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January 14, 2004

O, desire
Posted by Teresa at 08:12 PM *

I have my enthusiasms, but I’ll admit to only one irrational obsession: citrus. Love ‘em. Want to sample all the kinds there are. And after that: marmalade.

So, while this article from the NYTimes didn’t quite make my knees buckle, it nevertheless fired my ambitions. Thai limes, finger limes, and Rangpur limes have now been added to a wish list that already included Buddha’s Hand citron, bergamot orange, ponderosa lemon, granito, citrangequat, indiro mandarinquat, kalamansi lime, faustrimedin, vaniglia pink orange, chinotto, mamelon/sweet limetta, Hong Kong and Fukushu kumquats, citrange, citrangequat, and Poire du Commandeur, plus a lot more calamondins and Seville oranges and lavender gems to confirm my earlier impressions. (Scored this past year: pineapple oranges, which make good eating, and trifoliate oranges, which make good marmalade.)

If anyone reading this knows where I can get odd varieties of citrus, I conjure thee to speak.

Those who were around here last April may recognize the “sweet limes” discussed in the article as the mystery citrus that Kathy Li and other readers helped identify.

And you were aware that Australia has more and weirder kinds of limes than any other part of the world, right? Varieties include the round lime, Russell River lime, desert lime, Humpty Doo lime, and Mount White lime, plus new hybrid varieties like the Outback lime, Sunrise lime, and Blood lime. I don’t know why they have so many kinds; they just do.

Finally, for you fans of the ongoing saga: the One Tree.

Comments on O, desire:
#1 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 10:41 PM:

Common in New Zealand is a "lemonade" lemon: it tastes like a sweetened lemon, so you can eat it or drink the juice straight with no added sugar. Dunno if it goes by another name as well.


#2 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 10:58 PM:

Teresa, SIGH, I'm with you. I've not gone 'collecting' to try and taste it all, but citrus is my favorite flavor of things, I love it all, from blood oranges to pink grapefruit to lime and lemon juice in things.

I'm not into marmalade much, but eating citrus is a pleasure. And using it to cook.

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 11:29 PM:

Are you sure you're not into marmalade? Where do you live?

#4 ::: elise matthesen ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 11:30 PM:

The One Tree stuff is pretty interesting. I really liked the bit about the Mission Inn tree starting to fail after the death of Pres. Roosevelt.

Wonder what they did with the rest of the wood. Hm.

#5 ::: Ray ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 11:44 PM:

What, no mangosteen? Empress of Fruit?

I don't know if it's citrus or not, but hell, it's THE EMPRESS OF FRUIT!

#6 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 12:03 AM:

> And you were aware that Australia has
> more and weirder kinds of limes than any
> other part of the world, right?

Most definitely not aware! All I see at
the market are your basic garden variety
limes (forget what to call them) and kaffir
limes (which I mostly use for the zest, not
the fruit). I'm surprised too, because this
is a huge market which services a large city
full of rabid foodies, and there's never any
trouble getting weird asian stuff - durians,
soursop, dragon fruit, the aforementioned
buddha's hand, etc.

It's pretty rare to see much Australian native
produce - it's never really caught on, and a
lot of what exists is aimed at tourists.

My wife has a horticulture degree and an obsession
with Australian native vegetation, so I'll have to
quiz her.

FranW: we get lemonades here sometimes too, though
they're not easy to find. Very yummy.

#7 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 01:01 AM:

There was a pile of Buddha's hands at the Pittsburgh Whole Foods market last night. They smelled wonderful, and had a texture most bizarrely similar to actual hands. I'm not sure how much actual fruit they contained, but you could certainly scrape a ridiculous amount of zest off a single fruit.

I didn't take any home with me (my sense of citrus adventurousness was damaged by an encounter with a tasteless uglifruit), but I'd be happy to swing by and pick one up if you'd like. I have no idea how well they'd handle being shipped to NYC.

#8 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 01:21 AM:

We have a Buddha's Hand plant. Can't really taste it since there's no pulp. Could candy or otherwise use the peel, I guess. We'll try to save you one of the next fruits, if the ants don't get all the blossoms like last year.

