Seasonal Bounty: Citrus

clockwise from left to right: white grapefruit, satsuma, blood orange, lemon, Valencia orange

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development ( the term citrus fruit includes several different types of fruits. Although oranges account for about 70% of citrus output, the group also includes small citrus – such as tangerines, mandarines, clementines and satsumas – lemons, limes and grapefruits.

And I swear I have about 60% of the crops mentioned above ripening and rotting in my backyard right now.

March is an interesting month in Southern California.  Tangerines and blood oranges are almost done fruiting, Valencia oranges are just coming into season, grapefruit and lemons are plentiful and limes are a little tougher to find, (but they’ll be everywhere just about the time the temperature rises and you need them for your beer.)

I’ve got seven citrus trees on my property and I’ve had to get really creative in order to use all of the fruit the trees produce.  (So far, I haven’t even come close.)  I’ve made compotes, tarts, salads and lemonade.  I’ve candied, zested, juiced and snacked on them.

Madison likes to play with them.  She wanders around the grove (well, it’s not really a grove, but what else do you call seven fruit trees planted in close proximity to each other?) filling her backpack with grapefruit, lemons and oranges playing what she calls, “little homeless girl”.  (Umm, yeah.  Not sure where that came from.  She told me that she imagines what it would be like if she didn’t have a house and she had to collect her own food, fending for herself.)  Thankfully, she’s not a little homeless girl and she has a Naunta who will put that citrus to good use.

My favorite thing to do with the citrus is make curd.  (What an ugly word to describe such a wonderfully tasting thing.  Made properly, citrus curd is rich, silky and light.)  I use it in pies, tarts and as a topping for breakfast scones.  I’ve even eaten it as a snack!  I’ve found the trick to making good citrus curd is to give it all of your attention while it’s on the stovetop, that way it doesn’t curdle, separate or get too gluey.

Of course as I mentioned, I make all kinds of things with the fruit from my trees.  Here are some pictures and some of the things I’ve made with their fruit:


Blood Oranges are a pretty, deep orange color


Blood oranges – when fully ripe, a blood orange is sweet, not tart.  I’ve candied them, made a tart with them, added them to compotes and just snacked on them.








My lemons aren't as yellow as I thought they should be, and they're HUGE


Lemons – perhaps the most versatile of all members of the citrus family, lemons are a kitchen staple in my house.  I use them to flavor my water, make lemonade, curd, season meat, make salad dressing, add zest to cookies, cakes and pastry recipes and so much more.







White Grapefruit won't ripen once they're picked so harvesting them at the right time is key.


Grapefruit – as a kid, my mom would slice a grapefruit in half, section it and sprinkle a little sugar on it.  That’s still my favorite way to eat grapefruit, but when I want to dress it up a bit – like for brunch – I sprinkle the top with a little brown sugar and chopped walnuts then broil it until the sugar melts.







I think these are satsumas, but they could be clementines or tangerines


Satsumas – I like saying “Satsuma” because it makes me sound like a powerful Japanese businessman.  (Say it fast: sat-su-ma)  I like adding them to a citrus compote I make, but they don’t usually stick around long enough to make it into the recipe.  These oranges are so sweet Madison eats them like candy.







Valencia oranges make the best orange juice


Valencia Oranges – I read somewhere that these are the most popular oranges.  I like them because they taste like what I think an orange should taste like – if that makes any sense.  I use them for fresh squeezed orange juice or as a garnish in salads – either an orange ricotta version or the orange and red onion salad I make with spinach.

One comment on “Seasonal Bounty: Citrus

  1. Susan Weisberger
    March 15, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    My favorite is the Satsuma…Please save me some. 🙂

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