Citron – Uses and Varieties

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Our last citrus fruit is the Citron. Many call it the non-juice citrus because it is very dry with only a bit of juice. It grows wild in the valleys at the foot of the Himalayas, and is native to India, near the Burma border. It is a large fruit that can weigh between 8-10 pounds.


Citron-pic-on-tree-150x150The citron fruit is actually mentioned in the Jewish Torah as being required during the Feast of Tabernacles in Leviticus 23:40. Tradition says that they could have actually brought this particular fruit with them during the Exodus from Egypt.


Per individual citron, there is less than 1 gram of protein and just a smidge over 1 citron-for-fruitcake-pic-150x150gram of fiber in each. It also has calcium, phosphorus, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, and is quite high in ascorbic acid. You will see citron as one of the main ingredients in fruit cakes, and is usually candied so the calories and sugar content is much higher.

The rind of the Citron is predominantly used, especially in citron bath products picmany fragrances, and is thus cultivated mainly for its aromatic peel. Besides its use in fragrances and scents is cosmetics, it is also used in flavoring in fruitcake.

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One of the pulp-less varieties of Citron is mostbuddist-hand-citron-pic unusual. It is called Buddha’s Hand, because of its “uniqueness”. According to Asian tradition, a Buddha’s hand that is closed is considered more fortunate since closed hands indicate prayer.

Another cultivar of the citron is the Etrog cultivated primarily in etrog-pic-123x150Israel. This particular citrus fruit has the similar yellow ribbed skin with its thick peel not containing much juice. It has been one of the four spices used in the wave offering of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

We’ve traveled the world in search of citrus fruits in our studies.Citrus fruits pic-wide From the most familiar citrus to the most unusual, I trust you’ve gained a better understanding and deeper appreciation of the varieties of citrus fruit.

Here’s to your health with Citrus Fruits!

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Limequats and Kumquats

Citrus fruits


You’ve probably heard of kumquats but there are also limequats. It shouldn’t belimequats pic surprising then that the limequat is a cross between the lime and the kumquat. Its shape is more oval than round, and it has a thick, shiny green skin with small edible seeds. The limequat pulp is yellow with a bitter-sweet taste. A medium limequat is only 20 calories, and has 7 carbohydrates and 2 grams of dietary fiber. They are also rich in Vitamins C and A.

limequats-slicedThe limequat plant is now grown in Japan, Israel, Spain, Malaysia, South Africa, United Kingdom, and in the United States—California, Texas, and Florida. You can often substitute a limequat for limes and lemons in recipes.

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Kumquat You may actually be surprised to learn that this small, oval fruit is kumquat picactually in the citrus family and somewhat resembling a small orange. Kumquats taste like other citrus fruits but their main distinction is that they you can eat them completely peel and all.

The kumquat plant is actually native to South Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. They have long been cultivated in Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, and Southeast Asia. There are historical references to them in Chinese literature dating in the 12th century.

You can find kumquats in your local grocery stores from November through June. To enjoy the best taste of these little fruits, roll then gently between the fingers before eating as this blends the ingredients in the rind and the tart pulp together for more enjoyment. And remember, you can eat them whole just as you would grapes.

The calories for kumquatskumquats in salad picture are equivalent to that of grapes: approximately 13-20 calories per kumquat, depending on the size of each. Even though they are rich in dietary fiber, they only have 1 gram of fat, 3 grams of protein, and 21 grams of carbohydrates. Even with their 12 grams of sugar, they are rich Vitamins A and C), as well as pigment antioxidants. They taste great and offer so much for your good health. The picture to the left shows kumquats with an orange on the right.

You can enjoy kumquats in fruit salads, as a garnish on platters, excellent for marmalade and preserves, jams, jellies, and even in cakes, pies, and ice cream. You may just need to add this particular citrus fruit to your list of “must try’s”.

