Citrus Fruit Processing
The term “citrus” (“agrumes” in French, “agrios” or “citricos” in Spanish) is a generic name designating a large group of universally popular edible fruits. According to the current system of plant taxonomy, the genus “Citrus” belongs to the subfamily of Aurantioideae, family of Rutaceae, order of Geraniales (Davies and Albrigo, 1994). The genus comprises numerous varieties of fruits known by their popular names: sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis), sour and bitter oranges (C. aurantium), mandarins (C. reticulata), grapefruit (C. paradise), pomelo (C. grandis), lemons (C. limon), limes (C. latifolia and C. aurantifolia), citrons (C. medica), etc. and a very large number of hybrids and cybrids (cytoplasmatic hybrids). The kumquats (Fig. 1.1) belonging to a related but different genus (Fortunella) are extensively cultivated in southern China and have some commercial importance, particularly in the Greek island of Corfu and elsewhere as candied fruit. The taxonomy of the Citrus genus has been extensively investigated by Swingle (1943). A colorful illustrated guide to the citrus varieties of the world is available (Saunt, 1990).
HISTORY OF CITRICULTURE
Although the cultivation of citrus trees is believed to have been practiced at least 4000 years ago in the “tropical and subtropical areas of the Asian continent and the Malaysian archipelago” (Dugo and Di Giacomo, 2002), uncertainties exist as to the true origins of citriculture. Apparently, different varieties of citrus were predominant in different parts of the world. Thus, while the Chinese origin of the sweet orange (Batchelor and Sinclair, 1961) and of the lemon (Bartholomew and Sinclair, 1951) is widely accepted, historians agree that the grapefruit did not originate in China or south-east Asia (Sinclair, 1972). However, different distributions have also been proposed. According to Rouseff et al. (2009), sweet oranges may have originated in India, the trifoliate orange and mandarin in China, and acid citrus types in Malaysia. At any rate, however, it seems certain that some varieties of citrus have been cultivated in China for many centuries. Trade, wars, and emigration, coupled with the attractive fragrance and flavor of the fruit, brought about the diffusion of citrus to the Middle-East, Northern Africa, and Southern Europe in the early Middle-Ages, and much later to the Americas and to Australia. One variety of the citron (etrog) was apparently known in the Middle-East, at least two centuries before Christ (Tolkowsky, 1938; Braverman, 1949). The Portuguese introduced “superior varieties” of oranges to Europe (Braverman, 1949). The word for “orange” is “burtokal” in spoken Arabic and “portokal” in Turkish, indicating clearly the role of the Portuguese in introducing the orange to Europe and the Middle- East via Spain. Mainly because of their fragrance in the flowering season, orange trees were highly appreciated items in the luxurious gardens of European nobility, where special areas known as “orangeries” were reserved for their culture. For a detailed study of the history of citriculture, see Tolkowsky (1938) and Reuther et al. (1967).
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