I know the summertime lemonade stand is a classic but did you know that citrus season is actually in the winter. Citrus produce is inexpensive and tastes the best right now. So start dreaming of warmer days to come and stock up on some of the many delicious varieties of citrus today. You can even find unique varieties like sweet Meyer lemons, blood oranges and tangerines in abundance. Use this guide to save you time and money by learning how to store citrus best.
How to store Citrus
Look for clean peels, no shriveling or signs of decay produce should be firm and plump. Pick fruit that feels heavy for it’s size. Fruit that feel hard and doesn’t yield to light pressure was usually stored improperly or past it’s prime and will be less juicy. Citrus do not continue to ripen once they have been picked. Ripe fruit will have very bright and vibrant colors. Don’t toss out Fruit that has slight discoloration, a small amount of brown around the seeds, is usually acceptable to eat and a little green is ok. Avoid Dull looking fruit can indicate over ripeness and an abundance of greenish skin can mean that the fruit is under ripe.
Storage and Location:
Room Temperature or Chill it: Citrus can keep for up to one week on the counter. Room-temperature fruit tends to yield more juice than cold fruit. To keep them longer store them in the refrigerator’s produce bin. Be sure to rotate the fruit regularly to maintain airflow. Citrus stored in a refrigerator should keep for approximately one month.
Keep an eye on it:
Warmer temperatures will make them citrus spoil faster. If the room tends to be on the warmer side place the fruit bowl into the fridge at night.
Take Extra Care:
* Note that lemons and limes in particular tend to dry out faster than other citrus like oranges. Keeping them is a mesh bag typically helps them stay juicier longer.
*If your citrus is starting to turn you can still save the juice and zest. The zest is the flavorful oil packed outer edge of the peel, the colored parts of the rind not the white pith. It can be used to add an extra punch of flavor to items like soups and sauces. Use a “zester” or vegetable peeler to pull strips of zest off the fruit, allow to dry individually (in non humid weather, this takes 1 to 2 days). Then store in a jar in the pantry. The strips can also be candied, pickled our used to make homemade cleaning supplies. You can also freeze the juice and zest in ice cube trays and store in zippered freezer bags.
What’s your favorite variety?
Here is a little more about some common citrus. In a general citrus guide.
Orange: A mandarin-pomelo hybrid categorized into navels, blood oranges and Valencias.
Navels: Season from November into May. These are mainly eaten as fresh fruit as they contain limonin, which creates a bitter taste after processing. They have a thick peel and lower juice connect making them good for eating and using in salads.
Cara Cara: Is a type of navel; that is slightly sweeter and has a brighter pink to red flesh.
Blood Oranges: Season January through March. They are dark crimson inside, they taste sweet, tart and sometimes bit berry-like.
Valencias: Season April to December. They are typically used for juice as they’re more tart, juicier and not very easy to peel. Some can regreen in the hot summer weather; so don’t toss them out for slightly less than perfect looks make homemade orange juice instead.
Mandarins: These cover a broad range of fruits that include Satsuma, clementine, tangelo and tangerine. They’re generally smaller, flatter and sweeter than oranges, they are easier to peel and section, and contain less seeds.
Satsuma Mandarins: Season November to January. They have a good balance of sweet and tart and are seedless.
Clementine: Season December- January. They are smaller, easy to peal and eat out of hand. They have a slight taste of apricot. They are only seedless if grown in isolation from other citrus.
Tangelos: Season December to March, are a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. They’re tangy and juicy with a bump-like stem end.
Tangerines: Season December to May depending on variety. They are also easy to peel but so contain seeds. These are also great for juicing.
Grapefruit: Season September-to-June, a cross between an orange and a pomelo. Pink- and white-fleshed varieties have skin that ranges from pale yellow to faintly blush-colored. Some grapefruit tends to lose its bitterness and be sweetest in the spring, Grapefruit is also intolerant of freezing conditions, I learned this one by accident.
Pomelo or Pummelo: Season November to April. The largest of all citrus fruits, it looks like a grapefruit on steroids. The rind is thick and the flesh has a “meaty texture”. They have a refreshingly sweet taste with a mildly tart flavor with very little to no bitterness. The interior can be white or pink. They have a wonderful fragrance and make for delicious additions to breakfast, salads, desserts, or can be used to create exotic cocktail.
Lemon: Available year-round. The two most common types are the Eureka and Lisbon. The Meyer lemon: Season December to February is a lemon-orange hybrid with a thinner rind, rounder shape and a sweet, less sour flavor. They are great used in fresh applications, as the district flavor and aroma are usually lost when cooked.
Lime: Also widely available, though fall is its main season. Tahiti and Bearss are the most common supermarket varieties; they’re big and seedless. The Key lime, also known as Mexican or West Indian lime, has seeds and is smaller, thin-skinned and juicy with a more intense and slightly sweeter flavor.
Sour or Bitter Orange: Season January to March. Seville, the most common variety, has a pebbled rind; it’s bitter and tart, it is often too sour for most people to eat fresh but is best used for sauces and marmalade.
Citron: Season November to January, has little to no juice it is most used for its peel, it looks like a big, bumpy lemon. Buddha’s Hand is a citron variety that, true to its name, looks like a hand. It is often candied and used in desserts like fruit cake
Kumquat: Season, February to April, they are tiny egg-shaped fruit eaten peel and all. The peel of this fruit is sweet and the flesh is sour./ bitter. They can be eaten fresh and whole or often cooked and candied. They make beautiful garnishes.
Do you have a favorite way for ideal citrus storage?
Do you have questions about how to best store a particular ingredient? Let me know, I am happy to help.