Peel away the flavor of sunlight

Published on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 23:22 - Written by CHRISTINE GARDNER

Bright, colorful, juicy and light — not exactly words that are associated with winter. But this is the time of year to indulge in all types of citrus.

A stroll through the produce aisle offers an array of citrus just waiting to be juiced or eaten. There are multiple varieties of lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit. All are in season and at their peak of flavor.

When it comes to choosing citrus, the best flavor comes from citrus that has a slight give when pressed and a bit of softness.

Also, when choosing fruit for juicing look for citrus that has a smoother skin – a bumpy-skinned orange or lime will yield less juice than one with smooth skin. offers a citrus flavor wheel that rates each fruit from sweet to tart and describes their characteristics in flavor, skin type and ways to use them in the kitchen.

Many of the types of citrus listed below are available at FRESH, area Brookshire’s, Super 1 Foods and Wal-Mart.

Oro Blanco Grapefruit: Less acidic than a typical grapefruit, the Oro Blanco is covered in a thick, rind that ranges in color from green to yellow and contains a white flesh. They are juicy with a sweet to tart flesh and can be enjoyed like a grapefruit.

Melogold Grapefruit:  This cross between a pomelo and a white grapefruit is extremely large with yellowish skin and pale yellow flesh. The rind is thick but the interior is extremely juicy. It is the sweetest grapefruit when compared to ruby red and oro blanco.

Blood Oranges: The skin of a blood orange darkens over time as the red juice from the interior begins to seep into the rind. They have a very sweet flavor and their juice is a popular ingredient in recipes. They will become sweeter and juicier as they ripen and their skin darkens in color.

Meyer Lemons: Once grown only as ornamental garden lemons, Meyer lemons are now enjoyed for its mild, sweet, juicy flesh. Although still too tart to eat out-of-hand, the juice is a delicious additive in many recipes.

 Kumquats: A bit larger than an olive, the Kumquat looks like a tiny, oval orange. It is eaten whole – skin and all. The orange flesh is juicy, acidic and tart while the skin is fragrant and sweet.

Key Limes: Although they are small the juice from a key lime is more intense than the juice from a regular lime. Most often used in cooking, the key lime is also more fragrant and less acidic.

Tangerines/Mandarins: A member of the mandarin family, there are many varieties of tangerines that include honey, minneola, neapolitan, satsuma and Ojai pixie. They vary in flavor from sweet to tart and typically have a sweet, clean fragrance. A bit larger than mandarins, the tangerines are easy to peel and often seedless.

Clementines: The smallest member of the mandarin family, clementines are often imported from Spain, North Africa or Morroco. Also called Cuties, this is a brand of clementines that are grown in California. They are small and easy to peel with less juice than most oranges and are best enjoyed when peeled and eaten in sections.

Oranges: Most popular varieties include navel and Valencia. The Valencia oranges typically yield more juice. Navel oranges have a thicker skin and are great for eating. 



 Meyer Lemon & Crab Pasta



1 pound spaghetti

1 pound crabmeat

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice, plus wedges for garnish

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup finely minced flat-leaf parsley



Bring the pasta water to a boil, salt it and the pasta. While the pasta cooks, add the crabmeat to the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat, and just warm briefly. Add the wine and bring to a quick boil. Immediately turn the heat to low. Stir in the lemon juice and seasonings. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Pour the pasta in the pan with the crab. Toss in 1/4 cup of the cheese and the parsley. If the pasta needs more liquid, add a little of the reserved pasta water. Serve in bowls, sprinkling the remaining cheese on top and garnishing with lemon wedges.



Blood Orange-Honey Simple Syrup



1/2 cup honey

1 cup water

2 blood oranges, juice and zest



In a saucepan combine the honey, water and blood orange zest. Bring to a simmer and stir until the honey dissolves. Remove from heat and let steep for five minutes. Stir in the blood orange juice and then strain the mixture into a clean, sealable container and chill. Mix a 1/4 cup of the syrup in drinks. Can be mixed with sparking wine, white wine, club soda or vodka. Serve with segments of blood oranges as garnish.



Lemon Bruschetta



1 lemon, juice and zest

4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

1/2 baguette, sliced

Olive oil, for basting

1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped

2 Dorot frozen basil cubes (available in freezer aisle, with frozen vegetables)



Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the goat cheese in a bowl and stir in the lemon juice. Add half of the zest and reserve remaining zest for garnishing the bruschetta. In another bowl place the basil cubes and let thaw. Add the chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to combine. Brush the bread with olive oil and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for five to ten minutes until golden. Spread the goat cheese over the bread slices and top with some of the chopped tomato mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest.



Tangerine Shrimp Stir-Fry



5 mandarin oranges

1 tablespoon brown sugar

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon sriracha

1 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh garlic, peeled and chopped

1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined

1 red bell pepper, chopped

5 white mushrooms, sliced

1 cup green peas, thawed

1/2 cup water

1 cup green onions, chopped

Hot cooked rice



Peel the mandarins and divide into sections. Set aside the sections from one of the mandarins for the stir-fry. Place the remaining sections from the other four mandarins in a blender and add the brown sugar. Puree until smooth. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sriracha and cornstarch and stir to combine. Set aside. Place large skillet or wok over medium high heat for 1 minute; add oil. Heat oil 30 seconds; add ginger, garlic and shrimp. Stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp turns pink and the tails begin to curl. Remove shrimp from pan; set aside. Add the vegetables and cook over medium high heat for 1 minute. Add water and reduce heat to medium. Cook until vegetables are tender. Return heat to medium high. Add shrimp back to the pan, along with the mandarin sauce.. Cook an additional 2 minutes until sauce is thickened and shrimp are completely cooked. Season with salt and ground pepper. Stir in green onions and reserved mandarin sections. Serve with hot cooked rice.



Orange Pork Chops and Pilaf



6 pork chops

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/2 Sunkist orange, zested

1/2 teaspoon celery salt (for less sodium, omit)

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup uncooked rice

1/2 cup fine egg noodles, broken in small pieces

2 Sunkist oranges, peeled and sectioned



In large skillet thoroughly brown chops in oil, remove and set aside. In the same skillet pour off fat, add broth, onion, orange zest, celery salt and pepper. Stir in egg noodles and rice, place chops on top of rice mixture. Cover and cook over low heat 25 minutes or until chops are done and liquid is absorbed. Remove chops and keep warm. Add orange sections to rice mixture, heat. To Serve: Arrange chops and rice mixture on serving platter and enjoy. Recipe from