The Citrus You Should Be Eating this Winter
Our favorite varieties are only around for a short while. Here’s how to make the most of them while you can.
Darker days make way for brighter, tangier, juicier fruits. Enter, citrus. California citrus is coveted around this time of year when specialty varieties are readily available for a short (but super sweet) period. There are too many varieties to count on two hands, but we’ve tasted some early-season citrus superstars that really stand out. Here’s what we’re reaching for this winter, and why you should stock up while you can.
Mandarins are seedless, easy to peel (trust us — it literally slides right off), and tiny enough to fit in your pocket for later. If that’s your thing. (It’s ours.) Local Satsumas and kishus are at the top of our list for their tangy sweetness. We slip them into salads whenever we can, and turn to them for snacking 24/7.
Similar to the Valencia orange, Navels are best used for juicing. That sticky sweetness is great in dressings and marinades, where the acid helps break down tough fibers in hearty vegetables and cuts of meat.
The cara cara might be California’s most prized possession come winter. With a rosy, salmon-colored flesh and sweeter flavor than more traditional oranges, this variety lives up to the hype. Oh, did we mention they’re seedless? If you could only eat one piece of California citrus this winter, our vote would go to the cara cara.
Sometimes the only way you know you’re holding a blood orange is to cut it open and have a peek at it’s flesh. Dark red with a hint of purple, the juice of these oranges is incredibly fragrant (and loves to stain things. Be warned.) Blood oranges are full of antioxidants — add a squeeze into a cocktail for a nice color, sweet flavor, and the justification that the cocktail you’re drinking is doing something good for your body.
Pomelos are most closely related to grapefruit. Except much bigger, and pleasantly milder, i.e. sweeter and less bitter. Tahitian pomelos have a greenish-yellow rind and taste a bit lime-like; one of our farmers (Hi, Cliff!) even likens the flavor to a margarita. Chandler pomelos have an even sweeter juice, with a neon yellow rind. Both are great for topping salads and eating right off the rind.
Forget the grapefruits of breakfast buffets past. The Ruby Red is tart and acidic, with just enough sugar to balance it out. Serve these as halves to show off their beautiful orangish pink ombre. We like to sprinkle a little sugar over each half and broil for a few minutes for a deep caramel flavor and dessert (or breakfast!) that looks like we have our life together.