Get to know some of the lesser-known citrus fruits.
Citrus is in season through March which means it tastes the best and is easiest to find right now. Citrus fruits are a great source of fiber, vitamins and plant compounds. They are low in calories, have a low glycemic index and make great snacks.
Oranges include navels (they have the longest season- November to May), blood oranges and Valencias (in season from April to summer). The Cara Cara Orange looks like a navel orange from the outside but inside it is seedless and pink. It is sweet, juicy, low in acidity and a great addition to a salad. The Bergamot is a variety of orange cooks well.
Mandarin varieties include satsumas that have a short season (October to December), clementines (season runs from November to January), tangelos (in season through March) and tangerines.
The Miyagawa is a Japanese satsuma. It is seedless and easy to peel. It is a popular snack and tastes like a combination of a clementine and a grapefruit.
Pomelo or Pummelo is one of the original ancestral citrus species from which all citrus fruits are derived. It is larger than a grapefruit and has a thick rind and pink flesh. It looks like a large round soft apple. It has a milder taste than a grapefruit. It is in season in winter.
Grapefruit is a cross between an orange and a pomelo. It has a season from September to June. When grapefruits first came to the U.S. in 1823, they were not received well.
Lemons are available year-round. The Meyer lemon is a lemon/orange hybrid that is a favorite among chefs. It is very juicy, and sweeter than a regular lemon. It is great in lemonade or to make lemon curd with. The Cedro Lemon has much more pith and less flesh. Use the grated pith in baking, over pasta, or in confit. These lemons are very large, sometimes the size of a small football.
Limes are available year-round, but fall is the main season. The Finger Lime is an Australian citrus that has become a food fad in the U.S. It is shaped like a tiny cucumber and inside it has tiny juice-filled pearls. Use the pearls as garnish on whatever you’d squeeze lime on, or in a salad dressing.
Sour Orange is true to its name and in season from January to March. It is often used for marmalade.
Citron aka Buddha’s Hand is used for its peel. It looks just like a hand and if you cut it open you’ll see it’s all peel. Its season is November to January and is not often found in supermarkets.
Kumquat is a small egg-shaped citrus fruit that is eaten peel and all. It is about the size of an olive and has a sweet rind and a sour center. Its season is February to April.
How to buy citrus–
The peel should be firm with no shriveling, tears or decay. Fruit that seems heavy is the juiciest.
Leave it out on the countertop if you’re going to eat it soon. If not, it can be refrigerated for two weeks. It needs airflow so put in mesh bags in the produce drawer.