#9 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 01:40 AM:

Oh, is a Kaffir lime, from Thailand, possibly the same as the "Thai lime" you're after?

lin taking over here - Four Winds Nursery (who do mail order to many places that do not include California, which is odd since they're based here) sells Kaffir limes, Buddha's hand citrons, Ponderosa lemons (why I can't imagine - they substiture size for juice and taste), Rangpur limes, calamondins, as well as three varieties of blood oranges and various *quats. These are all trees of course, which are usually available in dwarf form and do do well in containers - even when people forget to water them sometimes in the summer.

I also have a pink variegated lemon (small fruits but tasty). There's what I think is an unimproved Meyer lemon tree in the yard, which absolutely refuses to grow straight and which produces more lemons than any household can use - there's only so much marmelade that can be consumed, and AFAIK the county zoning ordinances require each lot have one of these trees.

Citrus are notoriously promiscuous. Ask any grapefruit.

lin, botanical garden docent who can be very tiresome about plants sometimes

#10 ::: Elusis ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 02:09 AM:

I work at Whole Foods market in Denver. I can get you Buddha's Hands, and keep an eye out for anything else interesting that might turn up.

#11 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 03:33 AM:

This thread forced me outside in my pajamas to pick a couple of ripe navel oranges off one of my trees, and eat them immediately. Not an exotic species, but for someone who grew up in New York City, fun enough.

One of the communes I lived in in california had an avocado tree next to a lemon tree. Instant lunch, even more fun in the nude. Ahhh, California. I think it hit 80 again this afternoon...

Hey, you give us a hard time here everytime we have an earthquake, killer fire, mudslide, Rodney King riot, or -- wait a minute -- those all came into my immediate neighborhood. Hmmm. There ain't no such thing as a free paradise.

#12 ::: Hil ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 05:14 AM:

Hi :-). I had no idea that we had so many unusual limes here in Australia!

Our present Valencia orange crop is the lightest in thirty years - mostly due to adverse weather, but also because farmers, losing out to cheap imports of frozen orange juice concentrate from Brazil, are turning to navels and mandarines. What valencias there are at the markets look rather shabby. We can get lovely navel oranges at the moment - but they come all the way from California.

Googling around about this I read that citrus are classified as a berry, because the seeds are held in the separate segments - another thing I didn't know before!

Oh, and lemon gelati rules...

#13 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 05:17 AM:

I'm in the middle of making a big batch of carrot + parsnip soup with marmalade oranges.


#14 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 06:38 AM:

Hil wrote:
>Our present Valencia orange crop is the lightest in
>thirty years - mostly due to adverse weather, but
>also because farmers, losing out to cheap imports
>of frozen orange juice concentrate from Brazil, are
>turning to navels and mandarines. What valencias
>there are at the markets look rather shabby.

How depressing. I'd noticed poor valencias this year, but hadn't thought there were any long term problems.

#15 ::: Sam Heldman ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 07:33 AM:

Don't know if somebody already told you this, but the current Cook's Illustrated has a nice picture on the back cover of buddha's hands, sweet limes, melogolds, pomelos, etc., and says all are available at, or (619) 295-1668.


#16 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 07:50 AM:

Not sure if this has a different name in North America, but Koreans have a citrus called the "yuja" (something along the lines of an orange crossed with a lemon) that's used to make a lovely tea during the winter.

#17 ::: Alison ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 09:30 AM:

A chef at my old job used to secure Buddha's Hands from some individual in California. Apparently the fruit is non-existent and they are mainly used for cooking because their zest is so plentiful and concentrated. She made lemon biscotti out of them. I'm not a huge citrus fan, but even I liked them.

Asian grocery stores tend to be good sources for odd produce, I've found. I'm assuming that would include citrus.

