Ointerior can often be dark, windy and cold. Yet it is during these gloomy months that our brightest and sweetest citrus fruits flourish. Across North America, ruby grapefruits, navel oranges, tangerines, kumquats, lemons, tangerines, satsumas, and pomelos reach their peak during the winter.
Stretching along the downtown Berkeley Saturday Farmers’ Market, several ranches and farms line the street with their bright citrus on display. Brokaw Ranch Company, Kaki Farm, and Flying Disc Ranch are just a few of the small farms I’ve seen that sell citrus to our Berkeley community.
“We have navel oranges right now, we have eureka lemons, meiwa kumquats, star ruby grapefruits, moro blood oranges, passion fruit. We have a really awesome clementine,” said Nina Jackson, an Oakland resident who sells for Brokaw Ranch, located just south of Ventura County in Southern California.
Jackson told me that farms like Brokaw benefit from the climate, especially in Southern California. “It’s kind of like the perfect conditions,” Jackson said.
Here in Berkeley, we are fortunate to have our Farmers Market which encompasses a variety of farms across California. This allows us to have citrus all year round and not just in winter. “We are constantly growing, picking, producing, sorting and selling citrus fruits,” Jackson said.
Nevertheless, winter is the best time to enjoy various citrus fruits. How can we use this seasonal produce to both support our local farmers and get out of the winter rut? The possibilities are endless, but I suggest a few: palomas, citrus salads and cakes and shortbread.
“Personally, I love making cocktails with grapefruit. …If you want to add a bit of interest to your juice or dressing, blood oranges are great for that,” said Jackson.
Readers over 21 might choose to start their wintry citrus journey with a refreshing drink: a paloma.
- 2 ounces of tequila
- 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
- Juice of a lime
- teaspoon of agave
- 2 ounces of sparkling water
Squeeze a grapefruit that has just started to overripe to get 2 ounces of grapefruit juice. Add the juice and an equal amount of tequila to a mug with the lime juice and agave, then stir vigorously.
If you feel like it, rub the rim of your glass with grapefruit or agave juice and dip it in salt. Finally, place the desired amount of ice in your glass, pour your mixture over the ice and top off the drink with sparkling water. If you ever have any doubts, remember that this recipe has a general ratio of 2:2:2.
Palomas can be as inexpensive as your student budget requires. Make them with a $14 a bottle of tequila from Trader Joe’s, or go for a nicer bottle of Casamigos or Patron Silver if you have a surplus this month.
Now that your taste buds are tingling and your fruit basket is still overflowing with citrus, let’s whip up something savory.
A hearty citrus salad makes a great savory starter or even a meal on its own. Ali Slagle, New York Times revenue contributorinspired me to pair salmon with citrus in its ginger-dill salmon recipe. However, you may prefer to use a different meat or a vegetarian option.
- 3 pieces of citrus fruits (navel oranges, grapefruit, blood oranges, etc.)
- ½ avocado
- ½ bulb of fennel or bushel of young radishes
- Drop of olive oil
- teaspoon of ginger
- 3 tablespoons chopped herbs
- Teaspoon of white miso (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cooked salmon, grilled chicken, roasted chickpeas, cereals or roasted vegetables
To make a basic citrus salad, I used a grapefruit and two blood oranges from Brokaw Ranch; however, you can use three pieces of citrus. Cut the peel and peel off the fruit, but don’t throw it away. Cut the fruit several times crosswise to obtain flower-shaped citrus slices.
Peel and cut half an avocado into eighths. Next, thinly slice the fennel or radishes for extra crunch. Arrange your citrus fruits, your crunchy vegetables and your avocado slices in your serving dish.
In a separate bowl, squeeze the remaining juice from your peels and toss it with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, ginger, miso (optional), and your herb of choice. Following the Slagle recipe, I used dill, but feel free to use cilantro, basil, rosemary, or whatever takes your fancy. This will be your bandage.
Season and cook your salmon as desired – grill it, bake it or sear it. However, if fish isn’t your thing or over your budget, feel free to pair this salad with grilled chicken instead. You can also use grains like farro and quinoa or roasted vegetables and chickpeas. Place your choice of accessories on your citrus bed. Pour your homemade vinaigrette over your salad and garnish with a sprig of the herb of your choice.
And There you go! You are a fancy chef student.
You can never go wrong with a citrus dessert, whether it’s citrus shortbread, lemon poppyseed cake, lemon bars or lemon pound cake. One of my favorites is Claire Saffitz’s Blood Orange Upside-Down Olive Oil Cake – the bitter marrow and sweet syrup of the fruit pair beautifully. However, if you’re looking for something sweet yet simple to put your winter citrus to good use, an easy citrus shortcake might be a better option.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup rice flour, cornstarch, or all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- The zest of two pieces of citrus fruit (lemon or orange)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 tablespoon citrus juice
- ¾ cup icing sugar
This recipe makes about 16 squares of shortbread. Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish.
Mix your flour with salt and rice flour or cornstarch. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use all-purpose flour.
Zest your citrus fruits in a separate bowl, reserving a pinch of zest for garnish. Using your fingers, rub the zest into the granulated sugar. When you do, sharp sugar grains break the zest, releasing its aromatic oils and filling the sugar with its flavor. Next, mix the butter with your zest infused sugar. Blend until the butter and sugar mixture is light and fluffy. If you don’t have an electric mixer, beat your sugar by hand until the sugar is completely combined or until your arm gives out. Then add a tablespoon of your citrus juice to the butter and mix it in.
Then, slowly mix the flour with your butter mixture until the two are just combined. Press your tangy batter into the bottom of your prepared baking dish and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes. When it’s done, the shortbread should be just golden on the sides. Before cooling, cut out the general shape of your cookies, then let them cool in the mould.
While your cookies are cooling, prepare your frosting. For this, take 1 tablespoon of your citrus juice, and mix it with 1 tablespoon of melted butter and icing sugar. You can adjust the consistency of your icing by adding more sugar to make it thicker or more juice to thin it out.
Once they have completely cooled, remove the cookies from the pan, dip them in your frosting and enjoy your beautiful creation.
By customizing the citrus mix you use for this recipe (I opted for a ridiculous number of lemons from Flying Disc Ranch), you can choose your own path when it comes to the flavor profile of your shortbread. Lemons provide a zestier, tangier option, while the zest of an orange gives off a more floral, sweet flavor.
Creating change within our food system, or even just considering our food system, can be daunting. However, it’s important to find pleasure in your efforts to create change – and there’s perhaps no better way to do that than by eating the most delicious seasonal produce and exploring new recipes. to make you happy in the kitchen. By educating ourselves and exploring seasonal agriculture, we can create a symbiotic relationship with our farmers, uplift our communities and our spirits while enjoying treats made from local produce.
While these recipe suggestions may seem a little too complicated for your taste, Jackson reminded me that citrus fruits can be used with as much simplicity or complexity as we want.
“They are amazing and so versatile…even just for a snack,” jackson said. “Everything you see here is just nice to keep in your backpack.”
Contact Isabelle Bollinger at [email protected].