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Limes – Versatility, Trivia, and Key Limes


Most limes in the United States are probably grown in Mexico or Florida followed by Argentina and Brazil. It interesting that in 2007 India was the number one producer of limes in the world. There are various hybrids of limes which we’ll only mention by name: Tahiti Lime, Bearss Lime, and Persian Lime.


limes-sliced-pic-150x150As we have already shared, limes are good for your health and have versatile uses other than in culinary dishes and drinks. Lime extracts and oils are used in cleaning supplies, perfume and aromatherapy.


Here’s some other interesting “lime” trivia.

  • Did you know that Orson Welles originally played Harry Lime in 1949 in the film adaptation of Graham Greene’s “The Third Man”? Later in 1951 and 1952, his role was reprised for the radio show called “The Adventures of Harry Lime”.
  • Did you know that Lime Jell-O is the official state food of Utah?lime-jello-pic
  • Did you know that Lime-flavored Jell-O was introduced to the public in 1930?
  • Did you know that if you microwave a lime for just 15 seconds before squeezing, it will produce almost twice as much juice.
  • Did you know that in Mexico the workers would put limes in the neck of their beer bottles to keep mosquitoes away?

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You may be imagesVIXYSD5Lfamiliar with Key Limes. They were already growing in the Florida Keys in the late 1880’s. We can thank Arab traders who shared these green fruits as they journeyed to the areas of the Mediterranean and into Europe. Then via the Crusaders who carried them throughout other parts of the world, and finally Columbus introduced these citrus fruits to the West Indies on his second voyage. It was Spanish explorers and settlers who actually began growing them in Florida, specifically in the area of the Florida Keys. It isn’t surprise then that these particular limes are what we now call Key Limes.

The key lime itself is smaller in size than regular limes andkey-lime-pie-pic-150x150 seedier. It also has a higher acidity, a strong aroma, and a thinner rind. Most consider the key lime to have a more tart and bitter flavor, and is the main flavoring ingredient in none other than Key Lime Pie. It’s my mother-in-law’s favorite pie. Besides enjoying key limes in pies, other desserts and drinks, the key lime tree has a great reputation as an indoor houseplant.

Maybe you’ve got enough time today to stop by your local grocery store and take home some key lime pie. If you do, please enjoy it for me, too!

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Limes – Origin, Sailors, and Uses




When you think of lemons, the next citrus fruit that comes to mind is Limes.

Limes look similar to lemons in shape but are actually the smallest member of the citrus family. They have a green, thick skin with a tender, seedless yellow flesh. They are less sour than lemons, and can be grown all year round. One single lime is only 20 calories and is similar in vitamins and minerals as lemons, but it also includes some Vitamin K, E, as well as Vitamin B-6.


limes - multiple onesWe find the origination of limes most likely in the Middle East, perhaps Southern Iraq or Persia, but it was first commercially produced in what was once called Babylonia, which is now Iran. Limes spread to Egypt and Africa and by the 1200s were introduced to Spain by the Moors and were then used throughout Europe. As we saw with lemons, Christopher Columbus took limes to the Caribbean in the late 1400’s and were later cultivated in the Florida region by Spanish explorers. They continued to gain interest and spread throughout the Americas.

About 98 percent of limes consumed in the United States today comes from Mexico producing about 530,000 tons annually and the U.S. only producing about 44,000 tons.

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During the 19th century British sailors were issued a daily sailing ship picallowance of citrus, lemons at first and then later limes. Because of the effectiveness of combating scurvy, the Vitamin C content for sailors was a godsend. (Scurvy is a skin or gum disease brought on by the deficiency of Vitamin C). British sailors quickly acquired the nickname of being a Limey because of their use of limes when sailing the seas.


Limes or lime juice can be used to purify the breath. Limes also have antibiotic affects and aid in destroying bacteria in the intestines and the mouth. As with lemons, lime juice can be diluted with water and sweetened with honey as a natural remedy for sore throats and colds.

burssels sprouts with limeLimes are commonly they are converted into juice or used to flavor various food dishes and drinks.

We’ve added lime juice in cooking sliced and butter-sautéed Brussels sprouts. It really jazz’s up this unique vegetable.