#18 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 09:33 AM:

Seville oranges:

Throughout the city of Me1laga, as well as in other southern Spanish cities, you will find Seville orange trees growing as ornamentals in the parks. They bear fruit, most of which falls to the ground and lies there. I'm told marmalade makers have a deal with the city to harvest some of them, but I've never seen anyone picking them.
I'm a longtime student of wild edible plants, so I couldn't help thinking about the orange trees when i first noticed them. I had spent a long day wandering around in the rain, trying unsuccessfully to find my friends who had come down 2 weeks earlier. (I found them the next day.) I was tired and hungry in an unfamiliar city. "Say, are those oranges OK to eat?" I asked a couple teenagers who were passing by.
"Yeah," said one, "but you probably wouldn't want to."
I picked up a fairly fresh windfall fruit and pulled it open. Inside was an unappetizing mass of many seeds and lots of white rind between the sections, with relatively little pulp.
I didn't taste that orange, but later on I tried one. It was extremely tart, much more like an orange-flavored lemon than like any sort of eating or juice orange we're accustomed to. I did sometimes gather a couple of them and use their scant juice in cooking much as one would use lemon juice. If I'd had a bunch of sugar, I might have tried to make orangeade (and incidentally, it always used to be a mystery to me why anyone would ever make orangeade rather than just drink the pure juice. Now i know. I suspect that these oranges are much more like the older form of the orange tree before it was hybridized for maximum size and sweetness of fruit, relatively few seeds, etc.
In our next episode, Robert learns the hard way why you can't eat fresh olives...

#19 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 10:16 AM:

I don't have anything to add, except...

Once again, I learned that I had no idea how much I might enjoy knowing about a subject. Hostess, much thanks!

#20 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 10:18 AM:

Yonmei, what a great idea! I can't get marmelade oranges in this benighted town, alas. Do you think I could substitute blood oranges?

#21 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 12:10 PM:

I can't wait til finger limes become widely available.

Has anyone ever noticed that in time travel movies the writers always remember new gadgets, new cloths and so forth, but never new foods? I am particularly fond of grape tomatoes, which I don't believe were available until a few years ago.

#22 ::: genibee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 12:29 PM:

I grew up in various Asian countries, so I was exposed to a lot of fruits you can't get here. But since my mom's family lives in Manila, I grew up with calamansi. You can squeeze it over many noodle dishes, you can heat the juice to help a sore throat feel's great stuff. When I lived in Singapore, we had a calamansi tree in the front next to a starfruit tree, and in the back, we had a pineapple bush that would occasionally produce one tiny but very sweet pineapple.

#23 ::: Elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 01:03 PM:

I second the Asian groceries. You can find lots of weird and fascinating fruits and veggies there. I seem to remember limes, back when I lived in Portland.

I also used to get weird fruit from Asia in cans. Who knows what they really were--none of it has English labels and I'd never seen them before, with the exception of Lychee. The brand I remember most is Happy Pig.

Mmmm. Marmalade.

#24 ::: foo ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 01:11 PM:

If you want to grow a citrus orchard but are short on space, look for "fruit cocktail" trees. They have several types of citrus grafted onto dwarf rootstock and will give you an assortment of fruits97if you have a very sunny spot in your apartment.

#25 ::: psm ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 01:23 PM:

Last week I got some Hangar One vodka. They have a Buddha's Hand Citron and a Kaffir Lime vodka. Amazing stuff... It's distilled by Jorg Rupf (the St. George's Spirits guy) in an old airplane hangar on the decommissioned airbase in Alameda, CA. The people at the Caddell and Williams (800 575-9997) ship it, and are very nice.

#26 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 01:59 PM:

Here's a link to the NY Times article that won't disappear behind the pay wall.

(use the links from RSS feeds at Userland to get this effect)

#27 ::: Rachael ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 02:27 PM:

Sigh, like I said last April, we never get the really interesting fruit here. (In Minneapolis)

It is odd to me that there are so many new things out there, one gets to feeling jaded and that the whole world has been McBurgered to death. I still remember when kiwis became available, and the cherry tomatoes as someone said. Kind of gives you hope, no?

Citrus lust would make a fine theme for a vacation, make your way from New Zealand through micronesia and end up in Asia, hitting all the interesting citrus spots on the way.

