What is albedo

Citrus fruits are berries or fruits in which albedo is more appreciable. Normally we discard this part of the skin (the albedo is the white part of the citrus skin, the bitter one), but many avant-garde chefs find in this element an interesting component for their dishes.

To describe what albedo is, we will give a brief review of the anatomy of citrus fruits , as it is the berry or fruit in which this component is more appreciable and because we mention it many times when we talk about oranges, lemons, etc., although Not always by name. The truth is that the term albedo related to fruits is used very little, (albedo also has another meaning: (From the lat. Albēdo ‘whiteness’). Reason between the luminous energy that diffuses by reflection a surface and the incident energy. ( RAE)).

As we can see, the word albedo (such as albus, albho, albumin, albidus) is related to whiteness, white, whitish … So, what is albedo ?, because what is usually defined in citrus as the white part of the skin , that we always say that we must remove when we use the colored part of the skin or peel it alive because it is bitter.

A citrus is basically composed of the endocarp, the mesocarp or albedo and the exocarp or flavedo. The endocarp is what we call fruit pulp, while the skin is composed of mesocarp and exocarp, or albedo and flavedo. If the albedo is the white part of the citrus skin, the flavedo is the most visible part of the skin, the one that has color (the one that corresponds to the citrus, green, yellow, orange …) and the one that contains the glands of aromatic oil, with which so many recipes are enriched.

Although it seems that albedo is always a discarded part of these fruits, it must be said that it has its virtues, since it is the part of the skin that contains more pectins, which among other things, are necessary for the preparation of jam. The albedo can be thicker or thinner, more spongy or hard, depending on the citrus we are talking about, while in the lime we find a fine mesocarp, in the citron (citron), grapefruit, yuzu or some varieties of orange, We get a thick albedo.

It may be curious that in haute cuisine there are dishes that have albedo as a raw material of a preparation, the first we know is a recipe from Ferrán Adrià, the Espardeñas with mashed albedo (recipe that appears in the book of the chef of elBulli de la Kitchen with signature collection , 2007).

Rodrigo de la Calle, Marcos Morán or Paco Roncero, among other chefs, also work with albedo in their dishes. They look for the citric and bitter contribution of this part of the skin, but softening it, which is achieved by bleaching it, since the phenolic (bitter) compounds are soluble in water. In popular cuisine it has been done regularly, most of you have made or tasted candied orange peels, right?

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