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Citron - Help!


ElainaA
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All I know about citron is the plastic containers of rather suspect candied fruit I buy every year for stollen and other holiday breads. But I have been candying fruit for several years - tangerines, apricots, pears, plums, cherries and oranges. And I would love to make all my own candied fruit for the holiday baking. So when I saw a big piece of citron in my favorite Italian market I asked about it. The store owner really didn't know much about it. He said it was not already candied. It was packed in sugar. So I brought it home, thinking I could candy it myself. Then I did some research and came on this quote by David Lebovitz on his blog, re candying citron: "And I’m scared to use those greenish pieces and strips sold in containers." 

 

Guess what I have:

DSC00352.jpg

Yeah - it's a green piece sold in a container. 

 

Everything I see on line about citron starts with really fresh - that is white fleshed - citron. 

 

So - what do I have and what can I do with it? Obviously, not what I hoped for. 

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Edited by ElainaA (log)

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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Yeah, that's candied.  But just because David Lebovitz doesn't like them, it doesn't mean that yours is bad or unuseable.  

 

ETA: If you were going to candy it yourself anyway, you've just saved yourself a lot of work.

Edited by jmacnaughtan (log)
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Sure looks candied to me.  Cut a piece and taste it.

I did taste it - it tastes citrus-y. It isn't very sweet at all. Not at all like most candied fruit I've had, whether home made or purchased.

 

 

Yeah, that's candied.  But just because David Lebovitz doesn't like them, it doesn't mean that yours is bad or unuseable.  

 

ETA: If you were going to candy it yourself anyway, you've just saved yourself a lot of work.

 

:biggrin:   :biggrin:   :biggrin:      Although I actually enjoy the process.

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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You can read about the process used to preserve the fruit HERE  Pages 402-404. 

 

Unlike "regular" candied fruit, the citron is not "cooked" in the syrup but rather packed in it at ambient temps, AFTER undergoing a brining or pickling process to preserve it. 

 

Candying raw citron is not an easy task, the stuff is so dense that it simply turns into hard chunks that have to be stored in syrup because when they dry out, they are like rocks.

I attempted this many years ago and gave up after a few very frustrating exercises in futility.  A waste of time and sugar...

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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You can read about the process used to preserve the fruit HERE  Pages 402-404. 

 

Unlike "regular" candied fruit, the citron is not "cooked" in the syrup but rather packed in it at ambient temps, AFTER undergoing a brining or pickling process to preserve it. 

 

Candying raw citron is not an easy task, the stuff is so dense that it simply turns into hard chunks that have to be stored in syrup because when they dry out, they are like rocks.

I attempted this many years ago and gave up after a few very frustrating exercises in futility.  A waste of time and sugar...

Andiesenji, thank you. You really are amazingly knowledgable concerning all things food!

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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Andiesenji already wrote great infos as usual.

Here in Italy candied citron is used in a lot of traditional cakes, but all pastry shops buy it from specialized manufacturers since it's a really painstaking process. You need to start with raw (green) citron, but you can find for sale only mature (yellow) citron, so it's quite difficult to start unless you have a tree. Then you need to brine it for some weeks, here experience is key. Problem is that if you fail your batch then you need to wait for the next year before trying the next one. You grow old before being able to master this process, that's why now they are made only by n^th generation artisans and industries.

Well made candied citron has a nice green color because it's made from green fruit and the brining phase fixes the color. If you need to use it then look for the "cups" (half fruit, like in your photo) and avoid the cubed / striped / already cut ones. It's a great ingredient for cakes, since its bitter and acidic taste makes it more balanced and palatable than all the other candied fruits. It's also great for garnishes, just google "cassata siciliana".

If Lebowitz doesn't like it then most probably he never tasted the high quality stuff: low quality candied citron is atrocious, much worse than the other low quality candied fruit. The high quality ones are difficult to find, but totally worth it.

I suggest you to avoid trying to candy mature (yellow) citron, unless you like bad surprises.

 

 

 

Teo

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Teo

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Andiesenji already wrote great infos as usual.

Here in Italy candied citron is used in a lot of traditional cakes, but all pastry shops buy it from specialized manufacturers since it's a really painstaking process. You need to start with raw (green) citron, but you can find for sale only mature (yellow) citron, so it's quite difficult to start unless you have a tree. Then you need to brine it for some weeks, here experience is key. Problem is that if you fail your batch then you need to wait for the next year before trying the next one. You grow old before being able to master this process, that's why now they are made only by n^th generation artisans and industries.

Well made candied citron has a nice green color because it's made from green fruit and the brining phase fixes the color. If you need to use it then look for the "cups" (half fruit, like in your photo) and avoid the cubed / striped / already cut ones. It's a great ingredient for cakes, since its bitter and acidic taste makes it more balanced and palatable than all the other candied fruits. It's also great for garnishes, just google "cassata siciliana".

If Lebowitz doesn't like it then most probably he never tasted the high quality stuff: low quality candied citron is atrocious, much worse than the other low quality candied fruit. The high quality ones are difficult to find, but totally worth it.

I suggest you to avoid trying to candy mature (yellow) citron, unless you like bad surprises.

 

 

 

Teo

I got the green fruit - at the time I knew a Jewish man who grew citron for the Sukkot festival and gave me some fruit to play with. 

 

I brined it as described in one of my very old cookbooks and then put it in very heavy simple syrup 4:1 sugar to water - which crystalized solid during the "storage" so I had to heat it to extract the chunks of citron.  

