It is not just yuzu; the very best are called Misho yuzu. There is a popular description in Japan which tells how long it takes typically for some trees to bear fruit after planting their seeds. “Momo, Kuri San’nen; Kaki Hachinen. Yuzu no Oobaka Juhachinen.; translated: “It takes three years for peach and chestnut trees to bear fruit from seeds, and persimmon tree, eight years. When it comes to slow-growing yuzu , it is eighteen years”. It takes amazing patience for yuzu farmers to harvest their first crop.
To reduce the time many farmers today take a shortcut by grafting a baby yuzu plant to other cisrus tree. However, yuzu harvested from grafted trees have a kind of diluted, poor flavor and aroma. Misho yuzu is the real yuzu from a tree laden with fruit after eighteen or so year of waiting. Farmers, who are lucky enough to have inherited trees from their previous generations (this is in the most common case), possess tremendous pride in their fruit. The good news is that even one hundred years old trees continue to produce gorgeous fruit. If you are planning to plant yuzu seeds, please have a long term plan in mind ….think of your succeeding generations. And according to one Misho yuzu farmer tree bears flowers and fruit only every other year, requiring even more patience from the farmer. This one year hibernation period may be responsible for the tree’s longevity. At this time of the year (it is mid October, but still quite warm here in Japan) the yuzu fruit is still dark green color. By the middle of November the fruits turn to gorgeous golden yellow. Its highly aromatic flavor is released from the rind and juice, and is used as a garnish and flavoring in many preparations that are the highlight winter dishes.
One more note: Yuzu branches are covered with thorny needles like a rose stem. You can see it from this photo – a growing branch with long needles. Farmers who harvest fruits must do so with utmost caution to avoid being stung.