Miyazaki’s “summer” fruit is actually best enjoyed in spring

The following is an article that was written by one of your fellow MAJETers. It was published in AJET Connect Magazine’s April 2015 issue.
It is posted here with the author’s permission and some extra pix 😉.

 

If you’ve ever visited southern Kyushu, but especially if you’ve visited Miyazaki, you’ll no doubt have seen the vibrantly yellow omiyage boxes on display at the train and bus stations. Miyazaki has a few claims to fame when it comes to food, including apple mangoes and charcoal grilled chicken, but its shining star is without question the hyuganatsu. Mangoes are incredibly expensive and the chicken takes a special hand to get just right, but hyuganatsu are readily available at any grocery store, if not your neighbour’s garden. So what is the story behind this citrus, seen suspended like little suns across the orchards of southern Kyushu?

The fruit’s name comes from Hyuga 日向国, the historic name of Miyazaki and natsu 夏, meaning summer. The first seedling was discovered by chance in 1820 by the Yasutaro family in their garden in Miyazaki City. The fruits that this tree produced were much too acidic to be marketed, but the golden fruit’s promise spurred further breeding with similar wild trees. That first seedling grew into a tree that would be designated a natural monument in 1935, but sadly, was heavily damaged by a typhoon in 1949 and, after years of recovery efforts, perished in the autumn of 1959. By the early 1970s, however, grafting and pollination tests were proving successful and, gradually, became the beloved fruit that we now know.

how to choose

Avoid scratches and discolored parts on the surface.
Choose shiny and bright yellow fruits.
When you hold the fruit in your hand, it should feel heavily packed and firm with juice.

Today’s Hyuganatsu have retained their original sourness with an added, modest level of sweetness. Their fresh aroma is reminiscent of grapefruits and lemons and the fruit itself is believed to be a mutation of yuzu or a hybrid between yuzu and pomelo. What sets hyuganatsu apart is that unlike other citrus – most notably the grapefruit – the white flesh under the peel (mesocarp) can be eaten as is! It is fluffy in texture and not at all bitter.

IMG_5858Hyuganatsu season in Miyazaki begins at the end of January, when you’ll start to see the fruits filling out their carefully attached protective paper bags, piques in March, and tails off in April. The various products that are made from the fruit go on sale from April to December.

 

How to Eat Fresh Hyuganatsu

Peel off the yellow rind to expose the fluffy and edible, white mesocarp.

Slice the fruit, leaving lots of fluffy white skin on top.
Enjoy it on its own, with some sugar lightly sprinkled on top if you have a sweeter tooth, or lightly dip your fruit into soy sauce as though it were sashimi!

 

Other Ways to Enjoy Hyuganatsu

  • Squeeze out the juice!
    – drink it as a fruit juice – alone or as part of a blend
    – for cocktails or to make fruit wine
    – to finish salad dressings and other sauces
    – incorporate it into desserts such as sorbet, pudding, and jelly
  • Both the fruit and its peeled skin can be enjoyed in salads
  • Peel the skin, cut the flesh into blocks and add them to boiling water to remove any trace of sour flavor. If you like, add some sugar or maple syrup to the water to further enhance their sweetness! Then, dehydrate the fruit pieces, as you would persimmon or mango. Finally, coat them in melted chocolate, let the chocolate re-harden, and remember to pace yourself as you enjoy these tasty treats!
  • Add small pieces to your gyoza for a citrus kick
  • Make marmalade using the rind

 

Photos by Larissa Milo-Dale and Julian Novales Flamarique

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