I had cut it into pieces that were about 2" square and 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick to make it easier to handle.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Is that candied citrus citron fruit?  Or candied citron melon peel (citron melon is distantly related to watermelon)?  It looks more like the citrus fruit, which would have a real citrus favor with some nice herbal and bitter undertones.  The citron melon has a very bland flavor, mostly gained from immersion in a lemon/ginger sugar syrup.  

 

Either one can be used as "candied fruit" for cakes, cookies, etc., but the citrus version has way more flavor and appeal, to me (obviously!).  

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Andiesenji already wrote great infos as usual.

Here in Italy candied citron is used in a lot of traditional cakes, but all pastry shops buy it from specialized manufacturers since it's a really painstaking process. You need to start with raw (green) citron, but you can find for sale only mature (yellow) citron, so it's quite difficult to start unless you have a tree. Then you need to brine it for some weeks, here experience is key. Problem is that if you fail your batch then you need to wait for the next year before trying the next one. You grow old before being able to master this process, that's why now they are made only by n^th generation artisans and industries.

Well made candied citron has a nice green color because it's made from green fruit and the brining phase fixes the color. If you need to use it then look for the "cups" (half fruit, like in your photo) and avoid the cubed / striped / already cut ones. It's a great ingredient for cakes, since its bitter and acidic taste makes it more balanced and palatable than all the other candied fruits. It's also great for garnishes, just google "cassata siciliana".

If Lebowitz doesn't like it then most probably he never tasted the high quality stuff: low quality candied citron is atrocious, much worse than the other low quality candied fruit. The high quality ones are difficult to find, but totally worth it.

I suggest you to avoid trying to candy mature (yellow) citron, unless you like bad surprises.

 

 

 

Teo

 

Really?  I candy lemons, oranges and grapefruits all the time but have never tried citron.  What happens when you try to candy ripe citron?  

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Is that candied citrus citron fruit?  Or candied citron melon peel (citron melon is distantly related to watermelon)?  It looks more like the citrus fruit, which would have a real citrus favor with some nice herbal and bitter undertones.  The citron melon has a very bland flavor, mostly gained from immersion in a lemon/ginger sugar syrup.  

 

Either one can be used as "candied fruit" for cakes, cookies, etc., but the citrus version has way more flavor and appeal, to me (obviously!).  

The piece I have is cirtron fruit.

 

 

Really?  I candy lemons, oranges and grapefruits all the time but have never tried citron.  What happens when you try to candy ripe citron?  

I'm getting very varied opinions on this. David Lebovitz has a blog post on candying citron. From the pictures he is starting with a yellow, ripe one. He basically says "easy peasy". (Not in those words though. That's me.) Several other bloggers also have posts on it. However i also hear, from people whose opinions I highly respect, including Andiesenji, that it isn't actually so easy. If I can locate an actual unprocessed citron I will probably try just for the experience.

I've never candied lemons - I think I might have to do that. I have tangerines sitting in syrup right now - up to 70 brix yesterday,  so today might be the last time boiling the syrup. (My husband gave me a refractometer for Christmas 3 years ago. My family was all  "What IS that?" I thought it was one of the best presents I ever got. I'm lucky, he's a tool geek.)

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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Really?  I candy lemons, oranges and grapefruits all the time but have never tried citron.  What happens when you try to candy ripe citron?  

 

The first time I tried to candy citron, it was ripe and it really didn't hold together or look very appetizing - it got mushy  and looked "furry" and did not have the flavor I expected. 

It was sort of like the Mexican "candied pumpkin"  which looks firm but is easily mashable. 

 

It would not dry in the dehydrator, just sort of melted into blobs - it was sort of like gummy bears only less firm and had an odd flavor.  I didn't use them in baking, I gave them to a neighbor who had several children and they treated them like candy.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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The first time I tried to candy citron, it was ripe and it really didn't hold together or look very appetizing - it got mushy  and looked "furry" and did not have the flavor I expected. 

It was sort of like the Mexican "candied pumpkin"  which looks firm but is easily mashable. 

 

It would not dry in the dehydrator, just sort of melted into blobs - it was sort of like gummy bears only less firm and had an odd flavor.  I didn't use them in baking, I gave them to a neighbor who had several children and they treated them like candy.

 

Our neighborhood Pakistani markets all carry citron -- mostly the "hand" type, although I've also seen some that look like huge lemons.  Maybe I'll give them a try in a few weeks when I candy the other citrus peels for Christmas.  

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Our neighborhood Pakistani markets all carry citron -- mostly the "hand" type, although I've also seen some that look like huge lemons.  Maybe I'll give them a try in a few weeks when I candy the other citrus peels for Christmas.  

Sylvia - Do you candy just the peels or do you candy slices of the fruit? 

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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Really?  I candy lemons, oranges and grapefruits all the time but have never tried citron.  What happens when you try to candy ripe citron?  

 

It gets awful. The color changes to a totally unappetizing brown. The texture becomes mush, it doesn't hold the nice bite of the other candied stuff. The taste is even worse, it becomes overly bitter and unpalatable. I'm talking about candying all the "flesh" of the fruit (the yellow peel and the white "albedo", don't know how it's called in English). If you candy only the yellow peel then you get fine results.

 

 

 

Teo

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Teo

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It gets awful. The color changes to a totally unappetizing brown. The texture becomes mush, it doesn't hold the nice bite of the other candied stuff. The taste is even worse, it becomes overly bitter and unpalatable. I'm talking about candying all the "flesh" of the fruit (the yellow peel and the white "albedo", don't know how it's called in English). If you candy only the yellow peel then you get fine results.

 

 

 

Teo

Interesting that you call it 'albedo' (which to me is an astronomical term); we call it 'pith'. And yes, it's typically more bitter than the colored zest. It makes sense that it would affect the quality of the candied citron.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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