#28 ::: jon singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 02:45 PM:


Before I get too far into this, I would like to suggest to Anne that although the peel of blood oranges probably isn't as bitter as the peel of the usual things people make marmalade from, my bet is that they'd be just wonderful. (I think Teresa has actually done this, and can vouch for that.) The trick is to get the right variety -- all I see around here (I'm outside Washington, DC) is 'Moro', which is sweet and bland, and doesn't have much peel or pulp color. I think there are at least three others.

On the main track:

A few of these, at least, may be fairly easy. As Christina Schulman mentions, Whole Foods has been carrying 'Buddha's Hand' lately. (Had I but known, I'd have grabbed one for you when I saw them, a couple weeks back. Sigh.) If that doesn't avail you in the short term, we will hope that the ants don't deflower Rich and Linda's tree again. Argh.

[Many thanks to Rich, btw, for mentioning Four Winds. Sounds like they have some things we've been looking for.]

One other easy item -- my buddy and boss has a chinotto bush in his greenhouse, which currently has one fruit on it. He has just given me permission to pass it along to you, and I will call you to arrange logistics. [He had a 'Buddha's Hand', too, but the heater failed last winter, in a particularly noxious manner, and that pot now contains a bouncing baby rootstock plant about 5 feet tall.]

I've seen citrangequats and limequats at Uwajimaya, in the Seattle area, and you may want to have someone out there keep an eye out for them. (I believe that citrangequat appears twice on your list, btw, and you may want to swap one of them out for limequat unless you've already tried those.) There's also the ichandarin... seems like citrus are altogether too willing to cross-fertilize, dunnit?

I have a funny suspicion that the Korean 'yuja' mentioned by Joy is the same as the bizarro variant 'yuzu' I tasted in San Diego, back in March -- it was largish and orange, and it had a flattened shape. My seedlings are only 2 or 3 inches tall, though, so you'll have to wait a while unless you can find another source.

I should also mention something called 'sudachi' that is much beloved of sushi chefs, who usually use it green. Seems to be yet another species.

At the variety level, you may want to look into 'Golden Bean', which is apparently the smallest kumquat. I'm not sure I've ever seen them; they're apparently about the size of a very large garden pea.

I had two 'Lavender Gem' seedlings once, when I was living in Sunnyvale, but some moron placidly weed-whacked them. If you find these, I'd love to have some fresh seed. Ditto anything interesting that you even suspect I might not already have. (Blood limes?? Blood limes?!!)

You know about why citrus typically come true to type from seed? (Not entirely obvious, and pretty cool if you're into botany.)

Cheers --

PS: Here's a URL that mentions quite a few citrus items --

#29 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 03:17 PM:

Candied citron peel is a fairly common item in candy shop type places here. If this isn't the case in New York, I'd be happy to smuggle some back for you next time I visit.

On the other hand, I'd be less than happy to try and smuggle in pomelo sorbet, though that's also avaliable from time to time in this one store, and deeply, deeply weird. The one guy who liked it compared its taste to battery acid, but found it strangely fascinating none the less.

#30 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 03:41 PM:

I agree with Jon, I think that "yuja" is probably the Korean pronunciation of "yuzu".

Meanwhile, I love fresh citrus, and citrus used as flavoring, and various citrus curds, but I really dislike marmalades.

#31 ::: Tim Pratt ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 04:00 PM:

We had a Buddha's Hand sitting around the Locus offices for a while, but none of us were quite sure how to go about eating it/using it as an ingredient, so it was never more than decorative.

#32 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 04:02 PM:


I love marmalades, but it's one of the few foods that reliably give me heartburn, so I rarely eat it.

#33 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 04:50 PM:

Discovered ugli fruit at the local hippie-yuppie supermarket today. Very disappointed to discover that inside that intriguing shell was nothing more exotic than a giant tangerine.

#34 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 05:01 PM:

You do know about the etrog ? It's a special citron. Can't say I know anybody who's tried one, though...

#35 ::: Berni ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 05:15 PM:

Sigh. I haven't had citrus in over 30 years. When I was in high school, my food allergies kicked in. I haven't been able to eat citrus, strawberries, or raw tomatoes since. This was particularly ironic because my parents love them and we had navel oranges, mandarine oranges, and tangerines growning in our yard (also avocado, which I didn't care for).

