Tag Archives: citrus

Mysterious Produce of Washington Heights

According to New York City’s Department of City Planning, between 80% to 90% of my neighbors are of “Hispanic Origin (of any race)” — but anyone who’s been to this part of Washington Heights knows almost everyone here is from the Dominican Republic. As a result, I often run into fruits and vegetables that I’ve never eaten or even seen before.

Recently, when I saw naranja agria, I remembered enough high school Spanish to know it meant “bitter orange” but I had no idea what anyone would want to do with them. Eat them? Juice them? Pity them for looking like they do?

you'd be bitter too, if you were this ugly

My husband theorized, “I’d be bitter, too, if I were that ugly.”


Lime Tips

Now that we’ve gotten the basics of citrua out of the way, I’d like to get into the specifics of a few cultivars of the citrus family. Specifically, limes. While there are many varieties of limes, there are two in which most Americans are most familiar – the Key Lime and the Persian Lime.

Key Limes are the little 2 inch limes colored a yellow/green. Persion limes, probably a hybrid between key limes and the citrion, are the color of, well, limes. There are other cultivars out there, but I’m going to focus mostly on these two.

  • Persian Limes are available year round.
  • Key Limes peak season runs from June through August.
  • Persian Limes should be brightly colored and heavy in weight for their weight. They should feel hard when squeezed.
  • Key Limes should be a light greenish-yellow skin and a fine grained skin.
  • Small brown areas, won’t affect flavor.
  • Avoid limes with hard, shriveled skins.
  • Persian limes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
  • Key limes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • 6 to 8 limes = 1 lb.
  • 1 medium = 1 1/2 Tablespoons juice.
  • Limes go with bananas, basil, cashews, chicken, chiles, cilantro, coconut, fish, jimaca, lychee, mint, passion fruit, pineapple, pork, seafood, tequlia, or tomato.
  • Wash limes thoroughly if you plan to use the skin.
tags technorati : Food Tips Limes Citrus

Citrus Fruit Biology

Before delving (yes, it’s a word)too far into the world of Citrus, it’s probably a good idea to get basic biology of the fruit down pat, and then turn it into food terms so that the differences in the fruits can be discerned.

First things first however. Citrus fruits actually have their own special name – hesperidium. It means “berry with a leathery rind”. So now we have another euphamism for naughty male bits, as in “Nigel, if your going to play rugby, it’s best to protect your hesperidiums.” Let’s see if we can get the young folks to work that into their vernacular, shall we?

Generally speaking, a citrus fruit has 6 components that comprise the fruit. They are:

  • Exocarp: aka the Flavedo. This is what we foodies consider the zest of the fruit. Other people consider it the outside part of the skin. It’s the part of the fruit that is colored and fair amount of oils that taste great.
  • Mesocarp: aka the Albedo, or the white, inner part of the skin, usually an off white color and differing thickness depending on the fruit. This section, although edible, is quite bitter and is best left alone.
  • Endocarp: The Juice ventricles found within each slice of citrus. It’s the tasty bit that has the juice. A juice that coincidentally has a fair amount of citric acid. Funny how that worked out, huh?
  • Septum: The skin that surrounds the Endocarp, that in turn creats the fruit segments.
  • Seeds: The..uh…seeds. The hard things which we spit out or de-seed.
  • Central Axis: aka “The Pith” or “That long stringy thing in the middle of the fruit that’s terribly easy to pull out of a tangerine, but darn near impossible to pull out in a lemon”.

With this knowledge, we can move on to more specific fruits. Hooray!

Technorati Tags: Food, Citrus Fruits, Biology


Citrus fruits have been domesticated by humans since at least 4000 BC.

As opening lines go, the above isn’t really a catchy one, but it is the truth. As I’ve company visiting me this week, catchy will have to take a back seat for a while.

“Citrus” is a common term, covering a vast array for plants in the family Rutaceae. The weird thing is, the citrus you and I know today, probably didn’t exist back in the day. For example – The Navel orange was a bud sport from an orange in Bahia, Brazil, which was introduced into southern California in 1871. In 1913, the pink grapefruit cultivar was discovered. The Blood Orange has come onto the scene only within the past 100 years. The citrus fruits that most of us take for granted are simply decendants of a very few select fruits.

The best information we have indicates that the following were most likely the first citrus fruits that humans had domesticated:

  • Citrus maxima, aka the pummelo (Malaysia)
  • Citrus medica, aka the citron (India)
  • Citrus reticulata, aka the mandarin (China)

I’ll over more of these details soon enough. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be covering and researching the citrus fruits. Recipes and tips and hints and other such stuff will be (ahem) on the menu.

Technorati Tags: Food, Citrus

Tasting Notes: Pomelo

PomeloEvery once in a while, the neighborhood grocery store will stock a unique fruit or veggie in their produce section. Yesterday, that fruit was a pomelo. Never having seen a pomelo before, I jmped at the chance to see just what I’ve been missing.

A Pomelo is a citrus fruit. It is the parent of the grapefruit. In fact the grapefruit is simply a hybrid between a pomelo and an orange. As you can see from the picture, I didn’t pick up the ripest of the fruits, but only because I had no idea on what I was getting myself into.

Eyes: About the size of a large grapefruit, the skin was a lime green. In looking at wikipedia, I find that this is not typical, as a ripe pomelo is usually a pale green to yellow when ripe. The rind and flesh are both very firm, both indicating that the fruit is not fully mature.

Nose: Smells like a grapefruit. This is hardly a revelation.

Taste: The fruit is quite good, even if not fully ripe. It’s not tart at all, as one might expect a grapefruit to be. It’s not overly sweet either. In fact, it’s a very subdued sweet, which makes it quite tasty.

Overall: Hey, it’s a new fruit to track down on a regular basis. As Pomelo’s are now grown in California, I’m looking to see this more often in my grocery store. I would most assuredly purchase again.

Technorati Tags: Food, pomelo, tasting notes