Saturday, July 24, 2010

Citron, Etrog, or Esrog (Citrus medica)

I was very fortunate to receive a grand gift of a citron (Citrus medica) which is an enormous citrus fruit. It was my first encounter with this citrus giant. Aside from knowing that it grew in the Mediterranean region and was valued by the Romans of antiquity, I had no idea on its usage. I also had heard that it is used ceremonially for Jewish holidays but my Jewish friends had no idea how to incorporate it into any recipes; they had only seen it being used ceremonially to "just parade and wave around" according to Brett and Wendy :D.

Citron at the top
Lower row from left: Lime, Meyer Lemon, Regular Lemon


Since Citron is a rare acquisition, I took a lot of pictures of it. I included the regular lemon (thick rind), the Meyer lemon (thin deep gold rind), and a Tahitian/Persian lime for comparison. At the time I did not have Key limes which are about half as big as the Tahitian limes.

Longitudinal sections
What does one do with citron anyway? I cannot imagine anyone throwing it away. Since it is a close relative of the various types of citrus fruits I have met, I decided to make Indian style hot and spicy pickles with it ;D. Just then, idea #2 popped into my head - perhaps it could also be made into a sweet preserve!

Cross sections
Now, I had 1 citron and 2 ideas; since it was large enough, I divided the citron to make both the recipes. I made hot citron pickles according to the Lemon pickle recipe. For the sweet preserve, I layered the chopped citron with sugar and honey.

Citron has very thick fragrant but somewhat bitter rind with very little flesh; it has plenty of seeds though. As you can see from the pictures, this particular specimen had a tiny amount of flesh. Since it was pretty much on the dry side, I used the juice from all the lemons and limes that I had cut up for making the pickles and preserves. Both the ideas worked well and I got some tasty pickles and preserves too :P. The preserves are great stirred into a cup of hot or iced water. Delicious!!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

nice article, keep the posts coming

Anonymous said...

Helpful blog, bookmarked the website with hopes to read more!

ViswaPrabha | വിശ്വപ്രഭ said...

Citron (Citrus medica) is known as ഗണപതി നാരകം (Ganapathi Narakam) in Kerala. It is being grown in my yard at Kerala too! However, we have still not plucked the two very large fruits that have emerged for the first time in this new plant. As I read about it, it is also used in some Hindu rituals in Kerala. Of course, it is also one of the medicinal plant in Ayurvedic pharmacopeia.

Nice to see your recipes. I have noted them and will be using when our fruits are ripe. :-)

Geetha said...

Thank you ViswaPrabha, for your comments. Congratulations on being the proud owner of a Citron tree :D. How is it used medicinally? Have fun using the fruits. Let me know how you like them.

Anonymous said...

You don't eat the "flesh" of the Limon--you throw it away and eat the rind!

Shyama Prasad said...

Hello, adding a few comments to your Citron blog from 2010. :- ) I am from Kumble ( or Kanipura ) area, near Mangalooru. In Kannada, especially the Halekannada ( old kannada spoken by Brahmin community ) Citron is called 'Mahabala Huli' and it grows aplenty in our farms. My family folks who have been in to Ayurveda, use them for various herbal medication. The fruit itself has very many medicinal values, besides being delicious. In my family, you never throw away anything, not even the seeds of Mahabala Huli. The outer skin almost always used for pickle ( delicious! ) and herbal stuff. It makes the otherwise bitter herbal medicines tasty. :- ). The pericarp ( the thick white section ) is the most delicious part, which is never to be missed. Whenever there is are ripe Citrons available, it is the ideal eatable for guests in the house. I, on the other hand, love to peel the fruit with a knife, slice the thick pericarp with the pith intact and it eat all together which makes it one hell of a sweet & sour meal....! :- ) I had to share my fond memories of this amazing fruit.

Angarai Vadyar said...

The leaves can be used to make "veppilaikatti" popular in Tamilnadu.

Geetha said...

Thanks Shyama and Angarai for your comments! Wow, did not know the citron was eaten fresh! Veppilaikatti is a well-beloved condiment - the leaves are pounded into a dry chutney along with chiles, salt and other spices, yum! Happy cooking and eating!