Easy Yuzu Liqueur (Yuzu Shu) Recipe

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By Barbara Hodge • Last Updated: December 25, 2023
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Easy Yuzu Liqueur

Delicious yuzu liqueur made at home. Serve yuzu’s powerful aromatic fragrant liqueur at a dinner party, and watch everyone’s face light up with joy! Japan’s famous yuzu citrus is so simply transformed in this super refreshing drink.

Yuzu Sake served with glasses, salt and yuzu fruit

Yuzu Liqueur

Yuzu liqueur (Yuzu sake or Yuzu shu) is Japanese citrus alcohol. I’ll show you how to make your very own authentic and delicious yuzu liqueur in just 35 minutes. For best results, you should let it develop for 6 months. So, make it in advance at home!

Yuzu is the increasingly popular Japanese citrus fruit. The fragrance is powerful and aromatic. The taste is often compared to lemon, orange, lime or grapefruit, but nothing really compares to yuzu. This citrus fruit is versatile and can be used for so many recipes – sweet or savory! In fact, Yuzu kosho sauce, Japanese spicy citrus condiment, is something people are fanatical about.

Whether this is your first time in homemade fruit wine making, or you are experienced, try something new today – authentic, homemade Japanese fruit liqueur. If you’re like me, adding something new to your kitchen repertoire will bring you joy. Read on!

making Yuzu Liqueur with yuzu, rock sugar and white liqueur in a glass jar

Why Making Yuzu Liquor at Home?

Have you ever visited Japan before? I had the Japanese citrus yuzu liqueur at a local restaurant in Kyoto’s Pontocho, in Japan. A friend introduced this divine fruit liqueur (yuzu shu). That reminded me my mother’s homemade yuzu liquor. It’s zesty, sweet, fresh and so more-ish!

I’ve tried different yuzu liqueur from the shops, but it was never quite the same. So it was time to make my own! I want to share this divine citrus drink with Andy!

Homemade fruit liqueur is incredibly popular in Japan. I’m going to share the traditional Japanese method from my mother with you. This yuzu liqueur recipe has delighted my childhood neighbors in Japan, as my mother shared it with them when she made some.

There is simply no comparison between homemade yuzu liqueur and shop-bought! Your guests will just love it! Bring something new to the table or your next dinner party. And see what happens!

The best thing is that making yuzu liqueur is so easy. You just layer three ingredients in a large clean glass jar. Your only real job is to find the right ingredients.

Ingredients for Japanese Yuzu liqueur

Where to find yuzu

I know yuzu is not a commonly find ingredient at many grocery stores, but it’s worth the effort. I make this yuzu shu (yuzu sake) with yellow yuzu, which is in season in winter. You can find it from December to February at local Japanese, Asian grocery shops or online.

Yellow and golden yuzu has more the fruit juice than green yuzu. That’s why it’s suitable for homemade liqueur.

The good news is that while it may have been difficult to find in the past, Yuzu is getting super popular. So, keep your eye out for it, and if you stumble upon it, get it without hesitation! This is how I found it.

separating yuzu skin and yuzu fruit for making Yuzu Liquor

The best ingredients for the yuzu liqueur recipe

There are only three ingredients you need to prepare. Yuzu, rock sugar and Japanese shochu are all that’s needed for traditional homemade Japanese fruit wine.

ingredients for making Yuzu Liqueur with yuzu, rock sugar and shochu

White Rock Sugar: Try to find rock sugar at a local Japanese shop or an Asian grocery store. I use beet rock sugar. You can also find it on Amazon. Rock sugar dissolves gradually into liquid, and this is why it brings out the flavor and aromatic fragrance of yuzu. Regular or granulated sugar cannot replace to this magic. You really need the rock sugar.

Yuzu: Look out for yuzu that are ripe and mature with yellow and golden colours. They must have a sweet citrus smell. Yuzu can have some scratches on the skin but that’s OK. This is how they are.

Japanese Shochu: Shochu is a mild, and transparent tasting Japanese white liquor. The brand I use is ‘White Liquor’, which is the Japanese product and works well with this recipe. It’s made by sugarcane and is widely used for traditional homemade Japanese yuzu liqueur. The taste is not as strong as other types of shochu. This means it doesn’t disturb the fragrance and flavor of yuzu.

Where to find Japanese White Liqueur

You can find it at Japanese shops. Make sure it contains more than 35% alcohol. If you cannot find the Japanese White Liquor, vodka (more than 35% alcohol) may work. But it’s worth making the effort to find Japanese White Liqueur.

How to Make Yuzu Liqueur

Homemade fruit wine making is easy. There are only some important steps to follow. I’ll show you how to do it with yuzu step by step. The goal is to layer the three ingredients in a single, large glass jar!

1. Clean the airtight glass jar

An important part of making this homemade fruit liqueur is to clean up the airtight glass jar completely. Your hands need to be properly washed too.

  • Homemade yuzu liqueur can last for a few years if you prepare it right. The glass jar must be completely clean. Do this with a clean kitchen cloth, detergent and warm water. You need to wash the jar thoroughly with warm water to make sure all of the detergent is removed. No one likes detergent tasting drinks!
  • Air dry the jar. Then spray alcohol around the inside of the lid and the jar. You can also soak a clean cotton cloth with alcohol, and wipe it around the lid and the inside of the jar. This is very important, especially if you intend to keep the liqueur for a while. This step ensures that no mold develops.

