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Celebrate Citrus Madness!

posted on February 25th, 2016 by John Savidan

citrus1Bristol Farms is celebrating the many varieties of citrus during our four week promotion of Citrus Madness! Citrus comes in many different shapes, sizes, and flavors. In addition to the more common citrus varieties, such as navel oranges and lemons, Bristol Farms’ produce department offers some specialty citrus where you’ll find unique items, such as Ojai Pixie Tangerines and Uniq Fruit. Citrus is delicious enjoyed on its own, but can also brighten up many recipes, such as adding tangerine wedges to salads, or lemon zest to a cookie recipe. Plus, you’ll score extra Vitamin C in your diet.

During the winter months, citrus fruit takes center stage in Bristol Farms’ produce departments, and standing tall at center stage are the orange varieties. Whether it’s eating out of hand or juicing, oranges are easily the most popular of the wintertime fruits. To assist in your shopping experience of these delicious fruits, we want to share with you some helpful tips and strategies for selecting, handling, storing, and eating these popular citrus treats.

Fresh oranges are available year round, although during the winter months it is typically the navel and blood orange varieties that are most common. The orange of choice changes over to the Valencia orange during the months of February through May.

When selecting Navels, unlike the Valencia, the fruit must have an orange color all the way around without any greening whatsoever. It’s important that the fruit is nice and orange. Once the color meets to your satisfaction, then it’s time to take a look at the actual navel part of the orange located opposite the stem end of the fruit. The navel should be small in size; if it is large there is a tendency for the orange to have a thick rind with less juice than the oranges with smaller navels. Choose oranges that are strong in weight as this indicates more juice and therefore a sweeter tasting orange.

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Blood oranges are available from December through May. They are typically smaller than the navel or Valencia varieties and have a very thin skin with few or no seeds. Upon opening this orange you will see a dramatic and beautiful bright red to deep maroon interior color. Upon first bite of a blood orange, you will most likely become an immediate fan of the intense orange taste with hints of fresh raspberry. All oranges contain carotene – that’s what makes them orange. Blood oranges get their red color from high concentrations of a pigment called anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes the effects of free radicals which are the agents believed to be responsible for cancer, aging, and other health ailments.

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Valencia oranges are often considered a warmer season navel orange, even though they may have a few seeds. They do not have a navel and their skin is often a little thinner than the skin of the navel orange. Even though this fruit is deliciously sweet and completely ripe, Valencia oranges may occasionally “regreen” in warm weather. When the fruit ripens on the tree, it turns a bright orange color, as usual. But the warm temperatures of the season may make the skin reabsorb chlorophyll as it hangs on the tree causing a ripe orange to look partly green. Don’t let this color shift fool you into thinking the orange is not ready to eat – it is perfectly ripe. Often times the “regreened” Valencia oranges are a bit sweeter as the warmer temperatures elevate the fruit sugar content in the orange making for a sweeter tasting fruit.

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Visit Bristol Farms soon and discover the many other varieties of citrus while they are at the peak of the season. Comment below to let us know what your favorite variety is. For recipes and more information, visit our Citrus Madness page.

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