During the winter, European citrus are at their juiciest and sweetest so what better time to celebrate these bright and vibrant fruits (and the extra boost of vitamin C)? From beautiful blood oranges and marmalade-perfect Seville varieties, juicy lemons to sweet clementines, here’s a guide to the best citrus to eat right now.
Just like any fruit or vegetable, citrus fruit are subject to the seasons. Seasonal food is local food and while the majority of Farmdrop’s produce is grown in the UK, we also want to support the farmers growing fruit that we can’t grow in our colder climes. We believe it’s better to get our clementines and oranges from Spain or Italy than it is from much further afield. And with European citrus right in season now, there’s no better time to eat it.
The majority of Farmdrop’s winter citrus fruit comes from the incredible Langridge Organic who support small farmers in Italy and Spain who are committed to growing organic, pesticide-free fruit. Langridge says: “Spain and Italy are the two main citrus producers in Europe producing beautiful fruit that grow in a combination of winter sun and cooler nights to really bring out their best flavour”. We couldn’t agree more.
Let’s start with the humble orange. Just like apples and pears, there are many different varieties of the orange we know and love. The most common two are Navel oranges and Valencia oranges, which are both popular for their juicy sweetness. It’s best to catch them when they’re at their best. During the winter season, Navel oranges are heavy, juicy and delicious. We like to eat them straight up or squeezed into a fiery morning juice with ginger and carrot. Alternatively, peel and thinly slice them and serve with a dusting of cinnamon for a healthy dessert.
The blood orange season is short, so now (between January and March) is the time to enjoy them. Blood oranges are a natural mutation of the orange, which itself is a hybrid. The distinctive dark flesh colour is all down to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of antioxidant pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but not often seen in citrus fruits. It’s beautiful colour and juicy flesh works wonders sliced up into a fruit salad or a winter slaw of shredded cabbage, fennel and carrots. Or pair blood oranges with chicken in this deliciously simple traybake chicken recipe.
A large, thick-skinned citrus fruit with a distinctive tartness, organic grapefruit is good at keeping company with both sweet and savoury flavours. Its sour-sweet acidity works really well with delicate shellfish – use it in place of lemon in your next salad dressing, paired with crab, which is right in season now. Its refreshing tang makes a lovely marmalade too. Or pair it with gin in this Grapefruit & Thyme Cocktail recipe.
Seville oranges have a thick, dimpled skin with a very tart and bitter flavour. They are perfect for making your homemade marmalade as they have higher pectin levels than sweet oranges. These organic Seville oranges are grown on Ave Maria organic farm in Sevilla (Spain) by three women dedicated to maintaining the orchards dating back to 1867! There is a long history of exporting Seville oranges to the UK to make the very British bitter marmalade. Want to try it yourself? Here’s a good old-fashioned marmalade recipe.
Clementines, like most citrus, reach peak sweetness in the cold depths of winter when very little else is growing. Clementines are part of the same family as tangerines and satsumas, falling under the overarching mandarin category. They’re all a type of orange, but are smaller, sweeter and easier to peel, making them a perfect straight-up snack especially for the little ones. Get your mitts on these incredibly sweet organic clementines.
The sourest of the citrus family, lemons are a hybrid of citron and bitter orange, and the all-round powerhouse of modern day kitchens. You can get many different varieties of lemon, of which the most common is the Eureka or Lisbon. There are also Meyer lemons, which are smaller than the regular ones we’re used to and slightly less sour so you can add them raw to salads. Lemons are at their best right now. Try preserving these organic lemons whole for a wonderful umami hit to salads, tagines and sandwiches all year round. Here’s a step-by-step guide.
For more organic winter fruit and vegetables delivered direct to your door, head to the grocery on farmdrop.com.