By Anastassia Skarlinski
While these days citrus fruits are available all year round, in the northern hemisphere they are considered a winter fruit. Giving a bite of sunshine, citrus fruits are a great way to brighten up any meal. There are many different types and varieties of citrus fruits that can more or less be divided into teams: Team Sour, Team Sweet, and Team Bitter.
The members of this team that you are likely to find in most grocery stores are primarily lemons and limes. Both are quite tart and full of great flavor. Have you ever found your meal lacks something that you can’t quite put your finger on? Quite likely this could all be fixed with a spritz of lemon or lime juice. The juice of these fruits is also useful in slowing the browning of cut apples, pears, and avocados due to their high citric acid content. They also can be used in salad dressing like this one.
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp honey
- 2 tsp fresh dill, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together all ingredients. Serve on salad greens, cooked winter greens, or even roasted broccoli.
The members of this team are sweet tart favorites of lunch boxes and childhood sports practices. There are many of these available in stores, all with different advantages. Tangerines, mandarins, and clementines are typically sweetest and easiest to peel. Navel oranges are larger and slightly tarter. Valencia oranges are best used for juicing. Blood oranges and Caracara oranges are sweet and add bright beautiful color to salads. (Be careful, blood oranges can stain clothing!). All of the members of this team are excellent eating out of hand, or can be used in this quick salad.
Avocado Citrus Salad
- 2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 oranges of your choice, peeled and diced
- 2 avocados, peeled and diced
- ½ cup diced cucumber
- ½ red onion, sliced thin
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Whisk together juices, oil, and mustard. Toss with fruit, cucumbers, and onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a green salad or as is.
Grapefuit, Ugli Fruit, and Pomelos are the only members of this team you are likely to see in stores. Ugli Fruit is a Jamaican hybrid of mandarins and grapefruit. Pomelos are much larger than grapefruit but yield the same amount of fruit. Most of the size is due to pith. Grapefruits are the most bitter member of these three. While all add a refreshing sweet, bitter, and tart flavor, they do interact with some medications. Make sure to check with your doctor before enjoying these fruits. Members of team bitter make delicious additions to salads, smoothies, or simply eaten on their own. Try them in this easy breakfast or snack.
- 1 grapefruit, peeled and diced
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 4 Tbsp brown sugar, divided
- 1 Tbsp minced mint leaves
- ¼ cup pistachio, chopped
Toss grapefruit with 1 Tbsp brown sugar, set aside. Mix yogurt, sugar, and mint. In two glasses layer yogurt and grapefruit. Top with chopped pistachios.
There are a number of other citrus fruits that are not often seen in the US. Kumquats are small grape-sized orange-like fruits – you can pop them in your mouth and eat them skin and all! Kumquats are also commonly candied or preserved for recipes. Yuzu is similar to a lemon or lime with a more floral flavor. They are popular in Japanese cuisine, and used in sauces, marinades, and desserts. Bergamot and Seville oranges are both grown for their peels. Bergamot peel is most commonly found in Earl Grey Tea, and Seville oranges are used for marmalades. The fruit of both of these is very bitter and rarely used.
What all of these fruits have in common is that they are all excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients. Citrus fruits are probably best known as an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential in helping your body make collagen, essential for smooth elastic skin and wound healing. It also helps your body to better absorb iron from the foods that you eat. Citrus fruits are also rich in potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and B vitamins. Beyond vitamins and minerals, whole citrus fruits are an excellent source of fiber. Citrus fruits are special as they have a higher ratio of soluble to insoluble fiber than most other fruits and vegetables. Both soluble and insoluble fiber have benefits for digestion and may help control blood cholesterol and glucose levels.
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