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The Dulcia citron is fairly small, ovalish, and flat on both ends. It has been compared in shape and size to a large tomato or a small persimmon. The medium-thick rind is yellow to orange-yellow when ripe. The flesh is surrounded by white pith and contains many seeds. While its name suggests this citron is sweet, the Dulcia is actually quite sour and similar to a lemon. Citrons are notable for their fresh fragrance, and can even be used to perfume whole rooms.
Dulcia citron is available in the late fall and winter months.
The Dulcia citron is a member of the Citron, or Citrus medica, family. Citrons are the oldest known citrus fruit. Several varieties of both sweet and sour citrons are grown today—Some of the more well-known varieties include Buddha's hand, Diamante, and Etrog. Other species of citrus such as lemons and limes were originally citron varieties.
Citrons are high in Vitamin C, calcium, and dietary fiber, making them a healthy addition to the diet. Some cultures use citrons to soothe nausea.
The main attraction of the Dulcia citron is its skin. Zest the rind and add the flavorful results to make a compound butter, a sauce for seafood, or simple syrup for beverages. The skin also candies well, for use in desserts such as fruit cake and sweet rolls. Like other citrus, store citrons at room temperature for only a few days, or in the refrigerator for longer.
Citrons have a long association with the Jewish religion, especially around Italy, France, and Germany. They are traditionally eaten for the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles. Because of this, the citron is sometimes called the Jewish lemon or Jewish apple.
The first known citrons were growing in ancient Mesopotamia around 4000 BCE. Alexander the Great and his army brought citrons to the Mediterranean by 300 BCE. They then made their way to Eastern Asia and the Middle East, and eventually to North America via the Spanish explorers. Citrons never took off commercially in the United States, but did get established in Puerto Rico. Today they are mainly grown commercially along the Mediterranean coast in Europe.