If you are throwing a summer party, it is not complete without a little bit of citrus! Whether it is a cold glass of lemonade, or a citrus themed dessert, everyone loves that sweet and sour combination.
While most of the nation shivers under winter’s chill, Florida harvests its citrus sunshine. This winter, the crop is about two weeks later than usual.
Eight of the top eleven Florida citrus varieties are now in season. Look for navel oranges, ruby red grapefruit, tangerines, and tangelos to be plentiful and relatively inexpensive in supermarkets and produce stands.
Recent cold snaps have given the fruit extra sweetness, too. When shopping for citrus, bigger isn’t necessarily better,
Smaller fruit usually has more intense flavor than large fruit. And in general, you should ignore the color of the peel.
Bright orange fruit does not taste better than fruit that has a yellow or speckled skin. You can almost choose fruit with your eyes closed, selecting those that feel dense and heavy in your hands.
Heavy fruit is juicier and more flavorful. Here’s a brief guide to citrus and how to use it in recipes.
First, let’s take a look at grapefruit. The crop of pink, red, and white grapefruit is bountiful, and the fruit is sweet and luscious.
Color is not an indicator of sweetness, and white grapefruit are no sweeter or more sour than pink or red varieties. Most types can be used interchangeably for juicing, or to cut in half and eat for snacks with a grapefruit spoon.
Star ruby grapefruit, a type of dark, red-fleshed fruit, is too crunchy to eat easily with a grapefruit spoon. Florida grapefruit are easy to peel and excellent for sectioning.
Use three colors of grapefruit to make a rainbow fruit salad, or add to ambrosia or spinach, avocado and red onion salad. Next, let’s look at the Hamlin orange.
These medium-size oranges have a smooth, thin peel and few seeds. They range in color from deep yellow to true orange.
They are tart and best for juicing but also can be peeled for sectioning. Use in fruit salads or add fruit and juice to baked or grilled chicken.
The pineapple orange is another delicious fruit. These are medium-size, seedy oranges used mostly for juicing.
The juice is brightly colored and tart-sweet. It tastes delightful in yogurt-fruit breakfast smoothies, alcohol-free mocktails, and in mixed drinks.
The Valencia is of course the most famous of this category. These are the queen of Florida’s juice variety, but they’re seldom available until March.
The medium-size fruit has a sturdy peel and juice that is tart-sweet and deeply colored. Section or slice the fruit and use it in salads, pancakes or duck a l’orange.
Navel is another variety that is fabulous. These extra-large ones are perfect for packing in brown-bag lunches or picnic baskets.
The sturdy, pebbled rind makes the fruit easy to peel and section. The sweet flavor is an excellent addition to salads and salad dressings.
Add peeled sections to yogurt or whole-grain breakfast cereal or chop sections and mix with jalapeno peppers and cilantro to make a sweet-hot salsa for fish or grilled chicken.
Ambersweet is another nice orange. This delightful new variety was developed in Orlando in 1989, so trees are still too young to bear much fruit.
But if you see Ambersweet oranges in the market, buy them. They are almost as large as naval oranges, with an easy-to-peel skin and a tart-sweet, slightly spicy flavor.
They have few seeds and plenty of juice. Use sections in fruit salads or arrange in a pinwheel atop a glamorous fresh tart.
Add the sections to salad greens and toss with a honey, mustard and orange juice dressing. Temple is the next variety.
These medium-size fruits have a deep orange color and a pebbly surface that is easy to peel. Inside, they’re fairly seedy but delightfully sweet.
Munch them out of hand or juice them to avoid the seeds. Use the juice in cocktails or breakfast drinks.
Tangelo is the last one we will mention, and it very unique. This specialty fruit is a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit.
The name comes from pomelo, the European term for grapefruit. The fruit is fairly large, with an easy-peeling rind and few seeds. BOLA TANGKAS