It's citrus season! According to Produce Expert, Josh Alsberg, they're like little balls of sunshine sent to brighten the dark winter days. He stopped by to share his helpful tips. You'll find more inspiration from Josh on his Instagram.
It's the very height of citrus season! You'll find more variety and more juicy, delicious oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes and grapefruits right now than you will at any time of year. They are like little balls of sunshine, here to sweeten the darkest part of the year.
Here's what to look for:
- Oranges don't just come in orange anymore! Under the skin you can now find beautiful shades of pink, peach and crimson red.
- Cara cara navel oranges have the sweet, orange taste of a navel orange with a beautiful pink color. Little kids love opening up these oranges and finding the pink surprise!
- Blood oranges are smaller and a bit more intense, but they have a dramatic appeal with their deep, dark sunset colors. They are perfect for salads - just peel and slice into rings and toss with the season's watercress or radicchio.
Tangerines and mandarins:
- Tangerines come in adorable, adorabl-er and adorabl-est these days, with flavors that range from simple and sweet to complex and honey-flavored.
- Satsumas are easy to peel and are juicy, but are tart enough for adults as well as kids. Look for fruit with the leaves, and the leaves are still green and glossy - it's a great way you can tell that your satsuma is fresh.
- Kishu mandarins are the tiniest and cutest mandarins on the market. They are super easy to peel and have a simple, sweet flavor - toddlers and young children LOVE Kishus!
Lemons and limes:
- Meyer lemons have been all the rage the last few years - they grow well in Northern California and even southern Oregon. They have a floral scent and a slightly sweeter flavor that makes for delicious lemon tarts and custards. Remember to use both the juice and the zest for the best flavor!
- Finger limes are a big surprise inside a tiny package. Cut and squeeze the inside to discover little pearls of pink, lime-y deliciousness. They are great for adding a pop of color on a dessert or a bit of sparkle to a cocktail.
- Many people don't know that limes shouldn't be dark green all over - that means they're underripe! Look for limes with thinner skins a touches of lighter green and even a little yellow for the best juice.
How to pick perfect citrus every time:
- Make sure your citrus is juicy! They should feel heavy for their size and when you squeeze it, the skin shouldn't feel too thick.
- Choose citrus that has smoother skin. This "tell" let's you know that your orange or lemon will be packed with juice.
- Skin blemishes like discoloration and small, rough, tan patches are perfectly fine. Avoid fruit with obvious mold or mushy soft spots.
Orange and lemon zest are great ingredients for flavoring everything from risotto to cake. A citrus fruit's flavorful oils are all in the skin. The easiest way to get all that flavor is to use a microplane to gently peel off the colorful zest directly into whatever you are making. But keep in mind, if you are making a dish using the zest you'll want to get organic citrus.