Citrus Fruit

“When I was young, my parents would put an orange in my Christmas stocking and that was quite a treat!” Who among us has not heard this story from a nostalgic grandparent?

The orange may no longer top the Christmas gift list, but it certainly is a year-round treat for the whole family. Thanks to the progress made in the growing, harvesting and transportation processes, citrus fruits have now become an integral part of our daily menus. Our grandparents would definitely approve!

Citrus are a variety of fruits with a slightly acid taste and high vitamin C content. The flesh is divided into segments and the outer protective layer is called the skin, peel or rind. Lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruits and mandarins are all part of the citrus fruit family.

Tips and advice

* Choose firm, smooth-skinned, shiny, brightly-coloured citrus fruits and avoid those with soft spots, bruises and discoloured skins. A very rough peel is generally thick, which is a sign that the fruit may be small and dry on the inside. Heavy, thinner-skinned citrus fruits tend to be juicier than light, thick-skinned fruits.
* The peel of a citrus fruit has many uses: it can be cooked to make marmalade, it makes a great treat when candied or it can be grated or sliced finely into small strips to flavour desserts and herbal teas. Before cooking the peel, wash and brush the fruit in warm water to clear any residue. When grating a peel, always work with the whole fruit to get a better grip and reduce the risk of inadvertently grating your fingers in the process. The peels of citrus fruit can be frozen or dehydrated.
* To increase the flavour of citrus fruits, take them out of the refrigerator and leave them at room temperature for a few minutes before eating them. If you are planning to use the peel, gently knead the fruit a few seconds to release the essential oils.
* Before extracting the juice from the fruit, place it on a hard surface and roll it back and forth several times with the palm of your hand. This action breaks down some of the juice cells and as a result, you will obtain more juice.
* Never use metal utensils when cooking with citrus fruits because it could significantly affect the taste of your dish.
* Before cutting citrus fruits, peel them and place them in the freezer for 10 minutes to obtain perfect slices.

Nutritional value

Citrus fruits are part of a well-balanced diet because they supply several nutrients that are essential for the maintenance of good health:

* Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, allows for a better absorption of iron and has anti-oxidizing properties which will protect you against cardiovascular diseases.
* The consumption of an average-size orange supplies approximately 70 mg of vitamin C, which is more than the recommended daily requirement. For a woman, the recommended daily requirement is 30 mg; for a man, it is 40 mg. For smokers, the minimum daily requirement is increased by 50%.
* Folic acid is a vitamin that is very beneficial to pregnant women because it reduces the risks of malformation of the foetus. Citrus fruits with orange flesh contain larger amounts of folic acid.
* Vitamin A, beta-carotene, stimulates the immune system and plays a role in the prevention of cancer. Mandarins and tangerines are excellent sources of this vitamin.
* Potassium is an important nutrient for the proper functioning of both the heart and kidneys.

Storage life

On average, citrus fruits may be kept at room temperature for a week. To conserve citrus fruits for a longer period, place them in the fruit drawer of the refrigerator. More fragile citrus fruits such as mandarins and tangerines should be stored in a cool place. Avoid storing them in a cold environment, the fruit may become damaged.

Storing citrus fruits in a plastic bag or air-tight container causes condensation which accelerates the deterioration of the fruit. We recommend punching small holes in the bag or leaving the container half-opened.


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