These 10 zesty varieties deserve a spot in your winter meals.
While fruit is often thought of as summertime produce, citrus fruits are in season during the winter. These varieties are perfect for adding a dash of bold, tangy flavor to dishes that might suffer from the lack of fresh fruits and veggies in the cooler months. From more common choices like clementines to unusual offerings like Buddha's hand, we've broken down below our top 10 favorite winter citrus fruits.
Part of the mandarin family, satsumas are known for being one of the sweetest citrus varieties. The peel can be pulled away easily from the tender interior, making them perfect for snacking on-the-go. The satsuma orange's delicately balanced flavor of sweet and tart lends itself well to both savory and sweet recipe applications. Since they're particularly juicy, satsumas are wonderful for juicing and adding to drinks, dressings, and marinades. Satsumas are in season from October to December.
Tiny and tender, kumquats are a unique winter fruit. Roughly the size of a large cherry, their taste is sweet and tart thanks to the different flavors of the fruit's skin and flesh. Best part? No peeling required; kumquats can be eaten whole, skin and all. These small fruits are great for thinly slicing and adding to baked goods, stirring into salsas, or tossing on a salad. Kumquats are in season from November to March.
Native to Australia, this mini citrus variety is as delicious as it is strange looking. Named finger limes due to their size and shape (most never go beyond three inches in length), these fruits also come in colors ranging from green to red. Finger lime's pulp is distinct from any other citrus variety, with the flesh forming tiny balls that keep their shape until eaten (making them faintly resemble a citrus-based caviar). Use finger lime pulp to top salads, desserts, or even add a tangy twist to seafood dishes. Finger limes are at their peak flavor during mid-winter.
A hybrid of the mandarin orange and the bitter Seville orange, clementines are a balanced flavor of sweet and citrusy. The majority are grown in Spain, with a small amount also being exported from Morocco. Virtually seedless and with an easy-to-peel skin, clementines are a very kid-friendly citrus fruit. These fruits are great in a sweet or savory sauce, as an addition to baked goods, or on their own as a snack. Clementines are in season from October to February.
A slightly intimidating looking fruit, Buddha's hand got its name due its many 'fingers'. Not just unusual in appearance, Buddha's hand is different from other citrus varieties because it has no juice or pulp. The entire fruit is made from skin and pith, making it a flavor bomb for adding to recipes. The skin can be zested like any regular citrus fruit, but the pith (which is normally bitter in other varieties) is mild enough that the entire fruit can be used in recipes. Add thinly sliced Buddha's hand to salt or sugar to make flavored versions, layer slices on meat before baking to infuse a citrusy taste, or add strips to a salad to brighten up the flavor. Buddha's hand is in season from late fall to early winter.
Commonly used and abused as a breakfast for dieters, grapefruit is a wonderful citrus variety with so much more potential. With just a hint of sweetness and a bold tartness, grapefruits can add a bit of tang to your next meal. Widely available in grocery stores year-round, grapefruits are best added in juice or wedge form to salads, desserts, and cocktails for a zippy twist. Grapefruits are at their peak flavor from October to June.
Just ever-so-slightly different in appearance from a traditional lemon, Meyer lemons truly stand out when it comes to a taste test. This citrus fruit is slightly larger than regular lemons (thanks to its juicy pulp), with a darker yellow skin that resembles the color of an egg yolk. A Meyer lemon's juice is significantly less tart than traditional lemons, with a refreshing tang paired alongside a sweetness reminiscent of oranges. Use Meyer lemons to flavor salad dressing, marinades, and desserts, or simply slice and candy the whole fruit. Meyer lemons are in season from November to March.
If you're not a grapefruit fan due to its bitter tang, then a pomelo may be just what you need. One of the largest citrus fruits (it's roughly the size of a bowling ball when ripe), pomelos come in a variety of colors, with their skin ranging from yellow to green and the flesh varying between pink and white. The taste is similar to a grapefruit, though significantly sweeter and lacking that distinct bitter bite. When prepping pomelos, you can make segmenting the fruit easier by removing as much of the skin and pith as you can beforehand. Use pomelos in seafood salads, cocktails, or to infuse liquors. Pomelos are in season from November to April.
Tangerines have skyrocketed in popularity during the last decade or so. With the marketing of kid-friendly varieties like Cuties, this citrus fruit had become a go-to snack for families. Their appeal is their small size, easily removable peel, and sweet flavor. Tangerines are a subset of the mandarin family, with the main distinction between the two fruits being the tangerine's darker skin color. Use these sweet fruits in sorbets, smoothies, desserts, and cocktails. Tangerines are in season between October and January.
These shockingly red fruits make for impressive meal additions. Equal parts tart and sweet, with a hint of berry-like flavor, blood oranges stand out due to their rich hue. With a reddish-orange skin and deep ruby flesh, simply halving this citrus variety can make for a beautiful presentation. If you're wanting to go beyond eating the fruit as-is though, blood oranges are perfect for marmalades, cocktails, salads, and salsas. Blood oranges are in season December to May.