Lemon Oil

Lemon Oil -

Almost the entire supply of the oil of the lemon rind is produced in Sicily and is still obtained by hand processes - the small factory output, which is darker in appearance, being principally employed to heighten the color of the hand-made oil. The two most widely used methods are known as the "two-piece sponge" and the "three-piece sponge," the distinction referring to the number of pieces into which the rind is cut. The former generally produces oil with the smallest percentage of water to be afterwards separated, but that from the latter is said to filter more rapidly and keep clean longer.

For the three-piece method, the lemons are cut lengthwise into three slices. The pulp is first removed - the juice to be expressed and sold to the manufacturers of citric acid, and the residue to be used for animal food - and then the peel is put into large baskets and stored in a cool place for some hours until it is considered in the proper condition for pressing.

Each workman engaged in extracting the oil has in front of him a tin-lined copper bowl and holds in his left hand a medium-sized sponge of superfine quality, which has previously been very carefully washed. He also holds other small sponges between the fingers of the same hand to prevent the loss of any of the oil, which is very volatile. With the right hand he takes a piece of peel from the basket and squeezes it against the sponge, thus forcing the oil through the pores of the rind into the sponge. When the sponge is full of essence it is squeezed into the bowl. In order to make sure that the peel has yielded all the essence that can be pressed out by hand, the overseer from time to time tests the rejected peel by squeezing it close to a flame. If there is any essence left, it is forced through the flame and produces a flash of light. (Children try the same experiment with orange peels.) The used peel is put into brine and sold to manufacturers of "candied lemon peel."

When the bowls are full, they are set aside for a short time to permit the impurities to settle and then the contents are carefully decanted, the clear essence going into large tin-lined copper vessels. Before shipment, the product is passed through filter paper to purify it and give it limpidity, and is finally transferred to copper bottles of various standard sizes.

The quantity and quality of essence yielded varies according to the season. During November, December and January, when the greater part of the supply is manufactured, one thousand lemons will give about one and a half pounds of essence. Lemons not fully ripe are preferred, as they yield a larger quantity and more fragrant quality than those fully matured. A small amount of essence is made during the spring and summer, but the product lacks the delicate fragrance of that made in the winter.

Arround Lemon Oil in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

Lemon Juicehome
Lemon Peel

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