For many centuries many families in Italy used to keep a basket of citrus fruit on the table as a status symbol because of the beauty of the leaves, the flowers and the colors of the fruits. In patrician residences it was a must to have an “orangery” as a decorative element. Vincenzo Corrado, a famous chef who lived between the eighteenth and nineteenth century and the author of several publications. He describe a party in the country house of the Duchess Anna Caracciolo, emphasized the presence of citrus trees in the gardens and orchards. In 1787 he also published a book on the “Physiology of citrus fruit” with a number of useful tips for planting a citrus grove in private gardens.
Varieties and use: Italy is world famous for the varieties of oranges with red juice from Sicily (Catania plain and surrounding areas): Tarot, Moro, common Sanguinello, Sanguinello moscato.
There is also a variety of oranges called “bitter”; they contain an essential oil of bitter taste, used for the preparation of bitter liqueurs, candied fruits and jams.
Citrus fruit is the quintessential winter fruit, there are many varieties and some of them are the product of crossbreeding. Grapefruits, oranges, mandarins and clementines are the best known: a glass of their juice meets a person’s daily requirements of vitamin C. Also present in these fruits is vitamin A, which is useful for the skin and magnesium which strengthens the nervous system. For maximum benefits drink the juice that has just been squeezed because vitamin C deteriorates very quickly when in contact with oxygen but also light and heat.
The term citrus derives from the Latin “acru (s)” or “sour” and indicates the flavor. It identifies the family of evergreen plants from which fragrant and intensely flavored fruits are obtained.