Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

Planting Japanese pepper

A curious tree

If you donft know about Japanese pepper, you probably wonft be able to imagine about how itfs grown, if you do however know about Japanese pepper then you would be surprised that it is actually a kind of citrus. It has a slight lemony flavour but often you may not be able to tell, you are more likely to recognize it as a herb. So it is actually a kind of citrus and it come from a tree. The tree usually grows up to around 3m and the tallest youfd be able to find would be around 5m in height (just like the orange trees). The branches have thorns like lemon trees and rose trees and this tree has both female and male strains just like kiwi fruit trees if youfve ever seen them before. It is a very skinny tree, the diameter of the stem is only 5 mm. The green fruits ripen and redden in autumn, they use these fruits as well as buds and leaves to make the pepper.


Sansho (Japanese pepper) trees are grown deep in the bush as they like to be in a place where there is a lot of moisture. However, you must maintain the moisture well otherwise they could easily get diseases.. and also swallow tail type butterflies love eating the sansho fruits so you need a system for controlling that too.


Sansho trees have both female and male strains so remember that only the female strain can get sansho fruits, and of course you need a male strain next to it too. There are unisex strain trees too these days. You can transfer it from a planter to another planter but once itfs on the ground you cannot move it because just a little scratch on their roots could kill the whole tree. It is a very sensitive tree but it grows a lot quicker than being in a planter so move it very carefully.


Harvest time

Harvest time is usually in the Summer for the young green fruits and in the start of the autumn for the ripe fruits, they do use buds too so they are picked in the spring. It takes 20 years to be able to pick sansho fruits if you start from the seed, so usually they use a part trimmed from a tree so that you can get fruits the following year if you maintain it well. But remember, butterflies and caterpillars love these leaves and fruits so they all eat off if you are not careful. Also, they need enough water the whole time and an environment with lots and lots of moisture with some shade.


It will be very difficult to find sansho trees outside of Japan so of course itfs best to buy the finished product! You can go to an Asian supermarket close by in your local area or it depends on the country but you may see one at a normal supermarket in the pepper section if youfre lucky. Have a go and itfs worth checking Amazon and eBay for online shopping too and these days they ship to pretty much anywhere. Itfs a lot healthier than putting a whole lot of rock salt or mayonnaise on your food... so itfs recommended:) Also, itfs a fancy thing to leave on the table when you have lunch or dinner. You can introduce it to your friends and they can all experience something potentially new and hopefully a taste they fall in love with! Of course donft forget to talk about the health benefits and itfs rather sensitive living conditions.


The key health benefits are that firstly it removes fishy smells from fish and strong smells from meat too, secondly it has antiseptic qualities, thirdly, it improves one's appetite and lastly, it has medicinal benefits.


It contains a -Sanshool and sansho amide which stimulates your brain and activates your internal organs. Just recently, in some of the popular TV programs in Japan, Japanese pepper was introduced as a product that is helpful for burning fat in your body!. So it is a great pepper for losing and controlling your weight and it is good for your diet!


It can easily be a daily condiment for anyone who is a fish eater, meat eater, soup eater and a udon noodle lover!

Hard to make but easy to use

Herefs a little idea on how to use sansho pepper in your cooking if youfre not sure how to use it! Try making a delightful little condiment from spring onions.
To make this dish, prepare a skinny spring onion, 1 tsp of sansho pepper, a touch of salt and 1 to 2 tbs of sesame oil. Chop the spring onion up every 5mm to create a collection of finely chopped spring onions and put them into a bowl of water and leave it for 10 minutes. Drain the the water away after ten minutes and add in the sesami oil, a touch of salt and the sansho pepper. Thatfs it, you have a nice little tasty side dish! Of course, you can scale down any of the ingredients in this dish or add more to taste as well to make it to your liking!
The great thing about this is that it can be stored in the fridge for a long time, you could use this as a dipping sauce for sliced carrots or cucumber or perhaps as a marinade for meat or fish together with your main dish. Itfs very easy and super delicious! Sansho trees may take a long time to grow and produce the pepper that we use and they may be very difficult to cultivate but they sure to pack a punch and help out in the kitchen!
Sansho cultivation is an extremely tricky business and itfs no wonder that much of the worlds sansho still comes from the same places, not only does it take a long time to grow the trees, but they also need to be grown in the right location with the right balance of sunshine, shade, light and moisture. Whoa, what a challenge, right? Well, fortunately, we live in a world of mass production and you can just ship on down to your local Asian supermarket and pick some up! It is interesting to know about this wonderful tree though and the process of creating this wonderful finished product.