The citron is unlike the more common citrus species, such as the lemon or orange. While those more popular fruits are peeled to consume their pulpy and juicy segments, the citron’s pulp is dry, containing a small quantity of insipid juice, if any. The main content of a citron fruit is the thick white rind, which sticks to the segments, and cannot be separated from them easily.
Oblong in shape, the rind of the citron is leathery and furrowed. The inner portion is thick, white and fleshy while the outer part is uniformly thin and very fragrant. The pulp is usually acidic, but also can be sweet, and even pulpless varieties are found. The citron is green in color when unripe and yellow-orange when fully ripe.
From ancient through medieval times, the citron was used mainly for medical purposes: to combat seasickness, pulmonary troubles, intestinal ailments, and other disorders. The essential oil extracted from the outer part of the rind was also regarded as an antibiotic. Citron juice with wine was considered an effective antidote to poison.
It is difficult to find in the U.S. and is most commonly available around the holiday season. It is generally sold in a small dice, often part of a premixed candied fruit mix intended for use in fruit cake.
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