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Citrus fruits include lemon, lime, orange, tangerine, key lime, Clementine, grapefruit, kumquat and others. HOW TO SUPREME CITRUS FRUIT
Citrus fruits are native to the southern and southeastern mainland of Asia and the bordering Malayan islands. Their flowers smell sweet and they have five petals that are white and some kinds have purple staining the outer surfaces. The fruits are spherical or egg-shaped and have 8-14 juicy sections containing large, white or greenish seed leaves (cotyledons). These trees are cultivated in orchards or groves and in gardens where the climate and soil are suitable and as greenhouse plants.
Florida and California produce an abundant supply of Citrus fruits. Citrus trees require a minimum winter temperature of 45-50 degrees. I remember growing up in
Low in calories and sodium, and high in vitamin C, these popular fruits were once very rare, given as luxurious gifts on special occasions. Today, buyers source the pick of the crop from Florida, California, Spain and Australia.
When selecting the best quality citrus, remember the "Three T’s" - They’re an indicator of the juicy, sweet taste of citrus.
• Touch: Always select citrus that feels firm and is heavy for its size—that means it is juicy!
• Timing: Once citrus arrives at the supermarket, it is ready and ripe to eat. Although citrus is available all year, the best season for the fresh fruit is January - April.
• Texture: Look for fruit without marks and dents on the peel.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C): is a water-soluble vitamin. It is used in bread making as a dough enhancer.
(1) Citron is a semi-tropical citrus fruit like a lemon, but larger and less acidic. It grows as an irregular, open-headed shrub or small tree with large, light green leaves. The flowers are purple on the outside and are followed by large, oblong or ellipsoid fruits. The peel is very thick and is rough and yellow on the outside and white inside. They were originally grown in Europe out of interest for its fragrant fruits, but later, the white pulp was used raw, being served as a salad or with fish. A method of candying the peel was developed and candied peel is now the main Citron product. This plant is never eaten raw but is harvested for usage of its peel. The plant is soaked in a brine solution to extract the oil, which is used in liqueurs. The peel is then candied. This product is used in many baking dishes and desserts.
(2) Citron (see-TRAWN) - Citron is also the French word for "lemon."
History: This was the first Citrus fruit that was introduced to Europe by the armies of Alexander the Great about 300 BC. It found a suitable home in the Mediterranean region where it has been cultivated from that time to the present. Southern Italy, the island of Corsica and some Greek islands grow nearly all the Citrons.
Citrus Garnishes: Fancy sculpted garnishes can be made with citrus fruit. Instead of wedges, you can garnish with fancy lemon wheels and twists. It requires an inexpensive grooving knife called a canelle. It's used on citrus, mushrooms and cucumbers to make decorative channels (canals). With your canelle, cut equally spaced vertical grooves in the lemon . You can cut the lemons into 1/8"-1/4" slices. You can use the slices as garnish or take it one step further to make lemon twists. Take a wheel and make one cut (rind to center). Then twist the ends in opposite directions.
Citrus Juice: (See also Lemon juice, below) Citrus fruit, such as lemons, oranges and limes, when cut open and squeezed, provides a useful liquid. Can fresh orange and lemon juice be frozen at home? Fresh squeezed lemon and Valencia "summer" orange juice may be frozen for up to four months. Navel oranges contain a component that turns the juice bitter when frozen, so it is not recommended.
SARAH SAYS: To get more juice from citrus fruits, such as lemons or oranges, microwave them on high power for 10 seconds. Remove and lightly roll the fruit on the counter while pressing down. This loosens up the juice and you will get more from it.
Citrus (Candy) Oils: When I don't have fresh citrus peel or zest handy, I use pure citrus (candy) oils. These are powerful natural essences cold pressed from citrus rinds and are dispersed in oil. They come in orange, lime or lemon flavors, and others, such as tangerine ! Don't confuse them with citrus-flavored salad oils.
I often substitute the citrus peel or zest with a total of 1/4 teaspoon pure citrus oil PER recipe. Take care not increase the amount because the concentrated oils are intense. When mixing drinks, you can also use a drop instead of using a squeeze of citrus juice. I use them for cooking, as well; use a drop to flavor sauces for poultry or in dips.
To store the oil, wrap the bottle in aluminum foil and refrigerate it, where they will keep indefinitely. Sunlight and warm temperatures can reduce the oil's flavor.
Citrus Zest or Peel: Is minced citrus peel, without the white pith.
Grapefruit: Tart and tangy with an underlying sweetness, grapefruit is as juicy as oranges and has some of the health promoting benefits, such as being an excellent source of Vitamin C. Among some of the other benefits are the rich pink and red colors of grapefruit are due to lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient. Concord (red) grapes came out on top with the highest and broadest range of polyphenols and the highest overall antioxidant capacity. Other top scorers were cloudy apple juice, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice.
Although available throughout the year, they are in season and at their best from winter through early spring. Grapefruits usually range in diameter from four to six inches and include both seed and seedless and pink and white varieties. The wonderful flavor of a grapefruit is like paradise as is expressed by its Latin name, Citrus paradisi.
Lemons: Citric acid is the main acid in lemons. "Some lemon varieties are more acidic than others. Lemons of a single variety can vary in acidity depending on the local soil and climate, the rootstock on which the tree is growing, the amount of fertilizer applied, and the season in which the lemons were picked. Lemons and other citrus fruits grown in hotter places, for example, are generally less acidic than those grown in cooler places. Both potassium and nitrogen fertilizers tend to increase acidity levels. New Zealand lemons are less acidic than California lemons, and California lemons are less acidic than Sicilian lemons." (from a Gardeners' Table, 5-29-2013)
Lemon Juice: To prevent darkening, dip bananas and other fruit in freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Meyer Lemon: A cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, the Meyer lemon has smooth golden skin the color of a fresh egg yolk. It also has a thin edible rind, a high volume of juice and none of the tartness of a regular lemon.
The Meyer Lemon Tree is named for Frank Meyer. He brought it to the United States from China in 1908 while working for the USDA. The tree became very popular and was widely grown until a virus that attacked Meyer Lemon Trees was discovered in the mid-1940s. Meyer Lemon Trees were banned in the United States in an effort to insure the safety of other lemon varieties from the virus. A new version of the Meyer Lemon Tree was developed that was virus-free and it was reintroduced in 1970. Since that time, the Meyer Lemon has become a favorite for the home grower. This variety is especially sweet and succulent. The Meyer Lemon has a thin skin and does not survive shipping well. As a result, the Meyer Lemon is not widely grown by commercial lemon growers.
A Photo of Kelly's Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree.
KELLY CA SAYS: It is a mere 4 1/2 feet tall and it must have at least 100 beautiful lemons on it right now.
If you have never had Meyer Lemons, you are really missing out! They are sweeter than grocery store lemons and have a wonderful complex flavor.