Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Kabosu Juice Oita Prefecture

Oita Kabosu Juice 大分カボスジュース

Kabosu fruit on a tree.
Kabosu fruit on a tree

Kabosu are a southern Japanese citrus fruit, closely related to yuzu. While yuzu, however, are most popular for their peel, kabosu are famous for their juice.

Kabosu juice is essentially used for the same purposes as lemon juice but it has a much stronger acidity and a rich unique aroma - much richer than the mass-produced Californian lemons commonly available at Japanese supermarkets. Thus, people in Kyushu, Japan's main southern island, clearly prefer the kabosu over imported lemon. In many cases, they also replace vinegar with kabosu juice.

Kabosu Fruits

Kabosu fruits grow on evergreen trees sporting sharp thorns. The harvest season is from about late August to early October, depending on the area.

Kabosu are generally harvested while being green and thus unripe - this is the time when their flavor is the best. Kabosu can already be used to full effect in their green state. When stored, kabosu fruits then turn into a bright yellow.

A box of Oita kabosu.
A box of Oita kabosu

Oita Kabosu

While you can find the occasional kabosu tree successfully growing fruits even in the Chichibu Mountains close to Tokyo, the main area for kabosu is Kyushu, and there specifically Oita Prefecture in the northeast of the island.

Oita Prefecture has some kabosu trees more than 100 years old, some are said to be 200 or even close to 300 years old. Such old kabosu trees cannot be found anywhere else. This leads some historians to believe that the fruit is an indigenous Oita Prefecture plant.

Today, Oita Prefecture is the main producer of kabosu in Japan, harvesting more than 5,000 tons of the fruits annually, mostly grown in orchards around the ancient cities of Usuki and Taketa.

Bottle of MOHEJI Oita Kabosu Juice.
Bottle of Moheji Oita Kabosu Juice

Oita Cuisine

Kabosu are an integral part of Oita cuisine, replacing lemon in most local restaurants and used in many households as a daily ingredient. As juice or sliced as a garnish on fish dishes. Kabosu juice gets sprinkled over sashimi, kabosu slices are added to some udon noodle soups, kabosu are also used in a wide variety of sweets.

People in Oita also often add kabosu juice to their shochu. Oita shochu like Shitamachi Napoleon, Nishi no Hoshi and Iichiko are famous all over Japan - they are however best with a bit of kabosu juice added to the shot.

In Oita, people pour kabosu juice into ice cube forms and keep it in their freezer - ready for use throughout the year. In short, in Oita, kabosu are part of daily life.

In recent years, dried and powdered kabosu peel has become a popular ingredient in spice mixes such as the Shichimi Togarashi.

The English-language website of the Oita Prefecture Kabosu Promotion Association gives an informative and richly pictured introduction to the manifold uses of kabosu in the region.

Oita Kabosu Juice

Boxes of freshly harvested Oita kabosu are a popular autumn gift in Japan. Outside of Japan, however, kabosu fruits are hard to come by.

Many countries prohibit the direct import of fresh fruits.

Bottled Oita Kabosu Juice however can be shipped worldwide. It's 100% fruit juice without any additives and ready for use in all the ways freshly pressed kabosu juice is used in Oita Prefecture.

Similar to purely pressed lemon juice, it is highly concentrated and cannot be consumed as a drink as such. Just add a little of the juice to a glass of cold sparkling water and you have a refreshingly sour drink for the still pretty hot late summer / early autumn days in Oita and elsewhere. Add a few drops to a hot black tea and you have a great warming winter tea.

Moheji Oita Kabosu Juice

Numerous companies press, bottle, and ship Oita Kabosu Juice. The bottled juice pictured here comes from Moheji, a Tokyo-based company that, according to its website, is active all over Japan and closely cooperating with producers of traditional agricultural products, striving "to create safe, reliable, and high-quality products that bring out the magic of the ingredients and to deliver authentic flavor and the diverse food culture born in every corner of Japan to our many customers."

Moheji Oita Kabosu Juice comes in 150ml bottles. As the juice is highly concentrated, a bottle or two might last for quite some time if used in a regular family setting. Restaurants, of course, will have a much higher demand.

Unopened bottles stay in good condition for about one year. After opening, the bottles should be kept in the refrigerator.

MOHEJI Oita Kabosu Juice.
Moheji Oita Kabosu Juice

Purchase Moheji Oita Kabosu Juice & A Range of Other Foodstuffs From Japan

You can buy Moheji Oita Kabosu Juice directly from Goods from Japan.

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