Citron is a large, fragrant, and very ancient, member of the citrus family believed to be native to Southeast Asia.
Unlike lemons and limes, the most usable component of citron is usually the flavedo, or outermost yellow layer of the rind which is highly prized for its fragrance.
The inner rind, or white fleshy pith, is often candied in sugar and marketed under the name succade, where it is one of the Hebrew religious symbols of the Feast of Tabernacles. Lore tells us that citron might have been carried on the Jewish Exodus from Egypt and might possibly have been the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden.
In the Tamil district of southern India citron is one of the popular components of the renowned pickles and preserves of the area.
Tender citron leaves are finely ground, mixed with chilies and additional spices for anthelia podi, or powder of citron leaves, a popular spice.
In Japan and Korea, the entire fruit is cut in to chunks and cooked in honey until syrupy and can be added to hot water to make a fragrant tea.
Fresh citron is not likely to be found in the local supermarket, but citrus farmers sometimes grow citron for harvest throughout the year and will offer the fruit for sale at roadside stands or farmers’ markets. They are most often found during the fall season in a variety of fascinating shapes (Look for the oddly shaped Buddha’s hands for a special treat), but always with a characteristic, long-lasting citrus aroma.
If you are lucky enough to find fresh citron, this is a delicious recipe for citron candied along with lemon, orange, and grapefruit peels. You must follow all the steps to achieve the deliciously sweet result, but this is truly a case where the game is worth the candle.
Lemons are subtropical fruits botanically described as aromatic, leathery-skinned berries with internal segments and juicy pulp. The best lemons are small and bright yellow, but thin-skinned and heavy for their size.
The most interesting growth habit of lemons is that they bloom and ripen concurrently, that is a lemon tree might easily have blossoms, immature, and mature lemons at the same time. A dwarf lemon tree living in a large pot on a sunny patio might produce an almost constant supply of fresh lemons.
Lemon sorbet made in the ice cream freezer exhibits many of the best, most refreshing qualities of lemons. Use the sorbet as an appetizer, dessert, or an intermezzo to rest and clean the taste buds during a rich meal.
Make the sorbet this way:
For 4 cups sorbet, heat 3 cups water, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and 2 tsp grated lemon zest until sugar is dissolved.
* Remove from heat, cool, and chill for at least 2 hours.
* Freeze following ice cream maker’s instructions and serve.
Lemon and citron are members of the citrus family with many characteristics and qualities in common. Both bring the senses alive with bright, fresh flavors to enhance almost any cuisine.