A Guide To Citrus -- How To Use It In Recipes
Copyright 1994 Orlando Sentinel
Distributed by Knight-Ridder/Tribune Information Services
By Charlotte Balcomb Lane
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 11
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 better, said C. Jack Hearn, a citrus specialist with
the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Orlando. Smaller fruit usually has more intense
flavor than large fruit, he explained. And in general, you should ignore the color of the
peel. Bright orange fruit doesn't taste better than fruit that hasa 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 guide to citrus and how to use it in recipes:
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
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
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.
These are the queen of Florida's juice oranges, 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.
These extra-large oranges 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.
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 orange tart. Add
the sections to salad greens and toss with a honey, mustard and orange juice dressing.
These medium-size oranges 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
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. The deep orange flesh is best when peeled and eaten
out of hand for lunch or snacks, but it also can be used for juicing. Section and toss with
dates, grapes and honey to make a winter-fruit salad or sprinkle sections on top of
pan-fried ham slices.
This variety is what most people envision when they think of a
tangerine. The fruit is small, with a dark orange, loose rind that practically falls off the
fruit. They have a bright, sweet, juicy flavor and plenty of seeds. Because they're easy to
peel, these are great packed in lunch bags. Remove the seeds and toss sections in salads,
layer in cakes or sprinkle over vanilla ice cream.
This exceptionally sweet, juicy and seedless fruit once grew under
the name ``Minneola,'' but was changed to encourage consumers to try it. The season is
only six to eight weeks long, so buy honeybells when you see them. They have a thin
skin and usually bulge slightly at the stem end. Use sections in salads or dip them in real
honey for dessert. They're great eaten in the afternoon for a pick-me-up. (Don't confuse
honeybells with another tangerine variety simply called a honey, or a
Honey tangerines have an unattractive, thin, light-orange peel but a great,
sweet flavor. They are usually full of seeds but make excellent juice.)
These large, thin-skinned lemons are seldom sold commercially, but the
trees are popular for landscaping. So, if a neighbor offers some off a backyard tree, take
them. They have abundant juice. They are sweeter than supermarket lemons, so they
make excellent lemonade. Use the juice also in marinades, sauces and cakes and