Each season brings its bounty of produce. Citrus fruits with their bright colors, aromatic smells and juiciness are a sunny welcome in winter. Citrus fruits range from sweet to tart flavors and are good sources of Vitamin C, potassium and folic acid. Make sure to include your favorites several times a week.
When storing citrus it is important to keep it somewhere cool (refrigerator) and not on the countertop in a fruit bowl unless you plan to eat it in a few days. I usually order oranges and grapefruits from Florida to come around the Christmas holidays and keep the large box in the garage where the cool temperature keeps the fruit for about a month. (If you live in an extremely cold climate, be certain that it will not freeze in the garage.) Citrus fruits include Clementines, grapefruits, blood oranges, oranges, tangerines and pomelos (or pummelos). Lemons and limes are in the citrus family but few varieties are sweet enough to eat.
Clementine is a variety of mandarin orange. Clementines are smaller than tangerines and are easy to peel and separate and best of all are almost always seedless. They have less acid than oranges and are generally available from mid-November through January. They are all around favorites but especially for kids since they are easy to peel and eat and are perfect when packing a lunch.
Grapefruits do not have magical proprieties to melt away fat. They do have only about 120 calories for one whole fruit. Grapefruits have white, pink or red pulps and can vary in sweetness. Don’t limit grapefruit to breakfast. You can cut grapefruit into wedge or eat by sections. They work well tossed in a salad. Grapefruit can interfere with some medications such as beta-blockers; check with your pharmacist or doctor if you have questions.
Blood oranges are relatively new to the United States. It is thought that the name may have come from a 15th century Sicilian region where these oranges were squeezed into a juice; the crimson color of the juice was reminiscent of blood and hence the name blood oranges. The fruit is a variety of an orange but usually smaller and the flesh and often the skin are a deep crimson color. The skin is harder to peel than an orange. Interestingly, the Vitamin C content is higher in blood oranges than all other orange varieties.
Blood oranges are native to Italy and Spain. I first tried them when in Italy back in 1999; at that time I had not seen them in the United States, but was excited when a year or two later they were available. Blood oranges are now grown in Texas, Florida and California and are available from December to March although in my grocery store I don’t see them until February or March. This works well since they are available after the Clementine season is over.
Oranges are a hybrid likely from a mandarin and pomelo. Navel oranges come in season first while Valencia oranges come in later in the season. Navel oranges have a thick skin, which is easy to grate or zest. Orange zest or grated peel adds a nice orange flavor. Quarter an orange and you are more likely to entice kids or adults to eat.
A pomelo or pummelo is larger than a grapefruit and is usually pale green to yellow when ripe. A pomelo is big and can weigh up to 1-2 pounds. The taste is similar to a grapefruit but much milder.
I hope you are looking forward to the fruits that will be in season for the next few months. When trying something new, try it a couple of times. When picking out citrus fruits pick out heavy feeling fruits; they are generally juicier. Dry citrus is always a disappointment and you may happen upon them occasionally, but don’t judge the taste when this occurs.
Post your favorite citrus fruit?
1. “Blood Oranges.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundations accessed December 4, 2010
2. “Pomelo.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundations accessed December 4, 2010