Winter can be a boring time in the fresh produce world – CSA box delivery stops, friends no long offer ruby red tomatoes and armloads of zucchini from their overflowing home gardens, and salads (raw vegetables in general, come to think of it) sound too chilling as the temperatures drop. Before you set up camp on your couch with a blanket and a bag of nacho cheese chips, however, consider exploring the world of unique citrus fruits in your home cooking.
Sunny, cheerful citrus fruits are actually in season during the cold winter months, making this the perfect time to get creative with some of the lesser known varietals. Adding variety to your healthy diet is a simple way to avoid boredom and keep your taste buds happy.
Citrus fruits aren’t just pretty and tasty, however – they’re also highly nutritious. Vitamin C, found in large quantities in citrus fruits, can ease the symptoms of seasonal colds and flus. Citrus is full of flavonoids, which can help you manage your cholesterol levels, and they contain anti-cancer antioxidants as well. Also, Freshly-squeezed citrus juice and zest offers a calorie-free, sodium-free, all-natural way to add flavor to so many kinds of dishes, from chicken to smoothies. Check out these seven unique citrus beauties and discover delicious recipes to help you incorporate them into your diet:
1. Meyer lemons.
Meyer lemons, the trendy cousin of traditional lemons, are sweeter, less acidic, and more herbal than the typical type you’re used to. They lend a delicate and unique flavor note to any lemon recipe and elevate the “gourmet factor” of whatever you’re making. Try this healthy twist on lemon bars made with Meyer lemons for a tasty sweet treat to bring to work or send with your kids to school: Healthy Meyer Lemon Squares
Image Credit: @chanut.anthony
Similar to grapefruit in flavor but much larger and much less bitter, pomelos are great if you find grapefruits too sour for your liking. They have thick, pale green skins and white-yellow flesh, and you can find them at Asian grocery stores. They’re often used in a flavorful, savory Thai salad called Dtam Som Oo – make it for yourself with this accessible recipe: Thai Pomelo Salad
3. Cara cara oranges.
Cara cara oranges look like typical navel oranges from the outside, but peeling one reveals gorgeous red flesh with a sweeter, brighter flavor than a navel orange. They’re also seedless, making them a super-convenient snacking orange! Pair their distinctive flavor with mellow avocado and salty feta in this crave-worthy salad recipe: Cara Cara Orange Avocado and Feta Salad
4. Ugli fruit.
The ugli fruit is a hybrid tangelo found in Jamaica – it’s created by hybridizing grapefruits, oranges, and tangerines. The resulting fruit isn’t quite as ugly as the name might lead you to believe, though it does have a knobby wrinkled green-yellow skin that might be off-putting at first. The fruit is very juicy and sweet and makes for a unique tropical meal when combined with avocado as a fish topping in this mouth-watering recipe: Baked Haddock with Uglimole
Image Credit: @lena_otvo
Kumquats, which look like tiny, adorable oval oranges, are unique in the citrus world since their skin is sweet and their flesh is sour. They can be eaten whole like grapes due to the lovely flavor of the skin – bring some to your office for a tasty afternoon treat during a long workday. If you’re curious about exploring the flavors of Moroccan cuisine, make this Kumquat Tagine for a comforting homemade meal on a cold night.
6. Kaffir limes.
Asian in origin, kaffir limes look like bumpier versions of a traditional lime and they’re prized for their fragrant essential oil, leaves, and rinds. The leaves can be used like bay leaves to add flavor to a variety of dishes – look for them at your nearest Asian grocer. Next time you’re having company over for dinner, wow them with this visually-stunning dish: Scallops Wrapped in Kaffir Lime Leaves
Image Credit: @prozach25_ud
7. Variegated pink lemons.
It turns out there ARE pink lemons for pink lemonade! Variegated pink lemons, sometimes called Eureka lemons after the way in which they were discovered, have faint green stripes on the outside and gorgeous rosy flesh on the inside. They’re a beautiful fruit to feature sliced in a mixed drink or atop a lemon-flavored cake, or use them in this Honey Sweetened Strawberry Lemonade recipe for an extra dash of pink goodness.
8. Blood limes.
Blood limes look like traditional limes in all ways but one – they’re the color of blood! An exotic, eye-catching fruit with a slightly sweeter lime flavor, they’re perfect for garnishing food or adding a gourmet touch to a standard dish. Try them in this Blood Lime Crème Brûlée for the perfect marriage of tart and sweet.
Main Image Credit: @brooklynmadden