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Lemons – Health Benefits and Oils

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In spite of the tartness of this citrus fruit, lemons have gained a bad rap and a negative name as well. If you’ve bought a car that turned out to be a clunker, you’ve probably called it a “lemon”. And, of course, we all know the saying “If life throws you a lemon, then make lemonade”….

Speaking of lemonade….Due to a killerlemonade picture-1 freeze affecting lemon cultivation in both California and Florida in the late 1800’s, commercial production in Florida ceased, but planting resumed in the early 1950’s where a new market for frozen lemon concentrate emerged and became popular. The tangy, invigorating and refreshing frozen juice turned into lemonade that was easy for consumers to mix with water and sugar and enjoy on those hot summer afternoons.

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As with most citrus fruits, lemons have the powerful antioxidant properties of lemon-squeezing-pic-150x150Vitamin C but other health benefits are their strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers/abilities. A cup of lemon juice only has 61 calories, and that may sound too much, but realize that there are 48 teaspoons in a cup, so each teaspoon of lemon juice only has 1.3 calories, and if you just squeeze a little, the calories are practically nil. One lemon is by itself only has 12 grams of carbohydrates, a hint of sugar, and 1 gram of protein, besides also being rich in Vitamin A, calcium, and iron.

lemon juice in water picWhen you’ve had a cold or sore throat, including a fever, you may have tried a cup of warm water with lemon juice and honey for soothing your irritated throat.

Long distance walkers find lemons to help in several ways—as refreshment, an extra boost of Vitamin C for energy lessening fatigue, and as protection against infection.

Lemons are used in a variety of ways, but again we want to caution those with any citrus allergies or others who may have heartburn, kidney or gall bladder problemsplease consult your doctor before embarking on using any lemon-related remedies or drinking lemon juice.


Lemon balm also has a calming effect, aiding in helping to doTerra lemon oilremove exhaustion, dizziness, anxiety, tension, etc. Many times offices will use a lemon-scented or lemon-balm room freshener which some have found increases the efficiency of employees. Even sprinkling a few drops of lemon balm essential oil on a handkerchief and inhaling can help ease stress and tension which researchers at Ohio State University confirmed through their studies. Lemon aromatherapy can be an aid in enhancing a persons’ mood.

Lemons good for your health, and can also be enjoyed in many other ways so I hope you’ll incorporate more of them into your lifestyle.

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Lemons – History and Health Aid

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Lemons are small roundish-oval, thick-skinned yellow citrus fruit containing citric acid which is the sour-tasting molecule providing its tartness to your taste buds. It was first called limon by the French but for many years prior in Arabia and Persia it was a generic term for citrus fruit but in the 14th century it was known as lemon.

Lemons are widely thought to have first grown in India, Burma or lemons picChina; yet again, I wouldn’t be surprised if they began in the Garden of Eden. They were known to the Jews in Jerusalem prior to the time of Jesus. Josephus recorded that the Jews pelted an errant high priest with them during a festival in the 90’s B.C. Crusaders returned from Palestine bringing lemons to the rest of Europe. Thanks to Christopher Columbus for bringing lemon seeds to Hispaniola and the New World.

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There are at least 200 cultivars (distinct varieties) of lemons found somewhere in the United States. Of these varieties some of these are best used for lemon oil, for juice, and others things. The efforts of James Lind and his experiments in 1747 helped seamen recover from scurvy by adding lemon juice to their diets. At this time Vitamin C was not yet known, but Lind found how beneficial lemon juice was for both sailors and seamen. It was later learned that Vitamin C is needed for a healthy body and life.


lemons on treeToday the largest producer of lemons, as well as limes, is India, closely followed by Mexico; however, they are also grown in various locations in the United States (California, Arizona, and Florida). Most of the commercial crop of lemons is grown in Southern California which produces close to 90% of the annual US output. With that said, it is interesting to know that lemons now grow on every continent on Earth, except for Antarctica.