#36 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 05:52 PM:

I have a funny suspicion that the Korean 'yuja' mentioned by Joy is the same as the bizarro variant 'yuzu' I tasted in San Diego, back in March -- it was largish and orange, and it had a flattened shape.

The yuja doesn't have a flattened shape--it was basically the size and shape of an orange, if I remember correctly. But the name similarity is suggestive; is the yuzu from Asia? It's generally made into a marmalade, which is then dissolved in hot water to make yuja tea, which just the thing you want to drink when you have a nasty cold. Lovely stuff. I'll have to keep an eye out for the marmalade the next time I'm in a Korean grocery store.

#37 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 06:30 PM:

It's candied etrog that's on sale in the candy & nut stores in Israel, which makes a certain amount of sense -- not all the crop can be used for the religious rituals, and the growers may as well try and do something with it.

Of course, there are at least three major sub-breeds of etrog, but the packages don't really specify which is being candied. My guess is that it doesn't really matter, but then, I'm far from a candied citrus connoisseur.

#38 ::: marek ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 07:15 PM:

Yonmei, what a great idea! I can't get marmelade oranges in this benighted town, alas. Do you think I could substitute blood oranges?

You could - but it wouldn't be the same. The reason why marmalade made with Seville oranges is so special is that extremely tart fruit plus lots of sugar makes a sweet but still tart jam. Sweet fruit plus lots of sugar makes very sweet jam. The flavour of Seville orange marmalade simply cannot be beaten.

It has to be home made though. There are lots of jams where the bought variety is more than good enough to put me off the effort of making my own. I have never found a commercial marmalade which is more than a pale shadow of home made.

Making it yourself brings out one other attraction too. Seville oranges are among the last remaining strictly seasonal fruits. If you don't make your marmalade in the next few weeks, you will miss your chance until next year. I will be making my supply for the year on Saturday week. It'll be fun.

#39 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 07:38 PM:

Haven't had the Hanger One vodkas, but have gone through a bottle of Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka, which I got from a magazine I worked at (theyed used it for a photo shoot, sampled it, then put it out as a giveaway--I got there first. It's got a slightly bitter aftertaste--appropriate for something grapefruit flavored. It was a great pick-me-up chilled.
No, Jon, why do citrus seeds bear the same fruit necessarily? I'm all ears. Teresa, I was going to say: if you're such a citrus fan, you should try growing some of the seeds. I've grown grapefruit seeds before and the plants are very attractive. And if you grew a few different ones, perhaps they could pollinnate each other an make strange new ones...

#40 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 08:29 PM:

psm: A bar near us has those weird flavored vodkas. I was going to take Teresa while she was here last summer. Alas, we ran out of time.

All you citrus freaks: If you haven't read John McPhee's Oranges, run right out and do so.


#41 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 08:49 PM:

There is one pleasure of citrus that no one has mentioned yet. I lived in Ventura for about a year in the midst of many orchards. Every now and then one of the farmers would bring the machinery and top the orchard. They basically give all the trees a flat top to cause them to bush so there are more branches to grow fruit on. The aroma in the vicinity of the orchard after it has been topped is what heaven must smell like. Citrus deluxe.

#42 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 09:29 PM:

Robert, we too have slaughtered a bottle of Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit vodka; also a bottle of the Blood Orange, which was interesting but not really as outstanding as the Ruby Red Grapefruit.

#43 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 09:50 PM:

Have all the citrus fetishists present seen these pictures of the "Horrible Lovecraft/Woodring Mutant Lemon", from the previous BoingBoing link fu contest? I think it's just one fruit, but it looks like it's doing something that's illegal in Georgia.

#44 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 10:38 PM:

Jim innocently came down and said 'did you reply to Teresa?' I sent you an email, because your answer was so high here. look for one from (I'm generally a citrus lover, that 'shade' of flavoring is my fave/scents, too).

Christina, YIKES! Just YIKES! I'd be afraid to even cut that thang!

