What Are Citrons Good For?

Sweet Citron
Citron

Citron (Citrus medica) is a citrus fruit many people might recognize from the fruit preserves they add to their pastry or granola recipes. While not as popular as its other citrus relatives, Citron certainly doesn’t fall short when it comes to the nutrients it contains and the uses it has.

What Is Citron?

Citron is one of the oldest citrus fruits, with documentation reaching as far back as the Mesopotamian civilization.  Together with bitter orange, citron is also a parent fruit of the more popular lemon.1Possibly originating from Asia, its spread through trade has led to it being widely cultivated in a handful of Western countries.

In Ancient Greece, citrons were believed to be inedible, possibly because of the unconventional appearance of the fruit. However, the thick rind is now used in salads, marmalades and other food products because of its sweet taste.

In addition, citrons were used as a purgative and a poison antidote, and even as a main ingredient in perfumery because of their refreshing aroma. 2 There are numerous varieties of citron fruits, which largely differ in appearance and color. Some of the most common variants of citron include:

  • Etrog. Etrog is the most popular variety in Judaism, where it is used in the festival of Sukkot, or the Feast of Booths. It is used in a waving ritual, together with myrtle, palm and willow branches.3 Citrons represent both the heart and the ideal Jewish faith, as it is aromatic and flavorful.4
  • Fingered citron. Fingered citrons are one of the most distinct fruits because of their appearance. The fruit contains finger-like structures that look like hands when seen from afar.5 Better known as Buddha’s hand, fingered citrons are usually seen in Buddhist temples where they are used as offerings. Buddha was said to favor the fruits because of their likeness to praying hands.6
  • Corsican. The Corsican variety is one of the sweet and acid-less varieties of citron. It got its name from Corsica, the French region where it originates.7
  • Diamante. The diamante variety was first cultivated in the town of Diamante in Italy and remains, to this day, to be the principal variety produced in the country. Its appearance is closest to the lemon, but may occasionally appear ribbed or lobed.8

What Benefits Can You Get From Citron?

While citron may look like a bumpy and unattractive lemon, the vitamins and nutrients it offers are surely striking. Citrons are loaded with properties that can boost your immune system, balance acid levels in the gut and improve digestion. Some of the benefits you can get from citrons include: 9

  • Helps regulate blood pressure. Citron is rich in potassium and vitamin C, two compounds that help regulate blood circulation by reducing the strain on blood vessels.10
  • Helps protect you from oxidative stress. The high antioxidant and vitamin C content in citron may help protect you from free radicals that can cause a barrage of chronic diseases.
  • Works as an analgesic. A 2010 study shows that citron may be used to relieve pain because of its flavonoid and phenolic components.11
  • May help fight against infections. A 2012 study shows that the peel extract of citron is an effective antibacterial and antiviral agent. It has potential in fighting off staph, E.coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.12

Try This Refreshing Citron Salad Recipe
Insalata di Cedro (Citron Rind Salad)

If you’re unsure how you can add citron to your diet because of its unconventional anatomy, here’s a creative recipe from Emiko Davies you can try:13

Citron Salad

Ingredients:

1 citron, weighing about 500 grams

1 teaspoon of salted capers, rinsed and soaked in water for 10 minutes

100 milliliters of coconut oil

1 young red onion

2 lemons, juiced

Pinch of Himalayan salt and cracked black pepper

Handful of flat leaf parsley

 

 

Procedure:

  1. Peel the citron carefully with a vegetable peeler. Cut in half and then in quarters.
  2. Scoop out the pulp with a small knife. Finely slice the rind, making sure you remove the skin.
  3. Finely slice the onion. Roughly chop the parsley and capers.
  4. Combine the citron rind, onion, parsley and capers in a bowl. Toss together well.
  5. Whisk the lemon juice and coconut oil together. Add to the citron rind mixture.
  6. Toss quickly to keep the rind from absorbing the lemon juice and coconut oil.
  7. Let the salad sit for an hour. Sprinkle the Himalayan salt and pepper, and serve.

(Adapted from Emiko Davies)


Citron Nutrition Facts

Citrons, like other citrus fruits, contain a surplus of essential vitamins and minerals that you will surely benefit from. If you want to know which vitamins you are getting from this fruit, check out these nutrition facts:

 
 

Citron Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 100g
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 300 kcal  
Calories from Fat    
Total Fat 6 g  
Saturated Fat 3 g  
Trans Fat 0 g  
Cholesterol 10 mg  
Sodium 630 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 52 g  
Dietary Fiber 5 g  
Sugar 12 g  
Protein 10 g  
Vitamin A   10%
Calcium   35%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Citrons may not be part of the popular gang of citrus fruits, but you can rest assured that this does not diminish the health components that these fruits contain. If you’re looking for a new way to boost your vitamin C intake, citrons are one of the clear choices. Not only will you get a surplus of vitamins and minerals, you will also get the impressive health benefits they have to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Citron

Q: What is the color of a citron?

A: Unripe citrons are usually green and slowly become yellow as they mature.

Q: What does a citron taste like?

A: The pith of the citron is sweet while the flesh itself is bitter or sour. The pith is usually preserved or cooked in sugar and eaten as a dessert. Citron piths can also be dried and added to pastries and cakes.

Q: Is a citron edible?

A: While a citron fruit may look inedible, it can be eaten in a variety of ways. The most popular way that citrons are prepared is by candying the pith.

Q: Are citrons lemons?
A: Some citron varieties may look like lemons, but citrons are a different fruit. Citrons are said to be the parent fruit of lemons, together with bitter oranges.