Even though the days keep getting darker, the produce shelves at LifeSource are growing brighter thanks to that shiny orb. No, it’s not the sun—it’s fresh, organic citrus fruit! As winter inches along we’ll have an abundance of exciting varieties to keep you feeling sunny.
When picking out citrus you want to look for fruit that is heavy for its size with a strong scent. The coloring doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, non-organic oranges are sometimes injected with ‘Citrus Red Number 2’, which gives them their uniform coloring. Organic citrus with varied coloring can be just as ripe as their orange counterparts, but were probably picked later in season. The change in color is caused by a process similar to the one that makes leaves change color in the fall. In general, citrus will last for about 2 weeks when stored at room temperature and should be kept in a bowl or basket where air can circulate freely.
Although there’s only one variety of sunshine, there’s a plethora of juicy, delicious organic citrus to choose from. An easy to identify orange is the Navel, which has a bellybutton formation at the end of the fruit, hence the name. When you peel back the rind you’ll find that this bellybutton is actually a second orange hiding inside. Navel oranges are a mutation that occurred on a single branch of a sour orange tree in Brazil. Imagine the grower’s surprise when not only were there two oranges inside, but the fruit was sweet and seedless!
The Cara Cara is a variety of the navel orange with a slightly pink interior and a sweetness comparable to tangerines. This sweet, juicy orange makes a wonderful snack since it’s easy to peel and seedless! Organic Cara Cara oranges are also great for salads and juicing. The juice can be frozen and stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Create a tangy salsa by combining Cara Cara segments, Roma tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, and cilantro.
Moro, or blood oranges, also resemble a Navel orange, except the Moro’s skin has a reddish tint and the flesh is bright crimson. Moro oranges are more tart than navels with a floral aroma and berry flavor. Blood oranges have the highest vitamin C content of all the orange varieties.
Grapefruits come in white, pink, and red varieties with the red hue coming from lycopene, the same antioxidant found in tomatoes. Grapefruit stores well and will keep for about a week at room temperature and up to 2 months in an airtight container in the produce drawer. For an easy, delicious breakfast try caramelized grapefruit. Simply halve the grapefruit and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar; place on a rack 4 inches from heat and broil for 5 minutes; top with yogurt.
Satsuma Mandarins are one of the first citrus to ripen. This tangerine variety is wrapped in a fun-size package by Mother Nature and makes a perfect snack, especially for kids. Their skin practically falls off, they have very few seeds, and their segments are easy to separate. But, just like some other fun-sized treats, you may find it hard to eat only one!
The Clementine is a variety of mandarin orange often called Cuties. They are small, easy to peel and oh so sweet. Barely any pith clings to the fruit and the membrane that surrounds each section is so delicate it’s almost unnoticeable. All mandarin and tangerine varieties are more perishable than other oranges. They will only last a day or two at room temperature so you’ll want to keep them in the produce drawer of the refrigerator where they’ll last for up to two weeks.
Minneola Tangelos are a cross between a grapefruit and tangerine, making them large and tart like a grapefruit, but sweet and juicy like a tangerine. They have a stem-end neck that makes them appear bellshaped and their skin is thin and easy to peel.