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It’s Ugli Fruit

Ugli fruits

Don’t call this citrus fruit ugly unless you mean it! Another tangelo hybrid is interesting, but because of its name, you might not have tried it or found it at your local stores. This hybrid tangelo is a cross of a mandarin orange type and grapefruit and named Ugli fruit. Don’t let its name fool you. Many feel it is superior to grapefruit with only a faint bitter taste, nearly seedless, easily skinned, very juicy with white flesh within the thick skin.


Ugli fruit was discovered by GGR Sharp in Jamaica on the Trout Hall Estateugli fruit cut that he owned. In 1917 he found it growing in a pasture. He began by grafting sour wood orange and budwood and continued regrafting until he came up with the large, puffy light-yellow fruit. It has an unsightly appearance with rough and wrinkled skin or rind, so the name Ugli seems quite appropriate. It was first exported to England and Canada in the early 1930’s and in 1942 finally landed in markets in New York City. You might have heard it called “poor man’s orange” or “poor man’s grapefruit”.

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ugli fruit with name tagThis Jamaican tangelo is now called UGLI and is the trademark of Cabel Hall Citrus Limited which sells it. It is distributed in the United States and Europe between November and April.


Roughly half an Ugli fruit has just 45 calories, with 11 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and even 1 protein, not to mention per serving it provides 70% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C. Whether you agree with hybridization or not, you’ve probably enjoyed the fruit of such scientific intervention whether by eating the Ugli or another hybrid variety.

Ugli has zero fat, no cholesterol, can reduce the risk in cancer, stroke, hypertension and even muscle related problems, protects against kidney stone formation, is rich in Vitamin B that helps promote good oral health and as an antioxidant, helps the body destroy free radicals. I’d say Ugli isn’t ugly any more, wouldn’t you?

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How did a relative tangelos picof the tangerine become a tangelo? The mandarin orange (or tangerine) has been combined with other citrus fruit creating more interesting choices, which is the case of tangelos. Some believe that tangelos originated some 3,000 years ago in Southeast Asia, yet others consider it a hybrid of tangerines and grapefruit. There are people on both sides of this debate which reminds us of those still debating how to pronounce tomato. I’ll venture out there and say the tangelo is a hybrid.

Even back in 1897-1898 the United States Department of Agriculture were working on hybrids of mandarin oranges and grapefruits. Two prominent men came to the forefront in this work: Dr. Herbert J. Webber (Riverside, California) and Dr. Walter T. Swingle (Florida). Later documentation actually credits W.T. Swingle with creating the hybrid in 1911. The hybrids were so unlike other citrus fruit that they were set aside in a class by themselves, Citrus X tangelo.

You may find these particular products of hybridization in these minneola tangelo pic“breeds” of tangelos in your grocery store: Minneola tangelo or minneolas and Orlando tangelos among others. The Orlando tangelo was known by the name of Lake Tangelo when first cultivated, and it is one of the more cold-tolerant varieties.

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Tangelos are related to grapefruit, but with the new “breeds” mentioned above they do not contain the furocoumarins that grapefruit have. They are, however, filled with healthy goodness, perfect for any afternoon snack. Tangelos are noted for their juiciness and mild flavor. Minneola tangelos have a smooth to slightly pebbled texture, few if any seeds, and peel very easily. You can find them available from mid December through April.

Orlandos and Minneolastangelos with leaves are popular Tangelo varieties. I’m sure you’ve seen the most plentiful and most popular tangerine variety, the Minneola tangelo because it is easily identified by the characteristic knob-like formation at the stem end.

Tangelos are rich in flavonoid compounds, in dietary fiber, and have a variety of essential vitamins and minerals: vitamin A, vitamin B-6, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, and of course, vitamin C. They will retain more of their vitamin content if consumed raw, with only 32 calories per tangelo.

