A Little Bit of Sunshine

Mini Orange Pound CakeIf there is a bright spot in a cold Minnesota winter, it has to be citrus fruit. It can be no coincidence that most citrus fruit resembles the sun! Oranges, lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerines, clementines and kumquats are in season through the winter months and can provide a bright, happy note in wintry dishes including grains, fish, salads and baked goods. Of course, these sunny beauties are also great as a snack or make a perfectly simple and satisfying dessert on their own. Here are some great tips and recipes for enjoying your favorite citrus fruits all winter long:

  • Cut orange segments for eating by slicing "between the poles," not through them; then slice into easy-to-eat wedges.
  • Add lemon and lime zest to rice and grain dishes, salad dressings, and salads.
  • For most pronounced citrus flavor in baked goods, use zest in the batter. Citrus juice becomes very muted in baked products. For even more fruity oomph, brush muffins, quick breads and cakes with a citrusy simple syrup (made from equal parts citrus juice and dissolved sugar) and/or make a simple citrus glaze with 1 cup powdered sugar and 3-4 teaspoons citrus juice.
  • To supreme citrus fruit, slice off the ends down to the flesh and place one of these flat ends on a stable cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut down toward the board (between the cut ends), moving the knife with the contour of the fruit to remove all of the peel and white pith, down to the brightly colored flesh. Hold the peeled fruit in one hand (membranes running across your open palm) over a large bowl; using a sharp knife in your other/cutting hand, carefully cut down into the fruit alongside the membranes to release the segments into the bowl below. Squeeze the remnants of the fruit (the membranes) over the bowl to extract every last drop of juice.
  • To get the most juice from your citrus, squeeze them at room temperature or microwave them for up to 10 seconds first.
  • When you want to use the juice and zest of a citrus fruit, zest first then squeeze the fruit to extract the juice.
  • You can save a zested citrus fruit, but wrap it well in plastic and use as soon as possible. The juice in a zested lemon will oxidize and turn bitter quickly.
  • Color isn't a good indicator of ripeness for citrus fruit. To select the best fruit, pick pieces that are heavy for their size. To do this, pick similarly sized fruits and choose the heavier of those you test. Fragrant fruits are also generally good choices. Avoid fruits with blemishes or soft spots.

Good to Know:

  • Look for Sky Valley navel oranges in your local Kowalski's Market! This heirloom variety was first planted in the 1930s, when it was the primary type of navel orange planted in California – giving the state its reputation as a grower of the best-tasting citrus in the world. The Sky Valley navel oranges were planted using sour orange root stock, commonly used in first half of the 20th century but seldom used anymore. For the large scale commercial grower this root stock and variety are no longer desirable as they do not produce as quickly or as heavily as the newer stocks. It is, however, the root stock and the age of the trees that gives Sky Valley its unique flavor profile. Try some while they are in stock – they are our favorites for a reason!
  • Our produce distributor (local, family-owned J&J) squeezes fresh citrus juice for us every day – and not just orange! You'll find fresh squeezed blends like Saint Paul Sunrise (with blood orange) and other fresh combinations, including a vitamin-C loaded blend called "C-Pack" in the Produce Department of your local market.
  • Check your local Kowalski's market for extra-sweet clementines from the place where clementines originated – Spain! These winter delights are the real deal. Come in and pick up a box today!

Featured Recipes

Lemon Sweet Rolls
Grilled Halibut with Orange Cilantro Marinade Over Citrus Quinoa
Mini Orange Pound Cakes (pictured above)
Orange Infused Flan
Orange Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Chips
Orange Yogurt Dressing
Lemon Basmati Rice with Pine Nuts
Lemon Caper Tilapia
Winter Citrus Salad

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