Written By: Chef Peggy Aoki
Citrus fruit was a seasonal luxury in the early days of the last century before refrigerated trucking and cold storage kept our grocery stores stocked all year. Oranges, lemons, and juicy grapefruits offered color and dreams of sunny days to chilled purchasers far from their warm groves.
Today, thanks to refrigerated trucking and extended cold storage, grocery stores offer citrus fruit all through the year, but winter is the season to find the best juicy and sweet seasonal citrus. Look for Cara Cara oranges, blood oranges, pink grapefruit and other varieties that you won’t see out of season. Even the average navel oranges you see year-round will be at their best right now.
To pick the best citrus, hold one in your hand and notice the weight. A juicy citrus will feel heavy and firm. Select the heaviest fruits after checking several. If you are lucky enough to live near a year-round farmer’s market, you might be able to taste the fruit before buying. Some citrus are harder to peel but the taste is worth the effort– you’ll need to take that taste to know!
Citrus recipes for inspiration:
Bright wheels of citrus make a delicious and simple dessert or salad. Peel or cut the skin off and layer them on a serving plate. For a salad, add contrasting winter flavors such as thinly sliced fennel, briny sliced olives and a drizzle of honey. You can also sprinkle them with chili powder if you enjoy a bit of spice.
For an amazingly simple dessert, melt ½ cup sugar into a light caramel and pour it over peeled, sliced oranges. The caramel will at first set into a shiny crackle coat, but will eventually mix with the juice of the oranges and become a delicious sauce. Serve the oranges and their caramel with ice cream or Greek yogurt.
Before you cut your citrus, you can zest some of the colored peel and mix it with salt to create a citrus finishing salt that’s great on grilled meats. Or mix finely grated citrus zest with equal parts granulated sugar to sprinkle on cookies or rim cocktail glasses.
To learn more tricks with citrus, book a private class with a Fēst chef! We can work with you to make the best of your CSA box, or check out our Citrus Pavlova with Grapefruit Curd class to learn the ins and outs of creamy and zesty citrus curd. You could also turn your citrus into a mixology experience in our bar classes, including the Sparkling Cocktails class. We are looking forward to showing you how to work with seasonal produce in your own kitchen.
Fēst, pronounced 'feast', is a collective of Chefs, Pastry Chefs and Sommeliers who teach guided, interactive and completely customizable classes to cooking-curious people of all skill levels around the world.