Citrus Oils: Processing, Technology, and Applications

Citrus fruits have evolved to become an important constituent in the modern diet. Because of the most pleasing, clean, refreshing and versatile aromas, which connote health and vitality, the volatile byproducts of citrus fruits, i.e. the citrus oils, also have become important in today’s society.

It is speculated that plants of the genre Citrus originated in New Guinea-Melanesia. Evolution of the citrus fruits probably then flourished in Southeast Asia. The cultivation of citrus species extended to India and eventually to the Mediterranean. Ultimately, citrus fruits were brought to the fertile, warm environment of the Americas.

In 1732, Kramer first reported the relationship between citrus fruit and antiscorbutic activity. The inclusion of such citrus fruits as oranges and limes in the diet of seamen in the Royal British Admiralty has been reported and even romanticized, giving rise to the term “limey” for British sailors. Only in about the last century, however, have citrus fruits become an integral part of tbe human diet. And while they are now associated with nutrition and health, earlier, due to their high cost and appealing flavor, they were probably enjoyed as sweets or desserts. It was not until the advent of modern processing technology, such as the development of the TASTE (thermally accelerated short time evaporator), after the second World War, that the use of citrus fruits flourished.

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