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Haruka citrus is small to medium in size with an ovate to globular shape. The bright yellow skin is smooth, thick, and pocked with many small, prominent oil glands. There is also a distinct dimple protruding on the non-stem end, and the skin is very fragrant, releasing lemon and grapefruit aromas when cut or peeled. Underneath the skin, there is a layer of spongy white pith that is edible and very sweet in flavor. The flesh is soft, juicy, divided into 10-11 segments by thin membranes, and is pale yellow, encasing a few to many inedible, cream-colored seeds. Haruka citrus is predominately consumed fresh and has a sweet, honey-like flavor.
Haruka citrus is available in the late winter through spring.
Haruka citrus is a natural mutation of the hyuganatsu citrus, which is a hybrid of the pomelo and yuzu and belongs to the Rutaceae or citrus family. Discovered in Japan, Haruka citrus is valued for its sweet, mild flavor and is sold for fresh eating. One unique trait of the Haruka citrus is its edible, sweet pith and the flesh is commonly consumed with the pith still attached to enhance the flavor. Haruka citrus is one of the more rare and unique varieties of Japanese citrus and is localized to select specialty markets in Japan.
Haruka citrus is an excellent source of vitamin A, which can help improve skin and eye health, and vitamin C, which is an antioxidant to help boost the immune system. It also contains some vitamin B1 and beta-carotene.
Haruka citrus is best suited for fresh eating as its pith and flesh are showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand. The sliced flesh can be tossed into salads for added sweetness, or the flesh can be juiced to flavor sauces, dressings, marinades, soups, and sashimi. Haruka citrus can also be incorporated into desserts such as custards and cakes, hollowed out and filled with flavored jelly, or juiced and used to flavor hard, chewy candies. Haruka citrus pairs well with mushrooms, nuts, meats such as poultry, lamb, and fish, other seafood, ginger, carrots, raspberries, and fennel. The fruit will keep for 1-3 weeks when stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Haruka citrus was first discovered in the Ehime prefecture on the island of Shikoku, Japan. The popularity of the fruit remained centralized to the rural, agricultural areas of Ehime before it became recognized for its sweet flavor among specialty markets across Japan. Ehime is known for its citrus and has branded itself with citrus logos and mascots. Throughout the prefecture, there are citrus themed souvenirs, candies, stuffed animals, and food to promote the region and increase tourism. In addition to marketing, citrus is an important flavoring in Japanese cooking, especially in the Ehime prefecture, with over ninety percent of the citrus grown in the country used for fresh applications. The acidity in citrus is believed to impart refreshing flavors to clean eating diets and promote a flavorful, healthy lifestyle.
Haruka citrus was first discovered as a natural mutation of the hyuganatsu citrus in the Ehime prefecture on the island of Shikoku in Japan. Today the citrus is mainly localized to Ehime, but it can be found at specialty markets across Japan. It is also exported through select companies to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.