Winter Citrus

full shot all citrus

Did you know that December and January are the best times of the year to eat citrus? Neither did I.

But then, after scoffing at yet another fashion spread featuring Kate Moss and what I hope was an ironically titled “steal of the month” section featuring a $500 dress, I happily stumbled upon a delightful essay by chef and author Tamar Adler in the December issue of Vogue. (Yes, embarrassingly enough, I read Vogue. But I swear, their food essays are unparalleled and accompanied by gorgeous photos!)

The essay, in which Adler proposes a flurry of tempting, yet doubtlessly expensive, citrus-inspired dishes, is my favorite food essay since Oliver Strand’s ode to field salads in May. Strand’s essay inspired a string of highly unusual, sometimes nearly inedible salads–but I did discover some tasty new greens in the process.

My experiments with citrus have carried less risk and more sweet reward.

The Lineup. L-R: Pomelo, lime, ugli fruit, grapefruit, cara-cara, blood orange, lemon.

First, the usual suspects: lemons, limes, and oranges.

lemon with knife
A lemon, sitting anxiously by a knife.

Lemons are replete in the grocery stores at the moment, bright and sharp and robust. This is an excuse for me to make my favorite chickpea and Swiss Chard pasta, of which fresh lemon juice is the most important ingredient. Limes are a crucial for homemade pico de gallo (I’ll post my recipe if you’d like), and oranges? Well, oranges are generally tasty, and their peels can be used to flavor mulled wine.

Pomelo vs. lime
Pomelo vs. lime

If you’re like me, you’ll be drawn to the large & proud fruits in the grocery store; thus, the photo above, where a stupendous pomelo intimidates a lime. When you cut open a pomelo, be sure to take a huge whiff of the inside: sweet, tangy, and wonderful, like sea mist drawn in on a tropical breeze. I would happily use a frothy pomelo body wash or light a pomelo-scented candle in the kitchen. Unfortunately, regarding taste, it is my least favorite of the bunch. Residing somewhere between a grapefruit and an orange, it is also a challenging fruit to eat, full of fibrous caverns.

cara cara
A cara cara, sunning itself.

Cara caras and blood oranges: the first, mild and sweet, a suggestion of rosiness, a combination of kiwi and starfruit. Light, fragrant, and satisfying, with almost no acidity or tartness. Some might call this bland; if this is your reaction, proceed to the…

blood oranges
blood oranges, bevy of

Aptly-named blood orange, an ombre fruit starting with amber and proceeding to liquid-infused crimson. Its flavor, as you would suspect, is darker and richer than regular oranges, slightly tangy but also very sweet. Personally, I think it tastes like a fruit cocktail.

The unassuming ugli fruit.
The unassuming ugli fruit.

I have a penchant for odd or unusual names; thus, my selection of the ugli fruit. Mine, perhaps, is not so ugly as most others–but the taste is assuredly just as wonderful. My favorite of the bunch, a cross between a lemon and a cara-cara, with a not-so-subtle sourness and a jaunting flavor. There is also a very light, but intriguing, fermenting undertone. This I could eat every day. And I will, for as long as I can find it in the grocery store.

Photo creditsMany thanks to G., his wonderful camera, and the cooperative natural light for these fruit portraits. 🙂


15 thoughts on “Winter Citrus

  1. Very well-photograph, but what draws me much more is how well you described the tastes of each citrus. I especially like tangerines, or those small oranges. We also have dalandan in the Philippines which I miss so much.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this, and the photographs. (photographs are what made me wanna read it more). And I love citrus fruits and scents. But since last month, once I discovered I was suffering from gastritis, I have had to avoid all citrus fruits. Chickpeas are not good for me either. But using the pomelo as a body wash, sounds interesting. Although I doubt we get those in this part of the world.
    Anyway love the post. A pity i can’t taste any of them, at least for sometime.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the photographs! My friend will be very happy to hear that—he only just got a professional-level camera and has been kindly willing to take photos for me to feature here on the blog.

      I’m very sorry to hear about your gastritis; I imagine that the high acidity of citrus would certainly cause further inflammation. There are some fruits with lower citric acid levels, though, including bananas, mangoes (I love mangoes!) and avocados. Maybe you can ask your doctor about eating those?

      1. Thanks for the great advise. Yes, Bananas are good, but only ones I should have are Cavendish, which isn’t available here, thus been imported, and thus sometimes gets spoilt pretty soon. Sweet Mangoes are good, but the ones here are the sour acidic ones. The only fruit available here I can have is Avocado thankfully. Even Papayas here are acidic. Again thanks for advise.

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