So many fruits go out of season during the winter that it can get depressing when all you want is a fresh, sweet, juicy berry that hasn’t traveled half way around the world to get to you. Well, I can’t give you berries, but let’s talk about the many kinds of delicious citrus that are one of winter’s saving graces. A refreshing citrus cranberry smoothie is the perfect antidote to winter!
Winter citrus guide
Cara cara orange
A seedless reddish-pink fleshed orange with a sweet yet tangy flavor reminiscent of cranberries and raspberries.
Distinctly crimson or “blood” colored flesh gives this orange its name. The skin can be a bit tougher to peel than other oranges. Their flavor is pretty unique among all citrus fruits for tasting very raspberry-like. They’re most commonly used in salads and dressings.
Tangerines, also known as mandarin oranges, are smaller in size and have a looser peel than an orange. They’re commonly eaten as a snack and do contain seeds.
Very similar to the tangerine except without seeds, which makes them a popular snack. Clementines are easy to peel, juicy and sweet with less acid than an orange.
A large citrus fruit with whitish or pink flesh that is more bitter than the rest of the citrus fruits. They contain a flavonoid called naringin that gives them their distinct bitterness. When picking grapefruit, look for ones that are heavier than expected for their size. That means there is more flesh than rind, resulting in more juice.
The largest of the citrus fruits, pomelos have a thick, soft rind that’s pale green or yellow in color when ripe. They’re a juicy fruit but not particularly sweet, although not as bitter as a grapefruit. Unlike a grapefruit, they can’t be eaten with a spoon and need to be peeled.
A recently popular citrus in the food world, Meyer lemons are sweeter and less acidic than most lemons with a distinctly floral taste. They’re a deeper yellow and rounder than normal lemons, and you can smell their floral fragrance on the skin. They’re used more like a fruit for their sweetness rather than that distinct lip-puckering tartness of a traditional lemon.
Unless you’re going to use it right away, citrus is best kept refrigerated. It will usually keep for 2-3 weeks. Remove it from the refrigerator before eating as most citrus is juicer at room temperature. And a quick cooking tip if you need fresh squeezed juice in a recipe – roll the citrus on the counter back and forth with your hand a few times before cutting. This will help release the juice.
The Benefits of Citrus
Citrus fruits are not just tasty! They are loaded with nutrients that benefit all parts of the body, from your vision to your bones and heart. Of course we know citrus is a good source of vitamin C. Citrus also contains vitamin K, folate and potassium. And they’re a good source of cancer preventing flavonoids. The flavonoids not only prevent cancer growth but also help keep your heart healthy and fight free radicals.
Smoothies are one of my favorite ways to enjoy different citrus throughout the winter. It’s like a little piece of summer among the gray skies and bare trees. There’s hardly a time I ever make a smoothie the same way twice (so many possibilities!) but this one is perfect for one thing: refreshment. The combination of slightly sweet tangerines with tart cranberries (another winter gem!) is the perfect antidote to heavy holiday food.
If you wanted a more substantial smoothie you could add some vanilla protein powder and call it a meal replacement. If you wanted a sweeter smoothie, switch out the tangerines for cara cara oranges. You could even throw some spinach in this for a winter green smoothie if you want to go all-out healthy. You can definitely play with your citrus!