Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Citrus Season

by Kelly

While I'm the first one to admit that I am not a huge fan of the weather this time of year, there is actually something I do love about winter....citrus fruit!

Citrus fruits are typically available year-round, but they are at their peak this time of year.  Native to Australia and Southeast Asia, citrus trees are cultivated in warm, sunny climates with fertile soil and adequate rainfall.  However, they require some time at a cooler temperature for the fruit to develop its color.  Hence their harvest in the cooler months of the year.

Right now there is an abundance of brightly colored citrus fruit in my local grocery store, so I thought it might be fun to geek out and learn more about some of my favorites.

Blood Orange

The blood orange is primarily cultivated in the Southern Mediterranean and gets its name from the deep maroon/crimson color of its flesh... I mean just look at that color!  Most likely a natural mutation of the orange, this distinctive color is due to the presence of anthocyanin, an antioxidant that is rather uncommon in citrus fruits.  The sweet flesh of blood oranges is ideal in salads or desserts, and the juice is delicious on its own or in a variety of cocktails (hello!).

Cara Cara Orange

The Cara Cara orange is a hybrid between two different types of navel oranges and has a peach colored flesh (courtesy of the phytochemical, lycopene) and sweet, complex, almost berry-like flavor.  Prized for the delightful fragrance of their blossoms, Cara Cara trees can grown in the moderately-warm regions of the US (zones 8-11). Whether eaten as a snack or squeezed for their juice, Cara Cara oranges are delicious and refreshing.

Mandarin Orange

Mandarin oranges, and the related clementines, are known for their sweet flavor and loose, easy-to-peel skin.  They originated from China and are now widely cultivated in California under the Wonderful® Halos™ brand.  Between their portability and delectable little segments, we eat these by the dozens at our house.

Navel Orange

Navel oranges are the original 'sweet' orange which developed from a hybrid between the pomelo and the mandarin orange.  Also easy to peel, navel oranges are grown to be eaten fresh or squeezed for their juice.  

Ruby Red Grapefruit

Originating in Asia, the grapefruit is a hybrid between the pomelo and the sweet orange.  The name is derived from the grape-like clusters of fruit on the tree.  The Ruby Red variety was developed after an accidental discovery of a the red grapefruit growing on a pink grapefruit tree.  Now grown almost exclusively in South Texas, the juicy, sweet flesh is perfect for eating fresh or being squeezed into juice.

Besides their delicious flavor however, citrus fruits are extremely beneficial for good health.  Citrus fruits are a valuable source of vitamin C which is important for the immune system and helps to reduce inflammation.  Citrus fruits are also a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber - both of which help to lower cholesterol and aid in digestion.  In addition, citrus fruits are also high in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals as well as a great source of antioxidants.

Personally, I love citrus fruit for all of the health reasons I mentioned above.  But I think what I love most about citrus is the vibrant color and snappy freshness of the fruit at a time when this kind of flavor and color are in short supply. Definitely something to be grateful for this time of year.

What about you?  Any of your favorites make my list?  

Until next time,



Dotti said...

This might be the most beautiful collection of citrus photos I've ever seen! It makes me want to rush out and buy some - but it's stormy out so I think I'll wait. You've truly whet (whetted?) our taste buds this morning, Kelly! A glow of sunshine as we await brighter days ahead.

AFishGirl said...

Dotti and I are up early this morning and really she said exactly what I was thinking. So I'll say "What Dotti said" and get ready to head to the grocery door before our storm begins. Those blood oranges are here for such a short time and oh, so delicious.

Focusing on Life said...

Kelly, this is a stunning post! I am always amazed at the variety of beauty to be found in nature. Your pictures are so vibrant and juicy! Thanks for reminding us that pictures are everywhere!
And yes, you got my fav. I can't get past naval oranges - love them! And I eat grapefruit every morning. Going to have both this morning!

Kelly Kardos said...

I remember about a year ago there were samples of the Cara Cara....boom....loved them from the start. What a beautiful and vibrant post...and your calligraphy is spot on!

leigh said...

These colors just make me happy! and hungry! and thirsty!

Deanna said...

Oh such a bright post which I so need on this dreary day. I have sliced oranges in the refrigerator right now just waiting for me to enjoy!

terriporter said...

Oh, how beautiful these are! We have a naval orange and ruby red grapefruit in our backyard so I have those often but I just might need to head to the store for some of those blood oranges!

Irina Kolosovskaya said...

Love this colorful collection so much!!

Liz said...

What a fabulous post full of vibrant colour! Here in Australia we are sweltering in a Summer heatwave. I'm longing for the cooler days of Autumn.

Cathy H. said...

Kelly, what luscious fruits! They make my mouth water!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, colorful photos to brighten a snowy day! One thing I love about citrus is that it's one kind of fruit that ships well. The peaches and other soft fruits that are sold in the supermarkets here in Maine are picked so green for shipping that they are tasteless and never ripen properly. (I used to live in California and know what real, ripe fruit tastes like!) Oranges, grapefruit, and the like are a bright taste treat even after traveling thousands of miles to get here.

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