This family of fruits is quite interesting for many reasons, they are not lacking in the nutritional corner, nor in other areas like health, beauty, cooking (or even in aesthetics lol).
Also, this might be a controversial statement but Citrus might low-key be the ‘Rice’ of fruits, it counts as a staple to me because globally there is something going on with citrus, whether it’s for juice, cocktails, marinating, cooking, baking… lime is used a lot in Mexican cooking, kaffir limes in Indian cooking, yuzu in Japanese cooking, calamansi is popular in the Filipino food scene, lemons are popular all over from America to the Mediterranean etc.
In today’s article we will discuss the following;
- What type of fruits are citrus?
- Health benefits of citrus fruits
- What are the uses of citrus in the kitchen?
What type of fruits are Citrus?
Firstly, how can we describe citrus fruits? Citrus refer to a group of acidic fruits, that have a varying range of flavors and taste; from different levels of sweetness to tangy and different parts of the fruits have different tastes. They are originally natives of Asia and Australia but now different varieties of the fruits are grown on other continents.
What type of fruits are Citrus? Fruits like orange, lemon, lime, tangerines, grapefruits, citron, key lime, calamansi, regular lime and …. Etc. another thing to note is that there are some original species of citrus and then there are; naturally occurring and artificial hybrids of citrus.
Popular examples of hybrids of citrus fruits are tangelo, clementine, pomelos…. Etc.
Health benefits of citrus fruits
- They are rich in vit. C
- They have anti oxidizing properties, good for fighting cancer.
- They are an excellent source of fiber, when eaten raw with the pulp intact.
- While the glycemic index of citrus fruits are not the same, some citrus fruits have low glycemic index making them suitable for diabetics.
- They help reduce cholesterol level….
For more about the health benefits read this healthline article
Different great ways of using citrus fruits in the Kitchen
For cooking, citrus fruits are used as condiments; whole, juice and their zests too. The sweet and sometimes tartness compliment many different flavors in dishes.
- Citrus juice; A splash of citrus towards the end of the cooking time; in sauces help to cut the grease in the meal and it adds freshness and a bright flavor to dishes. They go well in salad dressings and cooked vegetables. You can just sprinkle/squeeze some over cooked fish and other cooked proteins.
The juices are also used for marinating proteins in place of yoghurt, or buttermilk. This also helps to breakdown the proteins (thereby tenderizing the meat).
The juices are used to make refreshing beverages, cocktails and healthy drinks. You can use in place of vinegars for cheese making and buttermilk making due to its acidic levels.
The juice is a binding agent when making jam, it is a key ingredient in jam making. As for baking there are quite a number of recipes that work with different citrus fruits, a popular baked treats is that incorporates our star of the day is pies, e.g. the key lime pie, there are also tarts and much more.
- Citrus zest; talk about a punch of flavor, you are talking about zests. Zest come with that ‘zing’ of theirs and make everything better.
Citrus zests go into dressings, breading, salads, cakes, meringues, sweets, pies, tarts, etc. they are also used to dress the rims of cocktails… something about a classic lime zest x salt x chili powder to take your tequila to the next. Blanched and candied zests are also quite a treat, truly the possibilities as to what you can do with zests are endless.
The white bit (rinds) of citrus fruits are often bitter so they are also often avoided
Not all citrus taste the same, so they might be used interchangeably really. You need to pick what suits your dish best.
Citrus work well with either sweet and savory dishes or treats.
Bye products of citrus fruits like loomi, which is a black lime (dried lime actually) are very healthy and give a good flavor to dishes. It is a meditwerrean condiment.
There are many more uses, and recipes that call for citrus fruits, have fun trying some out in the near future. Thank you for reading.