimenting with citrus in my zone 5/6 home for the last few years.  I can’t say that I have mastered the science of keeping lemons, limes and oranges in this unnatural climate (New England), but I have, by trial and error, come to be able to pass along a couple of tips if you are interested to grow citrus in the north.

Citrus Growing Tips + How to Make Yonzu Sauce (Yuzu Fruit)

This is probably obvious, but you must plant citrus trees in containers and move them outside in the summer and inside for the winter. It is the only way around the fact that citrus and freezing cold don’t mix.  I treat them like slightly petulant house plants because they do have a tendency to throw fits and drop all their leaves on occasion.

When you bring them in, if you can, don’t bring them all the way in.  Contrary to what might seem right, I have found they fair a lot better in my cold (but not freezing) sun porch for the winter.   This way, the group of them can keep the relative humidity higher than my house.  The warm dry air inside the main part of my house does nothing for them except to encourage near life threatening and uncontrollable levels of scale (gross!).

Oh, and feed them with a good citrus fertilizer — container living isn’t easy and these guys need some special attention.

So now that I have mastered the basics (I even got 7 lemons off one of my trees earlier this year!)…I am yearning to try spread my wings and try out some of the great offerings at  Four Winds Growers.…specifically Yuzu.  Four Winds has a great variety of funky fruit to plant in your home based Orangerie.

Have you heard of this fruit, Yuzu?   It is particularly cold hardy (as citrus goes) and will tolerate temps down to 5-10 deg F (giving you a little seasonal leeway against a late or early unexpected frost).  And the recipes I have turned up sound divine.  I am contemplating what might be tasty dipped in Ponzu Sauce (recipe from Four Winds Growers).  I think lettuce wraps for sure.

Ponzu Sauce (Traditional Japanese Dipping Sauce)

¾ cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
½ cup rice vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup bonito flakes
¼ cup fresh yuzu juice, or more to taste
1 tablespoon grated yuzu zest, if available
Combine the mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, yuzu zest and bonito flakes in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and let cool. Pour the sauce through a strainer into a bowl; discard the bonito flakes. Add the yuzu juice.
Store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

 image from white on rice couple ….where there is also an amazing looking cocktail recipe using the highly fragrant Yuzu fruit. 

If you want more information about growing citrus at home,you must read Matt Mattus’s story, How to: Growing Yuzu & Other Citrus in the North – with alternative titles : ‘How to Have an Orangerie Even if You Aren’t a Member of a Royal Family’ and ‘Juicy Fruits – The Taste is Gonna Move Ya’. (because some post just deserve multiple titles, ya).  Matt shares a huge variety of information for growing all sorts of citrus fruits indoors and in northern climate  – plus there is a recipe for his Provencal Marmalade.

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  1. The L.A. Times blog had an interesting post last week about Buddha’s Hand, a strangely shaped citrus:

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