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Kabosu fruits are around 2 inches in diameter, and spherical. The rind is smooth or slightly pebbly. The color ranges from lime green to bright yellow when fully ripe, but can be used at any stage. Inside, the light to dark yellow flesh contains some seeds. The taste of kabosu is both sweet and acidic. It has notes of lemon, melon, and mint.
Kabosu lemons are available in the fall.
Kabosu are a relatively rare type of Japanese citrus found only in the Oita prefecture. Although the exact parentage is unknown and they look similar to limes, this fruit is thought to be a cross between a sour orange or mandarin and the Ichang papeda. They are comparable to other Japanese citrus such as the Yuzu fruit and the Sudachi. The botanical name of the Kabosu is Citrus sphaerocarpa.
Kabosus contain substantial amounts of Vitamin C, folate, and potassium, but are low in fat, sodium, and calories. Locals in Oita use Kabosu juice to protect the liver and to stabilize blood pressure.
Kabosus and their juice are used for a surprising number of things, considering their limited geographical extent. They are commonly used as a substitute for vinegar, especially when used to flavor fish. Kabosus can be used for soups, as marmalades, in desserts, and as salad dressing.
Kabosus are primarily known in Japanese cuisine near Oita. In Japan, they are grown fresh commercially and are also sold as bottled juice and other packaged foods. Their uses in Japan go beyond just the edible; some people grow them as ornamental trees, or burn the dried peel as a mosquito repellent.
There is no solid evidence to explain the origin of the Kabosu, but legend says that a doctor from Kyoto brought a tree to the island of Kyushu during the Edo period in Japan. Today, 98 percent of Kabosu production is in the Oita prefecture on the island.
Recipes that include Kabosu Citrus. One is easiest, three is harder.