Japanese sake is famous for its complex and varied aroma, with differing fragrances and notes that are key in setting each brew apart from one another. The utilization of Japanese fruit in summer sake is very popular in Japan, yet western society knows very little about the origins or differences the fruit has from its more mainstream Western counterparts. It's time to shed some light on three of the more popular Japanese fruits in summer sake, Yuzu [hybrid citrus], Ume [plums], and Ichigo [strawberry].
Yuzu is a Japanese lemon that is highly valued for its aromatic rind. Believed to have originated one thousand years ago in China, it is now incredibly sought after and a very expensive yet important staple of Japanese cuisine. Yuzu is unique due to the fact that it is one of the few citruses in the world that can maintain its tart at high cooking temperatures. Slightly smaller than a pool ball, Yuzu is incredibly tart and fragrant with a positively pungent aroma. Rarely eaten on its own, Yuzu is more popularly used as a souring ingredient through its juice and zest. Interestingly enough, Yuzu is used for its citrus aroma in Japanese bathing rituals, the most important one being during Toji [the winter solstice].
Ume, also known as Japanese plums are an extremely tart and bitter fruit and are not meant to be eaten raw. Only a plum in name, Ume is actually a member of the apricot family with a size that resembles a yellowish-green golf ball. Originating in China, Ume has become very popular in Japan, and is most widely known for Umeboshi [pickled plums] and Umeshu [Japanese plum wine]. The oldest Japanese record of pickling Ume plums is from a medical text over a thousand years ago, when they were utilized to treat various illnesses and provide sustenance to the samurai during the Middle Ages. To be clear, Ume plums are incredibly acidic and salty and should therefore only be used in moderation. Our Waka No Megumi Ume and Mango sake blends hand-picked famous Kishu Nanko Ume [plums] with only the very best mango to produce a wonderful sake liqueur.