Seasonal 101: Guide to Citrus Fruits

Food
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Food: Halved and partly squeezed lemons with yellow citrus squeezer

Most citrus fruits are accessible all year round. Have you ever been to the grocery store and seen the produce section void of oranges, lemons or limes? Even when the most popular citrus fruits are readily available, buying in-season fruits makes a big difference in the flavor and texture of your fruit or final recipe.

When fruits or vegetables are consumer out of season, they were most likely grown in an unnatural environment like a hothouse or were shipped from a different country where tropical temperatures are the norm all year round.

Fruit is healthiest and most tasty when first picked. When it is chilled and stored in a hothouse, or shipped halfway around the world, it means the fruit spends quite some time languishing on a shelf before it arrives at to your kitchen table.

What is the bottom line? You should always buy fruit grown as locally as you can, when you can.

Citrus Fruits: Seasonal Guide

Winter:

In general, during the winter, fruit with an orange skin is your friend. Easy to peel tangerines and tangelos are great for snacking, while Navel and Rich Ruby Red Navel oranges are juicy and refreshing — perfect for hydrating against the cold winter air. Also look for some lesser known varietals like Honeybells, which are sweet tangerine-grapefruit hybrids and temple oranges, sweet and tangy tangerine-orange hybrids.

Spring:

Look for grapefruits, lemons, limes, navel oranges, tangerines and kumquats. Not only delicious, your favorite citrus flavors, when eaten in their purest form, are packed with health benefits. While too sour for snacking, lemon and lime are refreshing and help the body with detoxification and digestion. Add slices of fresh citrus to your pitcher or water bottle and enjoy them in H20.

Summer:

Though your favorite citrus fruits are readily available all year round, summer is a great time to look to more local options. Berries are at their best in the summer months. Stock up on vitamin C rich strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. If you’re looking for more than snacking, try adding berries to your desserts, drinks or even salads. Interested in trying a less popular berry? Try the sweet yet tart berry boysenberry. Keep your eyes peeled for other summer fruits such as peaches, nectarines and plums.

Fall:

It’s no wonder that apple picking is a common fall activity. Apples are most in season during these months and are great for recipes. In addition to baking apple pies, there are many other ways to use apples. Make delicious Apple Bruschetta with baguettes, brie cheese and sliced granny smith apples. Apples also serve non-consumption purposes such as ripening other fruits and vegetables more quickly by just setting them in the same bowl and keeping brown sugar soft by placing a slice in the container. Pears are also at their prime in the fall months. Like apples, pears go great with cheese but also meats. Next time you add bacon to your grilled cheese, toss in a few pear slices for a sweet and savory sandwich.

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Delicious and Nutritious:

According to the Dairy Council of California, the vitamin C in citrus fruit strongly enhances the absorption of iron in food. Vitamin C binds to iron in the digestive tract and the iron-vitamin C complex is absorbed together.

There are a number of other ways that citrus fruits can help keep you healthy: they curb hunger and boost metabolism, citric acid helps with heart health, vitamin C keeps skin and immune systems healthy and flavonoids help make vitamin C more potent and improve blood flow, which leads to normal blood pressure and reduced inflammation.

Beyond the Kitchen:

Fruit can be used for more than tickling your taste buds. The nutrients packed into these round beauties are good for everything from your face to your bathroom floor. Here are just a few ways you can use citrus besides eating:

Heal rough skin with grapefruit or lemons. The vitamin C and mild acid that they contain can help get rid of dark and rough patches on knees and elbows. Cut the fruit in half, put some sugar on it and rub your skin lightly until smooth.

Whiten teeth. Save money by making a homemade teeth whitener with baking soda and lemon juice. Use

Eliminate dandruff.  Massage your scalp with honey and lemon juice for a few minutes then rinsing. Add olive oil for extra moisture.

Heal blackheads and acne. Run a lemon across your face and add honey before dabbing it on your blackheads. Wait 5-10 minutes before rinsing it off in cold water.

Soften skin. Get rid of dry, flaky skin with a tangerine facial mask. Take 3 or 4 slices of tangerine, discard seeds then blend with one tablespoon of yogurt and honey. Apply to face for 10-20 minutes then rinse with cold water. Continue twice per week for oily skin and once per week for normal to dry skin.

Clean your bathroom.  Use the extra pulp and rind of grapefruit. Dip the juiced half in a plate of salt and rub over the bathroom while squeezing excess juice out as you go. The citric acid dissolves dirt and grime while the salt disinfects. Rinse everything with water afterwards.

Store Your Citrus:

Grapefruit, tangerines and navel oranges can be stored at room temperature for seven days or in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. It will be more sweet if you return to room temperature just before serving. Once cut, refrigerate leftovers for no more than 4 days. For lemons, limes and kumquats, store them in a tightly zipped plastic bag in the refrigerator.

 

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