Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are available and eaten throughout the year. But winter months are their peak season. These are versatile fruits that can enrich any food dish. Their juice and zest can be part of any type of cooking. Know all the details on their role in cooking.

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Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits include lemons, sweet limes, oranges and grapefruits. They come from a genus of flowering trees and shrubs. Warm climate is conducive for their growth. In the USA, Florida grows most oranges and grapefruits while California has lemons. And the limes come from Mexico.

Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits (Source: Pharmeasy)

These fruits are available round the year. But during winter months, their production is highest. Also, during the cold months, there is a scarcity of other fruits. And the importance of citrus rises. These fruits have a sweet to sour taste. This is due to their sugar and citric acid content. And they can form an integral part of salty, spicy, savory or sweet food dishes.

Food dishes and citrus

Citrus blends well with almost all food dishes. They add richness to heavier foods that have a deeper and stronger flavor. One can add them to meats, salads, vegetables, pasta, seafoods, baked foods, desserts, and also in dips, marinades, beverages and vinaigrettes. Even a small amount of the juice or zest of the fruit adds life to the food dish and enlivens it.

Citrus fruits
Zest extraction (Source: Wikipedia)

Zest is the brighter outer coat of the fruit. It gives a citrusy flavor to the food dish. It is not really acidic or sour but has a pleasant bitterness to it. On the other hand, the juice is variedly acidic. It balances the taste of other food dishes. It can sparkle the dish and makes it brighter.

Citrus and cooking

Good-quality fruits of this family are those that have a smooth and brighter outer layer. Moreover, they are firm in consistency. One should invariably wash the fruit before use. This removes any impurities clinging to the peel. It can also remove the preservatives that are sprayed on them prior to shipping or sale to increase their shelf life.

For procuring the zest, one should use a microplane or extra-fine grater or a vegetable peeler and use the whole fruit. But be certain that you only peel the colored outer part of the peel and not the inner white portion of the skin. The latter is extremely bitter and can ruin your dish.

For the juice, cut the fruit into two equal pieces and with the aid of a reamer, juicer or juice-extracting tool procure the juice. Avoid the seeds of the fruit as they are bitter. If you tenderize the fruit by rolling it between the palms before squeezing out the juice, the juice extraction process would be easier.

Citrus fruits
Citrus juice (Source: Happy foods tube)

Also, read Yuzu fruit: the Far Eastern citrus fruit with hoards of health benefits

Storage of the fruit should be in the crisper or vegetable drawer of the fridge. Lemons and limes can last for at least 3 weeks while oranges and grapefruits would remain good for around 2 weeks in the fridge.