#45 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 11:43 PM:

Stuart: The aroma in the vicinity of the orchard after it has been topped is what heaven must smell like. Citrus deluxe.

Different people, different heavens. I remember what Baltimore's innner harbor was like before it was totally taken over by yuppies, when McCormick was around the corner from the Constellation -- in 1978 the pepper and cinnamon were unbelievable. (The smell of a car on a cold November day an hour after I'd stowed 50# of industrial chocolate was nothing to sneeze at, either....)

Citrus has its own benefits; bruising a bit of the skin of the kaffir lime off my brother-in-law's tree made my ConJose' hotel room livable after I'd been shut in with the glotch for a couple of days.

And then there's marmalade. Sturgeon's near-erotic descriptions of it, or Maggie Smith in Gosford Park knowing at a glance that she'd been served store-bought instead of house-made (how did she do that? Surely a trained cook could produce nice even slivers, or would heesh have done not-so deliberately?) -- must put a cap on the sweet tooth NOW before I start drooling on the keyboard....

#46 ::: elise matthesen ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 01:27 AM:

For the folks talking about cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes a ways back: yeah, those are nice, but I still love yellow pear tomatoes, which were my favorites when I was a kid. And have you had currant tomatoes yet?

Stuart: The aroma in the vicinity of the orchard after it has been topped is what heaven must smell like. Citrus deluxe. That sounds pretty good. Was it stronger at particular times of the day? Just outside the town where I grew up were fields of mint; I don't know if they harvested at night, or what, but the mint wind would come rolling in from the cool darkness of summer nights to cover the town. I still miss the mint wind.

#47 ::: Ayse Sercan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 01:57 AM:

You know about why citrus typically come true to type from seed? (Not entirely obvious, and pretty cool if you're into botany.)

I'd be interested in hearing this. Especially as we are starting our backyard orchard this spring/summer (as soon as the lead abatement is over), and it would be really cool to be able to start some of the trees from seed. It's been a dog's age since I did any grafting, so having some trees that basically cost nothing to work with would not be unappreciated.

In our next episode, Robert learns the hard way why you can't eat fresh olives...

I remember learning that lesson in two parts. First, the taste. Then, the illness.

#48 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 12:37 PM:

Teresa, check this out:

I can vouch for the English breakfast marmalade!

#49 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 12:38 PM:

BTW, Dundee Marmalade is made with those same bitter, godawful Seville oranges. It's actually more like a preserve. Here's the recipe:

#50 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 03:07 PM:

Re: fresh olives...

Ayse Sercan wrote:

"In our next episode, Robert learns the hard way why you can't eat fresh olives"

"I remember learning that lesson in two parts. First, the taste. Then, the illness."

When my wife and I moved to our current home, 15 years ago, we loved the orange trees and the brazillian silk floss trees, whose pods drop once a year and then split open to disperse fluff similar to kapok.

But we also had three mysterious trees in the back garden. A sister-in-law told us they were something or other with the disparagement assigned to weeds, and recommended digging them out.

A couple of years later, they bore fruit for the first time: olives!

Our son, then 2 years old, saw my wife pick one, bite it, grimace, and spit.

"No, Mommy," he said. "You have to put them in salty water with a white powder first and let them soak before you can eat them."

"How did you know THAT?" she asked, as he could only read part of any given newspaper story at that point, never cracked an encyclopedia, hadn't been to pre-school, and hadn't (so far as we knew) even seen a TV episode about olives. We monitored his TV viewing scrupulously, the way the government shouldn't.

"I did that in one of my other lives," he said.

My wife and I are trained scientists, now professors. We are trained to be sceptical of phenomena such as reincarnation. As Carl Sagan said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."

But he did, before the age of 3, several times show that he knew something that we couldn't explain his knowing. And not just facts.

There was an APEC meeting on TV that showed, for a second, two asian diplomats sitting at a Go board. Our son, Andrew, got very excited.

"That game! I must play that game!"

It was not clear how he even knew that Go was a game, as the diplomats weren't placing stones on the board; it was a static shot.

