Need some extra flavor? Lemon to the rescue!
Citrus fruits include lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, mandarins, pomelos and more. Most of these fruits date back to ancient times where they were first cultivated in South and East Asia. Now we see the popular Florida oranges, Eureka lemons, and Mexican limes in every grocery store across the country.
With a light, refreshing appeal and balanced taste of sweet and sour, it’s no wonder these fruits are a go-to for a variety of dishes and beverages. Citrus fruits add flavor and pizazz to drinks, marinades, sauces, salad dressings and sweet treats. Not only does the flavor go a long way, but every part of the fruit adds a burst of nutrition! From the zest of the peel to the fresh squeezed juice, these fruits are ripened with Vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber (when eaten whole) to keep us healthy and happy year-round.
Here are some quick tips on how to get the most out of your citrus fruits this season:
Purchase citrus fruits with a thin peel. This means there is more juice on the inside. The fruit should feel heavier when compared to those of equal size with thicker peels. Just for fun: Take your budding chefs through the produce section for a citrus scavenger hunt. Can your little shoppers find all the different types of citrus fruits?
Store citrus at room temperature for up to 7 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Temperature of the fruit is a personal preference, but cold storage will delay the fruit from getting soft and helps prevent mold.
Roll the fruit back and forth on a hard surface under the palm of your hand before cutting. Rolling with a slight pressure helps release the juices from their cells which will give you more juice and flavor.
Zest the outer peel using a microplane and add this to dressings, baked goods, and dessert fillings. Microplanes are such a fun tool for all ages and allows kids to get involved with cooking, too! The zest is highly concentrated in flavor (and nutrients!). Just be sure to only remove the outermost layer. The white skin below is very bitter.
Cut, juice & cook!
After rolling and/or zesting, get creative with adding these flavors to a variety of seasonal dishes and drinks. Make a flavored water or spritzer with freshly squeezed lemon juice, fresh mint leaves, a splash of your favorite spritzer, and garnish with slices of lemons and limes. Make a marinade for any global cuisine using the juice. The citric acid from the juice breaks down the tough proteins to tenderize the meat. Use a spatula to rub the zest into granulated sugar before baking to help release the natural oils and give a pop of flavor. And don’t forget to color your final plates with a nice garnish of lime wedges (great for balancing flavor of spicy dishes) or lemon slices (which is great for a finishing touch on fish).
Looking for more ways to use these fruits? Join us in the Kitchen for more tasty tips! Try our Pineapple Chicken Satay and Thai Dipping Sauce in our Adult Tasty Thai class or satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade Cannolis flavored with orange zest in A Taste of Italy. Drop your kids off for cooking camp for an All-American Road Trip where they’ll use fresh orange juice to make a Cuban Mojo sauce and a refreshing Frozen Lemonade (recipe below). Find any of these entertaining cooking classes at a Taste Buds Kitchen near you.
This Frozen Lemonade recipe is the perfect treat on a hot, summer day. Using freshly squeezed juice, zest, and slices to garnish, your lemons won’t go to waste. Roll, roll, roll those lemons to get as much juice as you can! Have fun garnishing your cups or festive mason jars with a sugared rim or make a pink lemonade variation by adding frozen strawberries. This refreshing drink is great for a family night on the patio or a pool party with friends.