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Buntan & Konatsu - The Rise of Japanese Citrus

The Land of the Rising Sun is an island paradise blessed with the most diverse, exotic citrus fruit. Citrus trees are everywhere you look and they decorate the landscape with their colourful round fruit, shiny leaves and delicate aroma. When it comes to Japan and citrus, most people’s minds first jump to yuzu. However, there are also many other types of citrus produced by Japan and we will cover them here.

Citrus fruits are a delicious addition to a healthy diet and I was interested to discover that the mild acidity of Japanese citrus found its way into Japanese cooking. Utilising citrus allows for a different style of cooking and can be incorporated to help with the creation of light and healthy meals. I began to wonder whether I could take ideas from this style of cooking and utilise it in the development of cocktails. Could delicious cocktails be made by incorporating Japanese citrus?

I did a little research about the diverse and acidic wonder fruits that were available, and I found ponkan (tangerine), buddha’s hand, daidai, dekopon, kinkan, sudachi, amanatsu, buntan in addition to yuzu.

As mentioned in an earlier article, yuzu has a beautiful bouquet and high level of acidity which somewhat resembles sweet mandarins. It is a highly regarded fruit used in Japanese cuisine but is hardly ever eaten on its own. By contrast, buntan and konatsu are frequently enjoyed as snacks.

Buntan is one of the largest citrus fruits with a high level of sweetness similar to pomelo and orange with a gentle bitterness and low acidity. I found buntan to be a great candidate for juicing, cooking into marmalade and for eating on its own. The juice is lovely, easy to drink and adds just the right amount of fruitiness and acidity to cocktails.

Konatsu in Japan, is also known as a Hyunganatsu and has a lovely sweet and fluffy white pith as well as a sweet and sour aftertaste. It reminds me of bitter orange and what I love particularly is the peel that works really well in infusions.You have to try it.

Both, konatsu and buntan are very well regarded fruits and I strongly believe that that bartenders could increase their use of these ingredients. Just think of all the possibilities, especially if multiple citrus fruits are mixed to bring different layers of acidity. Love it!

Buntan Lemonade

40 ml Buntan Juice 25 ml Vanilla Syrup (2:1) 10 ml Lemon juice

  1. Top up with Soda water.

  2. Combine all ingredients in a glass over ice, gently stir and garnish with an orange slice and serve.

Note: You can replace the soda water with tea cooked/ brewed with light flavours. This will also be great as a cold brew tea.

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