Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How a New Jersey Family Grows and Sells Yuzu to Michelin-Starred Restaurants — Vendors

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- The yuzu is an exclusive product.

It's five to 10 times the price of a regular lemon.

- But the money that it costs is well worth it.

The original thought process of growing yuzu

was just for ourselves because we fell in love with it.

From there, we had a really dumb idea.

We said, you know what?

Let's try to sell it

to some of the local restaurants in Princeton.

The first thing we thought about was

the fancy restaurant called Elements.

- They loved it. - They absolutely loved it.

- Yeah, they wanted more.

- Then an idea sparked in our head

that it makes sense probably to grow

this on a commercial level and provide exotic citrus

to chefs in restaurants

and breweries in the tri-state area.

- So, Scott's gonna be breaking down the hamachi

and we're gonna be taking all the collars off.

(hand banging)

Doing a fried fish, citrus is pretty important

and we decided to do a yuzu and a little bit of sudachi

and we marinate them in a smoked buttermilk,

a kosho that we make with citrus, as well as our chilies.

And we'll just let that sit there for

probably about 30 minutes.

And then we'll start dredging them.

(oil sizzling)

I'm just gonna grate in some zest, right on it.

(soft upbeat music)

- [Vivek] Yuzu is actually a hybrid between mandarin orange

and a ichang papeda.

- [Seema] In Japan, yuzu has been growing

for thousands of years on mountain slopes

around the area of Kuji City.

The trees are old and barks that are about this thick.

They left to the elements.

The ground around the trees is littered with falling yuzu.

When we saw that we were really shocked.

For us, that was wasted.

- In the winter, the temperatures can go down

quite substantially.

However, that's what the yuzu really likes.

And that's what gives the yuzu its flavor.

- So, I'm just cutting the tops off for yuzu cups.

This is probably one of the first dishes

we ever ever did with the yuzu marmalade.

That's made with the yellow yuzu.

The custard in.

And then we take a meringue

that's made with our yuzu juice.

And we'll just put a little bit of fresh juice right on top.

- The first time we encountered yuzu

was about 20 years ago in New York City.

Went to some fancy restaurants

and absolutely fell in love with the yuzu.

So we were looking for the yuzu

and finally tracked it down

at an Asian grocery store in Northern Jersey.

Brought it home and made the hamachi with yuzu soy

with the jalapeno and said, yeah, this is going to be good.

(chuckling) So we really had a good time.

We were left with a lot of seeds

and I told Seema, you know what, honey, what do you lose?

Literally in four weeks

we had these little saplings of yuzu

and said to ourselves, see Seema, I told you.

- We'll have yuzu trees in no time.

- Yeah, exactly, we'll have it in four weeks.

We kept bringing these plants in in the winter.

Taking it out in the summer.

And this nonsense went on for 12 years.

- We've always hopeful, right?

Every year we would be like,

oh, is it going to be this year now?

Now they'll flower, now they'll flower.

- The lack of knowledge actually kept us going.

- Going with it. - That was the key.

- We had decided year 12 was the last year.

I think the trees heard us

and they put out flowers to save their own lives possibly.

And then the fruit set, we had fruit

and that was so exciting, we had our own yuzu.

I think we bought hamachi that year everyday.

Just so we could use the yuzu.

Spent so much money on that --

- Hamachi. - Hamachi, I tell you.

It was crazy.

We'll actually move to the trees at the back --

- Which are the original ones.

- Which are literally the original trees

and be careful of the thorns, there are plenty of them.

You don't want to get yourself scratched.

- Well, you can get scratched.

Don't let it scratch your camera.

- (laughing) So, the best way to describe it is

like literally these are our like firstborns, you know?

So, they're extra special to us.

15 years ago we had about nine trees.

And now we are left with two trees originally from seed.

- We realized very quickly

that if we had to bring any scale to our operation,

we couldn't be growing things from seed.

So we had to learn how to graft.

- So most citrus trees you will see

will have a bump at the bottom.

And if it has a bump

that means it is definitely grafted from bud wood.

A, it provides the cold hardiness that we really need.

And B, it feels like you can actually get

some of the flavors of the trifoliate orange.

So, this is our conventional yuzu.

What I'm trying to do is find a branch

that has a lot of buds on it.

All we are going to do is get these leaves off.

So this is the bud that will actually be transplanted

from the yuzu onto a host plant

which is the trifoliate orange.

So this is a trifoliate orange, which is three years old.

My daughter who's the expert

is actually going to do some grafting for us.

I'm going to be using the T-budding method

to graft on this tree.

So here, I'm going to make an upside down T cut

and I'm use a backside of this knife

just to open the graft at the cambium layer.

So this is the bud

that my dad brought in from the yuzu tree outside.

I'm gonna take this bud right here

and I'm going to cut up right at the cambium layer.

And I'm just going to insert it so

that it's sticking to the tree where I made the cut.

So now I'm going to take a piece of budding tape

and I'm going to tie it really tight around the graft

so it retains the moisture that was from the air.

- You know, I started doing this on my own

but she developed such a fascination for this.

And she's so good that I just told her, honey, go ahead.

And you just do it from now on.

- We do it three to four times per tree

just to maximize the chances

of the tree actually taking and becoming a yuzu tree.

- Survival of the fittest.

That's how it works in citrus.

So this is a yuzu that was grafted about eight weeks ago.