But I happened to have learned Go from Herman Kahn's son (the one who was the basis for Podkayne's little brother in Heinlein). Then I honed my limited skill in college with a 3-dan teacher. I was perhaps 6 months from being a rated tournament Go player.

So I found my old Go board in the garage, and set it up in the family room.

I showed Andrew the one rule, the exceptions, the exception to the exceptions, and we started to play.

But he was really playing. Not just the way a 3-year-old should. Inside an hour, he was very near the level I'd been after a month or two of college.

"How can you do that?" I said, baffled.

"In my other life, I was Chinese."

In some other country, he'd be on a throne with acolytes throwing rose petals at his feet. Here in the USA, he doesn't even remember the past lives any more. And he's in college, 2nd year, age 14, getting straight A, and the only asian thing he does, besides eating Szechuan, Thai, Vietnamese, et al., is his brown belt in Go Soku Ryu karate, including the use of his museum quality swords (one is 14th century) in lessons from the #2 rated classical Japanese swordsman in the world. The instructors all say how unsually he learns new karate -- almost as if he is remembering...

All this comes back to me now, prompted by the citrus and orange thread. Connection: olives can be made edible by long soaking in lemon juice. Can this be generalied to other citrus?

#51 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 03:26 PM:

I adore the Lovecraft lemon.

I don't know the real reason why Buddha's Hand citrons have that amazing morphology, but they've always looked to me like the lines of division that separate the fruit segments have somehow been extended out to the surface of the citron, and that meanwhile the peel has continued to obey its prime directive: to give the entire fruit a continuous smooth outer coat. The twisting and splaying of the segments is just a function of irregular growth. A round fruit that doesn't grow at a perfectly regular rate over its entire surface will at most look a little bumpy or lopsided; but any irregularities in the fingers of a Buddha's Hand will make them bend, quirk, and splay.

#52 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 03:50 PM:

Teresa, that Buddha's hand picture makes me think that the Kumquats on the little bush in my yard all grew extra long, and then ganged up together.

The Lovecraft Lemon, on the other hand, looks like at several points it decided "I'm the start of a lemon, I'll divide into segments and grow some skin around the outside". Then, while in the process of doing so, it forgot what stage of growth it was at, and started the same process again, resulting in an unruly exploding mass of segments wrapped in skin. Kind of like what would happen if the navel of a navel orange kept growing, bursting part way out of the surrounding orange, and then developed its own navel. Then that navel in turn forgot to stop growing, and grew its own navel, too.

#53 ::: Glen Blankenship ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 01:02 AM:

The "Lovecraft Lemon" is a particularly spectacular example of the bizarre malformations caused by Citrus Bud Mites. (Actually, it looks rather like two lemons - a large, ripe, extremely distorted fruit growing around a smaller, still-green, and somewhat less distorted one.)

I'd also like to hear more about citrus coming true to type from seed. Paula Kate's mother has what appears to be a grapefruit tree that produces the sweetest and least acidic grapefruit I've ever tasted. They're less acidic than most oranges, in fact. She says it may be a grapefruit/orange hybrid, but she's unsure of its exact lineage.

I'd always assumed that if it was a hybrid, it wouldn't breed true. I'd love to be able to propagate it from seed.

By the way, do you know about the University of California Riverside Citrus Variety Collection? It has over 900 varieties of citrus.

#54 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 10:57 PM:

Jonathan--You can eat olives that have soaked for a while in lemon juice? This is a new one on me. the only thing I'd heard of (besides, of course, pressing the oil out) is soaking them in brine for a minimum of 60 days, I think it is. Presumably the ancients used sea water. If lemon juice does work, then presumably any other tart citrus juice would work, or maybe even vinegar. Possibly the method of repeated leaching out the tannin with fresh water whereby one makes acorns (the ones that aren't immediately edible) OK to eat could wrk too?
Fresh olives are the most bitter thing I've ever tasted in my life.

#55 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2004, 11:01 AM:

Aparently lye also works on olives--which makes me more mystified by the lemon juice thing, since lye is, obviously, a strong base, and lemon juice is an acid...

