HELLO SPRING, GOODBYE PEAK SEASON CITRUS
With the arrival of all the fresh spring produce, we often forget the fact that the citrus season is coming to an end. I mean, you can get lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit etc. all year round, so why would you miss it? But the citrus family goes far beyond those 4 common fruits. Below are a few of my favorites and how I like to preserve them until they are back in season next winter!
Meyer lemons are a hybrid of a lemon and a mandarin or orange. These guys are my go-to for salad dressings (and cocktails) because of their sweetness and when I don’t want that acidic, lemon-y taste that a regular lemon gives me. You can find them in your grocery store in the winter but, lately, they've become more popular and can be found year round in most specialty stores. They have a more orange tinge to their flesh as opposed to their “parent” the regular yellow lemon and are a bit softer. Preserving lemons in the traditional, Moroccan style is really easy and adds amazing, bright flavor to recipes. All you need is a bunch of lemons (Meyer or otherwise), jars and salt! Although they are traditional in tagines, stews and savoury dishes, a preserved lemon curd is another great use for them.
These little, olive-sized fruits are amazing - they are super healthy for you, and I grew up with a kumquat tree in my backyard. I remember trying them at intervals as they ripened and went from really tart to a floral sweetness. As opposed to the other citrus fruits, you can pop them in your mouth, peel and all. The have a lightly sweet, tangy flavor and are packed full of vitamin C and fiber. These are probably one of my favorite citrus fruits and when I can find them in the stores I buy a bunch to preserve them and make marmalades or chutneys…or both!
These beautiful, blood red-colored oranges are my favorite flavor for fresh squeezed OJ or for the Dominican drink, morir sonando. They are the primary orange grown in Italy, so you will find many Italian recipes with it as a main ingredient (i.e. ricotta cakes, gelato, Italian soda). They often have a sweet bite to them but can also be very tart, which makes them perfect for a fresh bite in your salad. You can preserve them much the same way you do lemons or Meyer lemons or go the chutney/marmalade/curd route, but I also loooove this recipe for orangecello, an orange-y take on limoncello! It's genius to throw in a vanilla bean.
Also known as the Chinese grapefruit, these guys are much larger than your average grapefruit; they also have a much milder, sweeter flavor to them as well. They are native to South and Southeast Asia (I ate my way through them in the form of salads when I was Thailand) and can be found in most asian grocery stores. They go great in a simple noodle dish, on seafood and are perfect for any citrus-y cocktail. For these, making a candied peel is a great way to preserve their flavor.
I am now addicted to these delicious ‘oranges’, but unfortunately their season just ended! Sumos are a hybrid between a navel orange and a mandarin. Larger than your average orange, much easier to peel, super sweet and juicy, I haven’t had a bad one yet! They took 30 years to develop in Japan and were only available in California but they have finally made their way to the East Coast during their short season. You could add these to any recipe that calls for citrus…..sure. But every time I buy these in the store I eat them so fast they don’t make it in to my cooking!