2. Clean yuzu

process of yuzu cleaning showing in 3 pictures for making Yuzu Liqueur
  • Wash yuzu thoroughly with water, and dry them. It’s very important to dry it out completely inside of the home.
  • Carefully remove the stem ends with a tooth pick.
  • Peel the skin. Remove any of the leftover white membrane of the yuzu skin with a spoon. It’s worth taking the time to do this to avoid bitterness.

3. Make layers

This is the fun part of homemade fruit wine!

making Yuzu Sake yuzu fruit, yuzu skin, rock sugar in the airtight glass jar with shochu
  • Layer the yuzu skin on top.
  • Next layer rock sugar.
  • Then pour in White Liquor or your favorite liquor gradually.
  • Put the lid on tight.
removing yuzu skin from homemade Yuzu Liqueur
  • Remove yuzu skin from the jar after 10 days. Set aside it for another use.
squeesing yuzu fruit for making Yuzu Liqueur (Yuzushu)
  • Remove the fruit three months later, transfer into a clean cotton and squeeze the juice back into the jar.
  • Allow the yuzu shu to develop for six months in total. Store in a dark cool place.

That’s it!

Enjoy!

Yuzu Liqueur (Yuzu Shu) served with two glasses with rock ices on a table

Tips for the best Yuzu Liqueur

How long can you save yuzu liqueur

You can save yuzushu for a few years, although I always finish it well much before then. The important thing to remember is to ensure you clean the glass jar properly, and wipe it with alcohol before making – this ensures it will last.

How to drink yuzu liqueur

Serve yuzu shu at a dinner party as an aperitif. You will enjoy watching peoples faces light up! My favourite is to pour yuzu shu on ice cube in a glass. I cannot stop smiling with this.

What to do with the left over yuzu skin?

You remove yuzu skin 10 days later after you combined all the ingredient in the glass jar. But don’t let it go to waste!

I made red yuzu kosho, the versatile, addictive Japanese condiment everyone is discovering. It can be served with so many savory dishes. It’s… delicious, and will change your life! Check my red yuzu kosho recipe. Or top on the dishes like Yuzu ramen recipe and Yuzu Hot Pot with Tofu.

Yuzu Sake served in the crystal glasses

Can you replace rock sugar to granulated sugar?

Unfortunately not. There is a science behind Japanese traditional homemade yuzu liqueur making.

Yuzu’s components need to be released into the alcohol slowly and surely. If sugar dissolves rapidly before yuzu absorbs the alcohol, the components of the fruit are not released but only the fragrance. (reference)

That’s why you need rock sugar, and I used it for homemade Japanese plum wine too. The rock sugar dissolves into alcohol gradually while granulated or raw sugar dissolves quickly. This is the Japanese secret to Yuzu liqueur making!

Easy Yuzu Liqueur

Yuzu Liqueur Recipe

Barbara Hodge
Delicious yuzu liqueur made at home. Serve yuzu's powerful aromatic fragrant liqueur at a dinner party, and watch everyone’s face light up with joy. Japan’s famous yuzu citrus is so simply transformed in this super refreshing drink.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Japanese, Vegan
Servings 34 ounces

Ingredients
  

  • 17.5 ounces fresh yuzu (500g)
  • 10.5 ounces rock sugar (300g: I use beet rock sugar. If you prefer sugary, add 200g more)
  • 34 ounces White Liquor (1 liter, Japanese shochu or your favorite alcohol over 35% alcohol)

Instructions
 

  • Clean the airtight glass jar needs to be completely cleaned well with a clean kitchen cloth, detergent and warm water. Wash it with warm water to make sure all of the detergent is removed. Air dry the jar. Then spray alcohol around the inside of the lid and the jar. Or soak a cotton cloth with alcohol, and wipe it around the lid and the inside of the jar.
  • Clean yuzu throughly with water, and dry them. Carefully remove the stem ends with a tooth pick. Peel the skin. Remove any of the leftover white membrane of the yuzu skin with a spoon. It’s worth taking the time to do this to avoid bitterness.
  • Make the layer of the ingredients in the clean jar. This is the fun part in making homemade yuzu liqueur. Place yuzu fruit first on the bottom of the glass jar. Layer the yuzu skin on top. Next layer rock sugar. Then pour in White Liquor or your favorite liquor gradually. Put the lid on tight.
  • Remove yuzu skin from the jar after 10 days.
  • Remove the fruit three months later, transfer into a clean cotton and squeeze the juice back into the jar. Allow the yuzu shu to develop for six months in total. Store in a dark cool place.
    Enjoy!

Notes

*Yuzu can be found from December to February at local Japanese or Asian shops. While it may have been difficult to find in the past, Yuzu is getting super popular. So, keep your eye out for it, and if you stumble upon it, get it without hesitation! This is how I found. It surely worth the effort.
**Rock sugar is necessary for this recipe. Granulated or raw sugar cannot replace to it. You can find rock sugar at local Japanese or Asian shops or Anazon.
**I use White Liquor, a brand name, from a local Japanese shop. It’s Japanese shochu and is 35% alcohol. If you are not able to buy it, vodca may work although I have not tried it yet.  

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