Citrus to the Max!
Winter brings fresh citrus to the store and to your table – during the cold and sometimes gloomy days of winter, the bright smell of lemon or orange can add energy to your day and your recipes! As we also keep an eye on budgets and value, taking advantage of the seasonal abundance of oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes, tangerines, clementines, mandarins and more, check out these culinary and climate-smart hacks and tips to take your citrus to the max!
Get a smart start – take advantage of seasonal citrus sales, then store them well. Most citrus is fine on the cool kitchen counter for about 5 days, but you risk losing what isn’t used up as it dries out and loses quality much beyond that. Some tips to make the most of what is fresh and fabulous:
- Wash citrus before prepping or storing. Store in the refrigerator for best shelf life.
- Use a zester or micro plane to capture the flavor and fiber benefits of fruit zest. There are so many ways to use it:
- Add a teaspoon or two of zest to a small jar of salt or sugar – sprinkle on anything you are looking for a little burst of flavor – liven up leftovers and zip up sweet treats.
- Zest and juice fruits and freeze them together in ice cube trays. Once frozen, you can add the juice and zest cubes to water, soups, teas and cocktails anytime.
- Freeze whole fruits for zesting and juicing later – store in a freezer bag with as much air as possible removed.
- Keep citrus peels from snacks/recipes and let them dry out on a counter or windowsill – they make great fresheners for the sink disposal – last thing you do before you finish cleaning the kitchen!
- Slice and dehydrate citrus in an air fryer (check appliance directions) or your regular oven – lay uniform thin slices 1 inch apart on a foil-lined sheet pan, lightly sprayed with oil. Oven temperature should be about 200 °F, time will be 2 – 6 hours, depending on size of fruit. Check out more how-to’s and ideas at The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
- Beyond the plate – dried citrus fruit and zest is also great to use for decorating, such as festive dried fruit garlands and potpourri.
- How about a homemade citrus cleaner? Check out this easy-make method from US Citrus.
- Preserved or pickled, easy freezer jams, jellies and spreads -add a dash of the Mediterranean to seafood or poultry recipes with preserved lemons with thyme or oregano, or explore a rosy, luscious Cara Cara orange curd for a special cake, or a beautiful tart decorated with ruby-kissed dried orange slices.
- Treat yourself – one of my favorite recipes – overnight oats with fresh or frozen fruit, chia seeds, PICS Greek yogurt and lemon curd.
So many ways to enjoy the winter bounty of citrus our Produce Team has worked to source and bring to your local store – enjoy!
10 Ways to Love Lemons and Limes
Lemons and limes are major culinary collaborators, complimenting and enhancing many flavors, used in beverages, baking, and dishes from breakfast to dessert. They are essential to some cuisines – lemons front and center in Mediterranean and Italian dishes, limes synonymous with Southwestern, Caribbean, Thai and Mexican specialties. Every chef, foodie and dietitian has favorite ways to use the juice, zest and fruit of these citrus superstars.
Good to know:
- Lemons and limes should be washed under cool running water before use.
- A large lime or medium lemon will yield about ¼ cup of fresh juice.
- Store lemons and limes in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks
- Lemons and limes can be frozen – sliced in rounds or quarters, frozen individually on a parchment covered sheet pan, then bagged for use within 3 months.
- Add lemon or lime juice to pan sauces at the end of cooking, after removing from heat.
- Too much lemon and lime can curdle dairy – check ingredient ratios for best results.
- Lemon or lime juice can be used to minimize browning in apples and potatoes
- Fresh zest is best – lemon and lime zest lose flavor with exposure to air
- Lemon juice can substitute/reduce the need for added salt in some recipes.
Power pairings – lemons and limes are easy to use with a variety of herbs and spices. Check out this luscious list for some inspiration!
Butter, basil, ginger, honey, pepper, rosemary, garlic, parsley, thyme, oregano, Dijon, parmesan, dill, blueberry, and raspberry.
Lavish limes in dishes with:
Coconut, curry, chili, cilantro, coconut, chipotle, mango, hoisin, red pepper, jalapeno, cranberry, raspberry, and blackberry.
Bring that zing to your table with some great recipes:
Roasted Garlic Parmesan Dip (also a great sauce for chicken or seafood!)