- This is where the grafts coming out from.

The original tree that we grafted on is trying to come back.

So normally what we do is we just take a pair of scissors

and we just cut that off just so that the tree's main focus

is on growing the graft

and not on growing itself, essentially.

- This is the next phase of grafting.

At this stage, you can pretty much comfortably say

that yes, the graft has taken.

So the extra growth that Simran was talking about

which is from the tree itself can be removed.

And then this graft can be cut off.

And now the entire tree is going to grow from here.

So this tree will go out for the spring, summer and fall.

Come back in for the winter.

And hopefully in three years,

we'll have beautiful yuzu on it.

Because of the extreme weather

that we have in the Northeast,

we are guaranteed to lose at least 20 to 30% of these trees.

That's the reason why we have so many

because they're just not going to make it.

Hopefully it moves from this to those right over there.

- This is a prime example of how

a regular yuzu tree looks at this time of year.

Most of the fruit is turning yellow.

It's ready for harvest.

- Today we need to bring 30 pounds to James at the Referend.

- I think these are good for James.

He likes them this blue. - Yeah he likes it this color.

This is going to the Referend.

All right, James, here's your 30 pounds,

green and yellow both together.

- Beautiful. - Just the way you like it.

- It takes working with him on the early harvest,

also on the late harvest to know like

what's going to work best with our beer.

- I remember your first call when you said,

"Do you grow citrus?"

I said, yeah, we do. - In New Jersey?

- Yeah, exactly.

- Now we get to zest them. - Yeah, okay.

- So, whenever we get in fruit, it's pretty much

we try to work with it as quickly as possible.

This is much more expensive per pound

than any other fruit that we work with

but it's also that much more potent.

So you don't need as much.

So now we're just going to I think, siphon out into it.

All right, I think it's ready.

I'll add some CO2.

So this is, yeah, just our main spontaneous base beer.

Yeah, the youngest that gets used for.

Two months for it to do the full kind of zest extraction

and give us all the aroma

that we're looking for out of the yuzu.

(hammer banging)

Then we'll rack it into a tank,

blend it back with the older beer and bottle it.

And then post-bottling still another

usually six to 12 months before we'll sell it.

- One of our biggest problem here in New Jersey

is the amount of snow we get.

We've lost about six or seven trees.

With snow sitting on them

just doesn't help the trees at all.

- The fact that we have just recently grafted this tree

we'll probably want to move this in first

so that it gets protected from the weather.

They've got hooked up to this watering system

that we have developed.

We have hundreds of these emitters.

There's a spray that comes out on a timer.

Within a month, all the yuzu and all other citrus

that we have, everything will be in this room.

If we didn't have this greenhouse, we didn't have this room,

this project would fall flat on its face.

- Because of the milder temperatures inside

the trees also start flowering earlier,

which just is spectacular. - It's spectacular.

- The whole greenhouse is going to be filled with citrus

blossoms and so fragrant. - Very fragrant.

- It's a pleasure to just be in this room at that time.

- Growing yuzu is part of the challenge.

The other half of the challenge

is actually selling the yuzu.

- It's always nice to give chefs fruit with leaves.

Presentation is extremely important.

- Very early on we realized

that in the food and beverage industry

there's a lot of touching, feeling,

using that goes into selling.

When somebody uses your product

is when they want more of it.

- Hi, Chef Joe. - Hello.

- Here's some yuzu from our farm.

- This is picked for you this morning.

- We're so excited about this.

Thank you so much.

Look how beautiful that is too.

Even the leaves alone we could use for garnish,

it's very nice.

We've got to take the mask down through this, guys.

It's beautiful.

Whenever we have somebody that wants to typically sell it

to us we say put it in our hands

so we can see what we're working with.

- It's a sense of instant gratification to us

that all that effort was really worth it, you know.

- The reaction on your face --

- You guys are the--

- Right now we're looking to

change one of our fish dishes, the crudo,

so I think yuzu would be perfect for it.

Probably look to have about, you know,

five to seven pounds a week.

- Okay. - For what we'd be using.

- We should be able to give it to you

till the end of January for sure.

- Yuzu is the king of the citrus,

I think we would all agree on in the chef world.

Anytime that I think of raw fish,

the first thing that comes to mind is citrus, in general.

But typically I'll think of yuzu.

It's not quite like a standard, isn't a lemon or a lime.

It's kind of like in between both

with the hint of like sweetness from an orange.

So, this is fermented farro.

I think it's going to pair very well with the yuzu

and we're going to use both the zest and the juice.

And I think yuzu is also a very typical ingredient nowadays.

It's not hard to find, but it is hard to find something

that's coming in your backyard.

So that's a win-win on flavor

and also on, you know, the environmental impact.

So typically when we're trying out a dish,

you know, we'll get a few mouths to try it.

I always trust Justin here.

And we'll kind of evaluate and go from there.

- Really fresh.

- Citrus is great, no?

- Yeah, fresh, beautiful.

- One of the reasons we even got the impetus

to move forward with trying to commercialize

was I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

It makes you realize

that you don't have the time that you think you do.

So, for the longest time, our conversations were,

should we sell the yuzu to the restaurants?

And then after my diagnosis and treatment,

when I was back up on my feet,

I think our reaction was, okay, we just got to try it.

That was a big reason

for even considering something as crazy as

trying to grow yuzu here in New Jersey.

Ready for pickup.

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