#56 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2004, 04:12 PM:

Robert L,

Lye is the "white powder" to which my 3-year-old strangely referred. It is, as you say, caustic,
HNaO, Sodium Hydroxide. Lemon, as with all citrus, is acidic, right again.

I've only heard that lemon juice ediblizes olives. No proof in hand. I figured it was one of those things such as ceviche, where lemon juice "cooks" raw fish and shellfish. Now where is my copy of Hward McGee's "On Food and Cooking" -- a wonderful book which solves chemistry problems such as why not to beat eggs in copper bowls?

#57 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2004, 04:16 PM:

I made blood-orange marmalade this weekend. It is lovely, lovely stuff, rose-pink with peels in. However, learn from my folly and do NOT try to make a triple recipe. The Ball Blue Book says chastely that "Doubling the recipe may cause the food not to cook as expected"; tripling it caused the marmalade not to gel at all. This weekend I'll be cracking all the seals and cooking the fruit down in small batches with liquid pectin.

Note that the blood-orange marmalade I made last year from the same recipe (Ball's standard orange recipe) gelled beautifully; indeed, I cooked it too long, making it hard to pry out of the jar. But runny or stiff, it tastes wonderful.

#58 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 02:16 AM:

From the latest Logee's Catalog:

""Hardy Grapefruit"
"A citrus tree for the North! This hybrid between Ponicirus trifolata the "Hardy Orange" and the Pummello grapefruit takes periods of subfreezing temperatures with ease. Its growth and form resembles the "Hardy Orange" with fruit thatis smoothed skinned and rich orange in color. This Citrumelo came from an unheated greehouse in Newport, RI. The fruit is sour, similar to grapefruit early in the season. It has a strong root system, which is highly resistant to root diseases. We use it as an understock in grafting. Hardy Zone 7 and higher. Full sun, grows to 3-5' in container, minium temperature 35 degrees, blooms in spring. We're sorry, due to U. S. D. A. regulations, citrus cannot be shipped to TX, FL, AR, Ca. C2024-2 Each 2.5" pot $9.95. 1-800-330-8038 "

The actual facility is in Danielson, CT, a mile or so off of I think it's I-395, which is what I-290 turns into south of the Massachusetts Turnpike [I go there by heading out Worcester and driving south on I-290 crossing into Connecticut, and getting off at the exit in Danielson that has a state police building, head west on that road, turn right at the crossroads, go north until seeing North Street on the left, and head west on North Street for some relatively short distance until Logee's is there on the south side of the road.]


Something that looks like an overgrown grapefruit that isn't as sour as a grapefruit, is probably as pommelo/pumelo/pummello/shaddock... which is actually a parent of a grapefruit, the grapefruit apparently is cross between a pomelo and some other citrus fruit originally.

They also sell Buddhish Hand citrons, 2.5" pot $9.95 C2018-2, also what seems like a sweet lemon ("Looks like a lemon, smells like a lemon, but it's sweet. A hybrid of unknown origin...") and CITRUS X LIMON "OTAHEITE" ... Considered to be the best of the indoor lemons, its fruit is a deep orange color and is actually thought to be a sweet lime and not an orange."

[Note: I had a Ponicirus trifolata which survived a New England weather outside in a pot... meant to plant it but never quite got around to it.... and it didn't survive a second winter]

But at least Logee's is still where it's been for the past century plus. I was very disappointed when earlier this year, having finally decided to get my carcass over to Nor'east Minature Roses after having intended to for years, I discovered they'd -moved- to California checking on the web for directions, only a few weeks before. They have the "Scentsation" family of miniature roses, which are -extremely- fragrant.... after having some in my cars for two or three hours one spring day (bought at a New England Rose Society sale), it was three days before I didn't have to drive with the windows down in the car to avoid a migraine from the overpowering aroma [no exaggeration!]. It wasn't unpleasant, it was just way too overconcentrated! I'd never comprehended until then the reason for a profusion of roses at wakes and open casket funerals, until that day.

#59 ::: Garth Johnson ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 08:28 PM:

I have access to Budda's Hand. Where are you located?

#60 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 10:32 PM:


Where are you?

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