According to a study done in 2012 with over 70,000 women participating and published in the medical journal “Stroke”, researchers concluded that the flavonoids in tangelos and citrus fruit may have an anti-inflammatory effect that protects blood vessels. They agreed that high flavonoid intake may also reduce the risk of asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders caused by aging. It shouldn’t be a surprise that God would make this fruit so healthy for us. 

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If you like tangerines, Clementines picyou’ll like Clementines. They are a variety of tangerines in relationship to mandarin oranges—a hybrid between a mandarin and a sweet orange. Their exterior is deep orange with a smooth, glossy appearance, easily peeled, and almost always seedless. Did you know that you can separate Clementines into 7 to 14 segments?

Some sources claim that this citrus fruit originated in China and gradually found its way to the Mediterranean and eventually into Europe. However, most sources agree that it was first discovered by accidental hybridization by a monk, Father Clement Rodier, in the garden of his orphanage in Algeria, and in 1902 he called it “clementine”.

It wasn’t until around 1925 that commercial production of Clementines began in Spain, and many still refer to this particular tangerine as the Algerian tangerine, a seedless tangerine that is sweet, juicy, and has less acid than oranges.

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Tangerine and related orange/citrus oils are used in a variety of aromaticsdoTerra essential oils pic that are according to beneficial to your health. Barbara Thomley, lead coordinator in the Intragrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic says that “The scent of a fresh fruit can do amazing things. From what we’ve seen with our patients, even a quick smell can make a major difference.” She further states that citrus aromas are often useful in curbing stress and anxiety as well as helping with digestion and even nausea. Here’s another link where you can find good information on various essential oils: or (Tell Kimberly we sent you).

Clementines are a good source of Vitamin C and are fat-free, cholesterol and sodium free. They do have some natural sugar but only 35 calories per clementine with nearly 9 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of protein.

The market for Clementines did not surface until the severe winter of 1997 in Florida when normal oranges were devastated by the harsh winter weather, and were shortly introduced in the United States to the public.

clementine tangerines in boxes picYou’ll find Clementines in the produce section of your local grocery store typically in net bags in small wooden or cardboard boxes. They keep unrefrigerated for 2-3 days before using them; otherwise, they store easily in your refrigerator if not used within that timeframe.

As with other citrus fruits, they are a good healthy snack choice providing essential vitamins and nutrients. Keep your eyes open so you don’t miss these—your children will thank you.

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Citrus Fruit – Tangerines


Tangerines are actually a subgroup of the mandarins. The primary difference in these is their skin color: tangerines have a much darker, reddish-orange skin whereas mandarins have a lighter orange-colored skin. Actually the tangerine is the most common mandarin orange that is available. It has an outer skin that is thin and you can easily peel it, with a very juicy, aromatic flesh, with a taste described as sweet to tart.


Tangerines are smallertangerines pic whole and segments than common oranges and split easily into segments. The peak tangerine season in the Northern Hemisphere of the world is from October to April. (They are also known as mandarin oranges in Europe and Satsumas in Japan). Their nutritional value is quite similar to oranges with lots of healthy vitamins and minerals necessary for our bodies, especially a high level of potassium per tangerine.

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Here are some interesting things that tells us about tangerines:

  • Tangerines are very low in calories (53 calorie per tangerine); and are valuable sources of flavonoid anti-oxidants like naringenin, naringin, hesperetin, vitamin A, carotenes, xanthins and luteins.
  • In addition, (which isn’t any surprise) tangerines are very rich sources of Vitamin-C (ascorbic acid).
  • They also contain natural soluble and insoluble fiber (hemi-cellulose, pectin) that prevents cholesterol absorption in the gut.


It’s interesting to note that the name “tangerine” was originally an adjectivetangerine one pic used to describe a native person from the area of Tangier, Morocco. But in the 1800’s they applied the term to the fruit that grew in the area of Tangiers, thus this tasty citrus fruit  they named “tangerine”.

I remember enjoying tangerines as a child; and even today I’ll chose tangerines over an orange if I have a choice. They’re the perfect size for the hand of a child and easily peeled and enjoyed by children of “any” age.

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