A Lesson in Winter Citrus Fruits
If you’re looking to add a little brightness to these cold winter months, you’re not alone. Although a variety of fruits peak in their sweetness and juiciness in the summertime, citrus shines in all its glory in January and February. And a huge health bonus for you – citrus fruits are rich in potassium, fiber, and vitamin C, which can act as an immunity booster to keep you from catching a pesky winter cold. From funny-looking Sumo Mandarins to tangy Texas Grapefruit to gourmet Meyer lemons, we have every citrus variety you could ever dream of in our stores right now, all from our trusty and loyal farmers who bring us only the best fruit each and every year.
Here’s your guide to everything Winter citrus – the look, taste, and texture of the fruits plus recipe tips for a few as well.
Mandarin oranges are a small, loose-skinned variety that are typically sweet juice bombs much less acidic than a common orange. There are many types of Mandarin oranges, including clementines, Satsumas, and tangerines. Choose mandarins that feel heavy and simply peel and enjoy as a quick snack on-the-go.
Sumo Mandarins are huge, easy-to-peel, and definitely interesting to look at. They’re irresistibly tasty underneath the bright orange, bumpy peel and distinctive shape. They’re seedless like the Satsuma variety and large and sweet like common oranges, truly combining the best of both worlds. Eat them straight or add segments to a salad. Pro tip: they’re big enough to share!
Valencia Oranges are also known as “juicing oranges” since they are quite literally, the juiciest variety of oranges and mandarins. And while we love this easy-to-squeeze variety in a glass for delicious sipping, they’re also the orange you want to use for desserts and sweet breakfast items like Orange Crepes.
Navel oranges are a seedless, winter variety that are sweeter than Valencias. They are easily distinguishable due to their trademark “belly button” on the fruit’s blossom end, which is actually an undeveloped twin fruit. Unlike Valencia oranges, Navels are better eaten fresh rather than juiced, either as a snack or in a salad with arugula and walnuts.
Satsuma tangerines originated in Japan over 700 years ago. They are seedless, have a lighter orange color skin, and are very tender and delicate. They have loose skins that are easy to peel and are delectably sweet, although the pulp is sometimes slightly tart. Use Satsumas in salads, stir-frys, custards, and even smoothies for a little extra zing!
Cara Cara Oranges
Cara Caras might look like your average orange from the outside, but once you cut into them, you will be greeted with a memorable, pretty pinkish flesh. They are low on acid but high in sweetness, with a mild and refreshing flavor. They provide a bright pop of color and a natural aroma to salads but also taste great in sauces to glaze over chicken or tofu or in a rich marmalade.
Popular with chefs, blood oranges have a speckled orange and red peel with a dark pink or ruby fruit on the inside. Their flavor is similar to a standard citrus with a delicious raspberry edge. They tend to be on the smaller side with a thick, pitted skin. Blood oranges serve as a beautiful and striking garnish in cocktails and fruit salads and also work wonderfully in desserts such as sorbet.
Not to be confused with standard, sour lemons, Meyer lemons contain a wonderfully aromatic and deep yellow skin with a mild and sweet flavor. The flesh isn’t too tart, making it a gourmet addition in both sweet and savory dishes. Use in lemon bars for dessert, as a complement to roast chicken, or try out a creamy and tangy curd to spread liberally on scones and fruit tarts. A great tip is to roll the lemons on a flat surface to release juices before cutting.
Grapefruits are a very popular citrus choice that can actually be found year-round depending on the variety. Their skin colors range from green to gold and their flesh ranges from yellow to crimson. The Texas or pink variety is the most palatable type with a mild and tangy sweetness that is perfect for juicing or eating alone with a spoon for breakfast. Their peel color actually varies from pale yellow to pink and the pulp can be white to red. White grapefruits on the other hand are much more tart and work better in savory uses, while the Oro Blanco, or white gold variety, are the least bitter and delicious in salads and desserts.