Lemons, limes and oranges might be the hardest working citrus in the fruit business. They’re the faces of a fruit family that’s loved for their flavor, fragrance and overall beauty.
Did you know that citrus fruits are basically highly evolved berries? Citrus fruits grow on deciduous trees, and begin to sprout from tiny, fragrant white flowers. Regardless of the type of citrus, these fruits are usually round or oblong. Usually they have a pulpy center made of individual sections of juicy sacs, and some have no fruit at all!
From the outside in, citrus fruits are made up of zest, pith and individual sections of fruit. The sciency name for the peel is pericarp, which has three layers called the exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp. The outermost part of the peel is the zest (aka flavedo), which contains tiny pores of flavorful essential oil. Under this is white pith, which can be edible or inedible depending on the species.
Finally there’s the innermost layer, which makes up the skin of the individual fruit sections that citrus are known for most. Inside those sections are juicy little sacs that range in shape and size from teeny and round (like a caviar lime) or large and oblong (like a cara cara orange).
While it’s uncertain just how many citrus varieties exist today, it’s believed that most can be traced back to just three citrus species. These species are citron, mandarin orange and the pomelo. The first known citrus specimens are believed to have originated in Asia, particularly in the Himalayas. Today, countless varieties of citrus trees produce fruit around the world in warm and tropical climates.
Citrus fruits have a lot in common, but can be eaten, prepared and enjoyed in a lot of different ways. For instance, varieties of citrus like kumquats are eaten whole, while others have a thick, inedible pith like blood oranges. Many lemons and limes have seeds, while other citruses like clementines are cultivated to be seedless. Some are hearty enough for a snack, like a plump grapefruit. Others are used mostly to impart flavor into other foods, like the shapely and juiceless Buddah’s Hand. One thing’s for sure, there’s a seemingly endless list of ways to enjoy all kinds of citrus.
Because citrus flavors tend to be bright and tart many people wonder, are citrus fruits acidic? Acidity is measured on a pH scale from zero to 14. If the ph is under 7, it is considered acidic. Over 7, and it is considered alkaline. Most known citrus are considered to be acidic, but they vary in levels. For instance, a lemon has a pH of 2.3, which is nearly twice as acidic as an orange, which has a pH of 4.35.
Know any good dogs? Trick question, all dogs are good! Dogs may enjoy an orange slice here and there. The citric acid in these fruits is known to be non-toxic to dogs, so you can share your snack with Spot when no one’s looking. Citrus fruits contain sugar, so give it to your pup in moderation. Be careful to remove any seeds beforehand as well. We recommend talking to your vet before introducing new foods to your pet to make sure it’s safe for them to eat.
Citrus fruits are some of the brightest and cherriest of the fruit world, so it’s no wonder they’re used in everything from drinks to dressings, meals, candies, juices, desserts and beyond. At FruitStand, we ship high quality citrus directly to you from our small, specialty farms. The best part? Our family farms grow hard to find, exotic citrus fruits throughout the year that you may not see anywhere else. Follow us on Instagram @Fruitstandcom, or check our website for news on which kinds of rare and delicious citrus fruits are available to ship directly to your door.Want to geek out over citrus with us? Join our FruitStand Facebook Community!