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Hyuganatsu are a medium-sized, round citrus fruit. They have a small bump on one end, making them easy to peel. Each fruit grows to an average diameter of 8 to 10 centimeters, and weighs around 7 ounces. The outer skin is a vivid yellow in color, and is rough and thick, much like that of an orange. The flesh of the Hyuganatsu is fragrant, releasing the aroma of lemon and grapefruit once the fruit is cut or peeled. The inner flesh is made of numerous juicy sacs, which are encased in a thick, spongy white pith. Hyuganatsu has a distinct sweet-sour flavor with a pleasant acid bite, and notes of Mandarin orange and honey. Each fruit may contain several white, hard seeds.
Hyuganatsu are available in the spring months.
Hyuganatsu is a Japanese citrus fruit botanically classified as Citrus tamurana. They may be referred to as New Summer oranges. They are believed to be a naturally occurring hybrid of yuzu and pomelo. Hyuganatsu are eaten along with the pith, which is not bitter at all, and which help to balance out any sourness the fruit has. The fruit can be hollowed out, and the fragrant shell used as an attractive casing for jellied desserts, which are known in Japan as “wagashi”.
Hyuganatsu are rich in vitamins A and C. Preliminary studies have found that they may contain compounds that help inhibit bone loss.
Hyuganatsu are most often eaten fresh. Their outer skin is peeled away to reveal the pith and juicy inner flesh, whose sweetness may be enhanced with a sprinkling of sugar. Hyuganatsu sections can be used sliced into in salads, and its juice can be used in salad dressings. The fruit can also be used to make sorbets, jellies, jams, sake and beer. Store Hyuganatsu in the refrigerator, where they can last for several weeks.
All citrus fruit are beloved in Japan, whose farmers carefully cultivate all native varieties of fruit. Hyuganatsu is seen as a valuable seasonal fruit, and the first tree that bore Hyuganatsu fruit was declared a national monument in 1935 (it was damaged in a typhoon in 1949, and did not survive). Like other seasonal fruit, Hyuganatsu are used as omiyage, which refers to the Japanese gift-giving tradition in which friends, family and business associates are presented with expensive fruit boxes as a gesture of goodwill and respect.
Hyuganatsu are primarily grown in Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu, Japan, where they were first found in 1820 CE. Although the first Hyuganatsu were considered to be too acidic but over time, growers developed the sweeter Hyuganatsu that exists today. Hyuganatsu were named for the source of their discovery - “Hyuga” is the ancient name for Miyazaki, while “natsu” means “summer” in Japanese. While Miyazaki remains the primary region for growing the fruit, Hyuganatsu are also grown in other parts of Japan and may be sold under the names of Konatsu and Tosakonatsu.