Citron

Citron
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Botanical Name:Citrus medica L.
Family: Rutaceae
Sub-family: Aurantioideae.
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales
Genus: Citrus
Species: C. medica
Common Names: Citron,Citron Melon,Preserving Melon,Stock Melon,Corsican Citron,Diamante Citron,Ethrog,Leghorn Citron

Other Names:Media, Median Apple,Persia or Assyria. The citron has many similar names in diverse languages, e.g. cederat, cedro, etc. Most confusing are the Czech, French, Dutch, Yiddish and Scandinavian languages, in which the false friend “citron” refers to the fruit which is called lemon in English. The French name for citron is “cédrat”.

Habitat:The Citron’s place of origin is unknown but seeds were found in Mesopotamian excavations dating back to 4000 B.C.
Spaniards probably brought the Citron with other Citrus species to St. Augustine in Florida but it survived there only in greenhouses. Today the Citron is grown in southern Florida only occasionally as a curiosity. Citron trees are not uncommon in some of the Pacific Islands but are rare in the Philippines.
(Morton, J. 1987. Fruits of Warm Climates.)

Description:-
Citron is a slow-growing shrub or small tree reaching up to 15 ft (4.5 m) in height with stiff branches and twigs and spines in the leaf axils.
The evergreen leaflets are leathery, lemon-scented, ovate-lanceolate or ovate elliptic. The flower buds are large and white or purplish. The fragrant flowers have 4 to 5 petals and they are pinkish or purplish with 30 to 60 stamens. The fruit is fragrant, oblong or oval and very variable even on the same branch. The peel is yellow, usually rough and bumpy and very thick. The pulp is pale-yellow or greenish divided into as many as 14 or 15 segments, firm, not very juicy, acid or sweet and contains numerous seeds.
(Morton, J. 1987. Fruits of Warm Climates.)

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Cultivation and uses:-
The citron fruit is slow-growing. The citron tree is typically grown from cuttings that are two to four years old; the tree begins to bear fruit when it is around three years old. The fruit is oblong in shape, and sometimes as much as six inches in length. Its skin is thick, somewhat hard, fragrant, and covered with protuberances; the pulp is white and subacid.

In Pliny’s time the fruit was never eaten (it began to be used in cooking by the early 2nd century), but its intense perfume was used, penetrating clothes to repel noxious insects (compare Citronella).

In Hebrew, the citron is known as the etrog (Hebrew: ???????). It is one of the Four Species used during the holiday of Sukkot each fall. The role of the citron in that holiday was portrayed in the Israeli movie Ushpizin. Citrons that have been bred with lemon (in order to increase output per tree and make the tree less fragile) are not kosher for use as part of the Four Species.

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In South Indian cuisine, especially tamil cuisine, citron is widely used in pickles and preserves. In Tamil, the unripe fruit is referred to as ‘narthangai’, which is usually salted and dried to make a preserve. The tender leaves of the plant are often used in conjunction with chili powder and other spices to make a powder, called ‘narthellai podi’, literally translating to ‘powder of citron leaves’. Both narthangai and narthellai podi are usually consumed with thayir sadam.

In Korea, it is used to create a syrupy tea (called Yuja cha) where the slices of whole fruit are eaten with the sweet tea. The fruit is thinly sliced (peel, pith and pulp) and soaked or cooked in honey or sugar to create a chunky syrup. This syrupy candied fruit is mixed with hot water as a fragrant tea, where the fruit at the bottom of the cup is eaten as well. Often perserved in the syrup for the cold months, Yuja tea served as a source of fruit in winter.

Food Uses:
The most important part of the Citron is the peel, which is a fairly important article in international trade.
The candied peel is sun-dried or put up in jars for future use. Candying is done mainly in England, France and the United States. The candied peel is widely employed in the food industry, especially as an ingredient in fruitcake, plum pudding, buns, sweet rolls and candy. In Guatemala, Citron is used as flavoring for carbonated soft drinks. In Malaya, Citron juice is used as a substitute for the juice of imported, expensive lemons. A product called “Citron Water” is made in Barbados and shipped to France for flavoring wine and vermouth.
In Spain, syrup made from the peel is used to flavor unpalatable medical preparations. If the citron lacks flavor, a few orange or lemon leaves can be added to the syrup
(Morton, J. 1987. Fruits of Warm Climates.)

Indigenous Practices:
Chinese and Japanese people prize the Citron for its fragrance. It is a common practice in central and northern China to carry a ripe fruit in the hand or place a fruit in a dish on a table to perfume the air of a room.
The dried fruits are put with stored clothing to repel moths. In southern China, the juice is used to wash fine linen.
In some of the South Pacific islands a fragrant oil call “Cedrat Petitgrain Oil” is distilled from the leaves and twigs of Citron trees for the French perfume industry. The flowers have also been distilled for essential oil however this oil has limited use in scent manufacturing.
Branches of the Citron tree are used as walking sticks in India. The wood is white, hard and heavy, and of fine grain. In India, it is also used for agricultural implements.
(Morton, J. 1987. Fruits of Warm Climates.)

Medicinal Uses:
In ancient times and in the Middle Ages, the “Ethrog” was employed as a remedy for seasickness, pulmonary troubles, intestinal ailments and other disorders.
Citron juice with wine was considered an effective purgative to clean the system of poison. In India, the peel is a remedy for dysentery. The distilled juice is given as a sedative. The candied peel is sold in China as a stimulant, expectorant and tonic. In West Tropical Africa, the citron is used only as a medicine, against rheumatism. In Malaya, a decoction of the fruit is taken to drive off evil spirits. In Panama, they are ground up and combined with other ingredients and given as an antidote for poison. The essential oil of the peel is regarded as an antibiotic.
(Morton, J. 1987. Fruits of Warm Climates.)

Ayurvedic Medicinal Uses:In heart disorders, abdominal colic, Gulma (abdominal tumors), vomiting, nausea, indigestion, haemorrhoids.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.ntbg.org/plants/plant_details.php?rid=703&plantid=2870
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citrus_medica
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_herbs_and_minerals_in_Ayurveda

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