From late fall until early spring, we expect to see Winter Fruits featured prominently in our Michigan markets. These fruits come from growers whose weather is more temperate, like in Florida, Texas, California or Mexico, or whose seasons (in other hemispheres) are somewhat opposite ours, such as in South America. A great many of these Winter Fruits are citrus fruits.
Citrus fruits were brought to America by the Spaniards (Columbus took citrus fruit seeds with him on his second trip) and the Portuguese in their exploration trips to the New World, around year 1500. It’s not surprising then, that citrus fruits rank first in the international fruit trade in terms of value.
In this country, citrus fruits are consumed not only for their great taste but also because of the beneficial effects they have on health. There are various health benefits associated with the consumption of citrus fruits, as they are low in fat and free of cholesterol and sodium. Citrus fruits are also rich in vitamin C content, acidic content, minerals, carbohydrates and fibers. They contain essential nutrients like calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium, niacin and vitamin B6, which are required for proper body function.
Many citrus fruits, such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, and clementines, are eaten fresh. They are typically peeled and can be easily split into segments. Grapefruit is more commonly halved and eaten out of the skin with a spoon. Orange and grapefruit juices are also very popular breakfast beverages. More acidic citrus, such as lemons and limes, are generally not eaten on their own, although Meyer Lemons can be eaten out of hand as they are very sweet and only slightly sour. Lemons and limes are also used as garnishes or in cooked dishes to which their juices are added.
Citrus segments in salads, their oils in flavorings, and their rinds candied…just about every other imaginable part of citrus makes a culinary debut in one cuisine or another around the globe.
Yet some people still think of an orange as something they eat for a snack or a flavor in a soda and think of a grapefruit as no more than a dieter’s breakfast. So, how you can you de-mystify citrus for the person who doesn’t eat much citrus or even like citrus? Here are some fun ideas.
- Make a Granite (sorbet). How? Mix together citrus juice and water until you have the strength of flavor that’s pleasing to your tastes. Then, whisk in granulated sugar until the solution is 31 degrees brix (a term for density of a sugar solution). How do you know when you’ve added enough sugar to make it 31 degrees? Simple, use an extra-large (in the shell) raw egg! With no sugar in the citrus water, it will sink to the bottom. As you add sugar, it begins to bob up to the surface. When the exposed end of the egg is the size of a US quarter, it’s about 31 degrees brix! The next step is to pour it in a shallow pan and put it in your freezer. Then, every 20 to 30 minutes, rake the mixture with a dinner fork. Within a couple of hours, you will have a white, snow-like sorbet called Granite! It’s simple AND delicious! Give it a try!
Make a delicious salad with some citrus in it. Try these!
Mint your citrus like Ernest Hemmingway did by adding a splash of pink grapefruit juice to a Cuban Mojito! Cheers!
Citrus fruits are wonderful anytime of the year, so stop by Nino’s, pick up some of YOUR favorites and enjoy one of our delicious recipes this week.
For more on citrus, check out my blog: Grapefruit, Breakfast & Beyond