Looking for a mandarin that is as rare as it is unique, with a plethora of applications that can elevate any dish to the next level? You are looking in the right place! We’ll tell you all about the Sudachi Mandarin—a citrus so highly coveted, it was once reserved for luxury and can still be difficult to find outside of fine dining to this very day.
Read on to learn about the Sudachi mandarin, the best ways to use it in your kitchen, and how to make it part of your home garden.
History of the Sudachi Mandarin
Despite what its name may suggest, the Sudachi Mandarin is not like any other mandarin you would expect to sink your teeth into when you bring it home from the supermarket. And why is that? Well, you would be in for a rather tart, sour surprise, because this mandarin variety actually closely resembles a lime!
With its origins rooted in the Tokushima prefecture of Japan, the Sudachi Mandarin has somewhat of a murky past. For the most part, it is widely believed to be a mutated variety of the Japanese citrus called a “Yuzu”, while others hold that the Sudachi is actually a crossbreed of a mandarin with another, more ancient Japanese citrus fruit known as a “Papeda”.
While neither the Yuzu Citron nor the Papeda hybrid origins have been expressly confirmed, what we do know is that this mandarin variety was once considered a rare luxury in Japan, not to mention the rest of the world—so much that it was at one time only served in high end restaurants!
But as the years have gone on, this delicious and highly sought-after mandarin has become much more prevalent and readily available and can now be enjoyed all year round, particularly in Japan. However, it remains much more elusive here in the west.
Characteristics of the Sudachi Mandarin
Being a cross between a mandarin and a lime, like the Yuzu Citron, the Sudachi Mandarin has a notably tart flavor, sometimes being referred to as a “sour mandarin” for this very reason.
The particular variety of mandarin will start off with a green rind but unlike your typical lime, it will gradually mature into a bright yellow and even in some cases an orange hue if left to ripen on the tree. However, many of these mandarins used in cuisine and dishes remain green, as they are harvested for their potent juice well before they reach full maturity.
What It Tastes Like
In terms of flavor, this mandarin variety is tangy and tart with bursts of sweet and sour notes, and has a finish that is savory, almost considered to be peppery by some. Overall, it is best known for its juice, which harbors all of these flavor profiles as well as hints of dill and lime.
Being of a smaller size than a Yuzu Citron or classic limes, the Sudachi Mandarin also has fewer seeds, and it’s much juicier than your average lime—something owed more to the mandarin side of its heritage.
Sudachi Mandarin Specific
Although its rather assertive flavor profile means that the Sudachi Mandarin is actually not an ideal option for snacking outright, that does not make it any less useful when it comes to culinary applications!
In Japanese cuisine, this mandarin variety can be found often zested or cut into thin wedges to serve as a garnish on certain noodle dishes. Because of its tangy, zesty, refreshing juice, it makes a great finishing component for many dishes, squeezed on top as a generous, savory garnish or used to marinate everything from udon to fried chicken.
In particular, classic Japanese cuisine such as soba, donburi, onigiri, and many soups can benefit from a dash of this mandarin’s potent juice. The juice can also be used in marinades and to season fish and mushrooms. Use Saduchis as substitutes for Yuzus in these dressing recipes.
It can also be used to boost the flavor profile of many drinks, from a simple glass of water to mixers, martinis, and other alcoholic beverages.
It is important to remember that a little goes a long way with this mandarin, so be sure not to overdo it with the amount of juice you add to a dish or drink!
Like many types of citruses out there, the Sudachi Mandarin touts many health benefits for the consumer. The best known would be its high Vitamin C content, as most citrus varieties tend to boast.
In addition, there are quite a few vitamins and minerals that are bioavailable in this mandarin variety (meaning your body can easily absorb them and put them to good use!). These include Vitamins A and E, magnesium, dietary fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, and altogether, a heaping dose of antioxidants.
Because of its high content of antioxidants and other powerful vitamins and minerals, the Sudachi Mandarin can help your body in a wide variety of ways. Consuming Sudachi Mandarin juice and skin regularly will help to lower inflammation throughout your whole body, as well as assist in regulating your blood sugar, decreasing your risk of heart problems, certain cancers, and many chronic health issues, and much more.
The high levels of Vitamin C also help to give a welcome boost to your immune system!
Growing At Home
If you live in the right area to grow the Sudachi Mandarin yourself, this is an opportunity you will absolutely want to take advantage of!
Because Sudachi Mandarin makes a fantastic component to so many citrus-featuring dishes, it can sometimes be hard to find them for sale in supermarkets and grocery stores. Even in areas where they may be grown for commercial use, chefs and restaurants tend to buy them up in bulk, leaving few mandarins to go around for the average consumers.
That is where home growing comes in. If you are in the proper spot to grow a thriving Sudachi Mandarin tree, this will be your best bet to get to enjoy this powerhouse of a citrus.
Ideal Zones for Growing
The Sudachi Mandarin tree can be very sensitive to the climate in which it is being grown, with a cold tolerance only as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so home growing is recommended to be limited to growing Zones 9 through 11—typically called the “sunbelt” of the United States.
Planting and Care Requirements
Your average Sudachi Mandarin tree will grow to a mature height of between 15 to 20 feet tall with a spread width of 4 to 5 feet and needs to be planted in well-drained soil with full sun exposure. The Sudachi Mandarin tree will need moderate watering as it grows—with time to dry out in between watering sessions!—as well as a regular fertilizing schedule; it should be pruned in the late winter.
Do I need more than one tree?
This tree is self-fertile and friendly to all sorts of pollinators; its gorgeous white buds and glossy, ripening fruit actually make it a popular ornamental and landscaping tree as much as it is a popular fruit tree.
Where To Buy The Sudachi Mandarin
For folks simply looking to buy and enjoy a Sudachi Mandarin off the produce rack, you will likely run into some difficulty with sourcing them—your best chance being at certain Asian grocery stores. However, thankfully, Sudachi Mandarin saplings are not so difficult to come by!
Although it is always encouraged to check your local nursery, lawn and garden center, farmer’s market, and other nearby retailers when sourcing a sapling or seeds for your garden, it is a known fact that this mandarin variety may be difficult to find outside of specialty nurseries. Thus, your best bet may be to source them online.
A couple of reputable sellers you may consider sourcing your Sudachi Mandarin sapling from are Nature Hills Nursery—which is a well-known brand—and Four Winds Growers, another great and highly reviewed resource.
Bring Luxury to Your Garden With the Sudachi Mandarin
Are you excited about the prospect of growing your own Sudachi Mandarin tree and enjoying as much of this unique citrus hybrid as you so desire? Excited for more orange content? Check out our orange trees page to start learning everything there is to know about your favorite citrus!