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!
8 Ways to Love A Bag of Oranges (or Citrus)
The cheery view of a bowl of fruit on your counter in the winter is also a good way to remind yourself (and your family) to eat more every day! Americans have plenty of room to enjoy more fruit as part of their healthy habits – here are some fresh ideas for enjoying a bag of oranges (and other bagged fresh citrus options) that will color your plate with great!
- Sweet and Simple – Peel a fresh navel orange and indulge in the fresh, juicy goodness! You can also slice them into wedges and share, a good idea for smaller children. Surprise them with the aromatic, juicy Cara Cara orange, with its spectacular rosy color! There may be a few seeds, so check before sharing!
- Slice any citrus fruit into rounds, and place on parchment paper on a sheet pan. Freeze, and then bag for use in water or as fun garnish for beverages, desserts, seafood – your call!
- If you are juicing an orange, or any other citrus, roll it first to max extracting juice from the pulp – the little juice vesicles in the fruit segments. That will ensure you get as much juice as possible. Then, toss the spent halves into a bag in the freezer, to use for zest and a few other ways we will share – keep reading! Check out the kitchen section in stores for great citrus press to make it easy!
- Segment an orange, mandarin, minneola tangelo, grapefruit or pomelo, and add to any fresh salad. Oranges, mandarins and tangelos pair beautifully with peppery arugula (rocket) greens and vibrant radicchio. Fresh baby spinach is mild and pairs with all citrus. Grapefruit and pomelos like sweet, buttery lettuces, with a sweet dressing, like a light raspberry vinaigrette. Check out your favorite fresh salad kit – add mandarin segments to chipotle cheddar, orange segments to honey pecan, and grapefruit to enhance poppyseed. A squeeze of fresh lemon on a bagged Caesar salad brings some added zing to that savory staple!
- Sweet salvage – Those leftover peels and halves are good for some, such as dried for potpourri (easy to drop into a small crockpot with a cinnamon stick!), or zested into sugar or salt and used for seasoning. For those who prep early – there is just enough acid in the spent citrus halves/peels to minimize browning in cut apple or potato – just drop one of the frozen halves in the water before you cook/serve them.
- Citrus serves up flavor, color and energy in spritzers, smoothies and spirits. Cocktail and mocktail drinks with lime, lemon and orange are plentiful, with quite a few on the recipes link at Pricechopper.com. Don’t forget the grapefruit – brighten up your day when you slice them up and garnish grapefruit drinks, sparkling waters, and grown-up only shandies and hard seltzers.
- Sassy salsas – Chopped orange, grapefruit, or mandarin, with some chopped onion, garlic and herbs (rosemary, parsley, cilantro, basil all work) and zest from the fruit make a super salsa topper for chicken, turkey, pork or seafood.
- Clean up time – If you are exploring cleaning with white vinegar, consider dropping a few solid peel slices into the vinegar first – they should infuse for about a week. The peel will release its acid and aroma into the vinegar, adding a little cleaning energy and fresh scent to the spray. A 50/50 mix of infused vinegar and water in a spray bottle will arm you with a fresh way to clean up!