Monday, April 23, 2012

Celebrate Citrus !

What makes this fruit so appealing? Citrus is affordable and lends complexity to foods and often adds a missing flavor boost, not to mention the nutritional value of vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, calcium and phosphorus for a healthy heart and kidneys. The versatility of citrus is endless and even makes for a great ingredient in delicious cocktails. Not to mention the ubiquitous decorative group of lemons in a vase or bowl of oranges on a kitchen counter. The sweet aroma of spring blossoms is currently in the Redlands air, signifying the peak of citrus season. As a chef who revels in utilizing locally grown ingredients, I feel privledged to live in an area where flavorful citrus is available all year round. Love to cook with citrus squeeze oranges and lemons to make a great marinade, zest lemons to make wonderful lemon bars, squeeze fresh lemon, orange and lime on fresh seafood for a boost in flavor complexity and absolutely love starting the day with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. I love cooking with citrus of any type. What makes citrus such a great ingredient to infuse in cooking? Why citrus? Citrus fruits include lemons, limes, grapefruits, tangerines, kumquats, oranges and several hybrids. They are characterized by a thick rind, most of which is bitter white pith with a thin exterior layer of colored skin known as the zest. The flesh of citrus fruit is segmented and juicy. Citrus fruits are acidic with a strong aroma; their flavors vary from bitter to sweet. Citrus fruits grow on trees and shrubs in tropical and sub tropical climates worldwide. All citrus fruits are fully ripened on the tree and will not ripen further after harvesting. They should be refrigerated for longest storage. When selecting citrus at the farmer’s market or grocery store, look for fruits that feel heavy and have thin, smooth skins. Avoid those with large blemishes or moist spots.

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