Ideas for Preserving Citrus Fruit

| 2/18/2015 9:33:00 AM

Tags: Citrus, Tammy Kimbler, Minnesota,

Navel Oranges and Triple Sec by Tammy Kimbler

We are huge fans of citrus fruit at our house. My partner devours grapefruits. We can’t keep my daughter stocked in blood oranges. Me? I love it all. Key limes, Meyer lemons, kumquats, pumelos, Seville oranges, mandarines, kaffir limes, citrons - the list of citrus is truly long.  I have yet to meet a fruit that I didn’t like.

December thru March is citrus season in the United States. From California, across the southern states to Florida, the citrus fruit harvest is well underway. Ironically, although we associate citrus trees with warm weather, the signature bright colors actual require a cool winter (but not freezing) for their skin to turn. The maturity of the fruit, however, is independent from their color. Green-skinned citrus is often found in tropical climates.

Originating somewhere between Australia and New Guinea [1], citrus has spread and hybridized repeatedly around the world. While we often think of citrus for eating out of hand, many citrus varieties are grown specifically for their zest, oil, leaves and of course, vitamin C (citric acid). Kafir limes, for example, are primarily grown for the flavor their leaves impart in Southeast Asian curries. Citrus is also grown as an ornamental shrub (I have one on my porch) both indoors and out. During the Renaissance many famous royal gardens featured “Orangeries” [2] in greenhouses. Our own George Washington had an expansive Orangery at Mount Vernon that even Thomas Jefferson envied. [3]

With such a short season, we try to preserve as much citrus as we can for the rest of the year. Although you can still get grapefruit, lemons and oranges in July, they’ve usually been in cold storage or been shipped from South America. Preserving citrus is pretty easy. Here are some flexible techniques you can try with almost any type of citrus, recipe links included. Challenge yourself to change out the types fruit in these recipes and create flavors all your own.

Preserved Lemons and Citron by Tammy Kimbler

Preserving Citrus with Salt

Salt and citrus may seem at odds, but bitter, sour, sweet and salty make up four of the five legs of balanced flavors (the other being umami.) Preserved lemons are probably the best known salt-preserved citrus, but there is the also the lesser known Indian lime pickles. Each technique uses the whole fruit, cut up and packed in salt. The juice comes out and makes a salty brine, softening the fruit. Indian lime pickles go further and add aromatics and spices to the mixture. Both can be used to liven up dressings, sauces, curries, rice (preserved lemons are traditional in Morocan tagines), fish and poultry. I like to add preserved lemon to apple pie. Lime pickle goes into my Indian curried potatoes. Another salt preservations technique is citrus salt. It’s amazing in cooking and baking, and so easy to make. You’ll smack yourself if you’ve purchased it at the store. Consisting of nothing more than citrus zest and kosher or sea salt, I use citrus salt as a finisher sprinkled on salads, meats, popcorn and roasted vegetables as well as in salted desserts like ice cream, chocolates and cookies.

2/18/2015 3:36:39 PM

Hi Tammy I love your post on preserving Citrus fruits. I am from the island of Dominica where we grew different variety of citrus fruits on our farm, and they are still some of my favorite fruit. Over the years of eating them so much I have developed a allergic reaction to grapefruits. I will be trying a few of your recipes. Thanks a bunch for sharing. Best Freda http;//

2/18/2015 1:20:23 PM

Hello, I wanted to add to this wonderful list fermented orange chilli sauce, an orange pickle, and orange scrap vinegar whose pulp is a beauty mask!

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