Parties, performances, weddings, gatherings of any kind – whatever I’m invited to, one simple question determines my attendance: will there be free food? I’ve caught cross-country flights on the promise of a nice hors d’oeurves spread, and I’ve turned down invitations to soirees a block from my house because catering wasn’t guaranteed. For a guy like me, then, the biggest perk of working in the JANM Store is the opportunity to taste-test our food products before we put them out for sale. Of all the treats that have touched my tongue in my tenure at the store, like our Shiso Dressing and or our Yuzusco Sauce, none has been so eye-poppingly delicious as Hikari Foods’ Organic Yuzu Spread.
The Organic Yuzu Spread’s simple ingredient list of Yuzu citrus grown in Tokushima Prefecture and organic grape juice belies its complex flavor. On the fateful day I had my first taste of the spread, what hit me first was the sweetness of the grapes. This flavor was soon joined by the star of the spread, the sharp tangy yuzu citrus aroma.
Having not tasted yuzu before, I found it somewhere between the bitterness of a grapefruit, with a contrasting note of mandarin orange-like sweetness. What stuck with me the most, however, and moved the spread from a fun nibble to a must-eat, was the zesty yuzu rind aftertaste. This was a truly incomparable flavor which an almost clarifying effect on my sinuses – something I’d never felt from a jam or jelly! My taste test confirmed not only that we should stock it, which we did, but that it would fly off the shelves – which it has. During the holiday, when the warm yuzu aroma was most in demand, I could barely grab a jar for myself to take home to the family, where it was a hit.
As a spread, the Yuzu Spread’s has the sweet tanginess of a marmalade, but a much smoother texture, almost like a jelly. I spread it on a savory cracker for an afternoon pick-me-up, whereas my mother prefers it on toast, to accompany her morning cup of tea. I know others spread it on muffins and scones, and it can even be used as a flavoring for beverages or in baking, to give whatever you’re making that additional yuzu kick. Hikari’s Yuzu Spread tastes like nothing else, and yet is versatile enough to go with anything. There’s no reason not to have a jar in your cupboard, to diversify your morning routine, or to impress your friends with your worldliness (“Yuzu? You haven’t heard of it? It’s from Japan…”). For my part, being introduced to the Yuzu Spread has made me even more picky when it comes to my social calendar. No you can’t just offer me a free meal, you have to promise me there’ll be yuzu on the table!