Orange crush: It's prime time for citrus

Detroit Free PressJanuary 1, 2013 

  • Know your oranges Buy fruit that is heavy for its size and free of blemishes or soft spots. Most will keep at room temperature for about a week and in the refrigerator for three weeks. Cara Cara: A low-acid navel orange. Seedless, sweet and tangy. Flesh is dark pink or reddish. Can be tough to peel. Add segments to salads and juice to sauces. Honeybell: A bell-shaped cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. Easy to peel. Super, super sweet and juicy. Best eaten out of hand. Get them now; their season ends in early February. Blood: Moro variety is most common in stores; about the size of a tennis ball. Flesh is dark crimson and sweet-tart with berry notes. Skin may have maroon patches. Few or no seeds. Use juice in sauces and drinks, slices or segments in salads. Clementine: An easy-to-peel mandarin orange, often called a Christmas orange. Sweet and most often seedless. A great snacking orange. Often sold in 5-pound boxes or 3-pound bags. Juice is great in vinaigrettes. Satsuma: A mandarin orange with loose skin that peels easily. Seedless, sweet and juicy. Terrific snacking orange. Often sold with leaves attached, so it has decorative uses. Most canned mandarins are from Satsumas.
  • What’s in it for you? • 1 orange meets 100 percent of daily vitamin C requirement • Good source of vitamin A, fiber and potassium
  • Orange, Beet and Fennel Salad This salad makes a stunning presentation. You can use all red beets or all Cara Cara oranges. Adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2012. 2 medium red beets, tops trimmed 2 medium golden beets, tops trimmed 3 blood oranges 1 medium Cara Cara orange 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced crosswise on a mandoline 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced on a mandoline (about 1/3 cup) Good-quality olive or walnut oil for drizzling Coarse sea salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro and/or chervil leaves PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets, leaving some water on skins. Wrap individually in foil; place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Let cool. USE a sharp knife to cut all peel and white pith from all oranges; discard. Working over a medium bowl, cut between membranes of 2 blood oranges to release segments into bowl; squeeze juice from membranes into bowl and discard membranes. Slice remaining blood orange and Cara Cara orange crosswise into thin rounds. You can cut the rounds in half if they are large. Place sliced oranges in bowl with the segments. Add lemon juice and lime juice. PEEL cooled beets. Slice 2 beets crosswise into thin rounds. Cut remaining 2 beets into wedges. Strain citrus juices, reserve. Layer beets and oranges on plates, dividing evenly. Arrange fennel and onion over beets. Spoon reserved citrus juices over, then drizzle salad generously with oil. Season to taste with coarse sea salt and pepper. Let salad stand for 5 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Garnish salad with cilantro leaves. Yield: 6 servings. PER SERVING: 90 calories (15 percent from fat), 1 gram fat (0 grams sat. fat), 15 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 58 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 grams fiber
  • Clementine and Five-Spice Chicken Adapted from Eating Well magazine, February 2012. 8 to 10 clementines (mandarins, honey tangerines or oranges work well, too) Generous 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder 1/4 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, crushed, or crushed red pepper flakes 1 tablespoon canola oil 4 large, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 pounds total), skin removed and fat trimmed 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt 1/4 cup small fresh cilantro leaves 1 to 2 thinly sliced green onions 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil GRATE 1 teaspoon zest finely and squeeze 1 cup juice from 6 to 8 clementines. Slice the remaining 2 clementines into 1/4-inch-thick round slices. Cut the peel off, discard and set the rounds aside. COMBINE the zest, juice, five-spice powder and peppercorns or pepper flakes in a small bowl. HEAT the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with the salt. Cook the chicken, turning frequently, until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Pour in the juice mixture and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook the chicken until just cooked through, 16-18 minutes. TRANSFER cooked chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Increase the heat to high and cook the sauce, stirring often, until thickened and reduced to 1/2 to 2/3 cup, 2-4 minutes. Stir in the clementine slices, cilantro, green onions and sesame oil. Serve the chicken with the sauce. Yield: 4 servings. PER SERVING: 283 calories (41 percent from fat), 13 grams fat (3 grams sat. fat), 19 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams protein, 374 mg sodium, 81 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber
  • Pork Chops with Oranges and Parsley If desired, add a few pitted and sliced green or kalamata olives or capers along with the orange segments. Adapted from Everyday Food magazine, November 2010. 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil 4 bone-in pork chops about 1-inch thick (about 2 pounds) Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 strips orange zest, plus 1/2 cup orange juice and 2 oranges such as Cara Cara, peeled and with pith removed and flesh cut into segments 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped HEAT oil over medium-high in a large skillet. Season pork with salt and pepper and cook until cooked through, 9 minutes, flipping once. Transfer to a platter. ADD orange zest and juice to skillet. Cook until slightly thickened, 1  1/2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange segments. To serve, spoon orange mixture over pork chops and top with parsley. Yield: 4 servings. PER SERVING: 318 calories (37 percent from fat), 13 grams fat (4 grams sat. fat), 14 grams carbohydrates, 35 grams protein, 365 mg sodium, 93 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber

If you eat and shop for food in season, check out the citrus aisle. Winter is peak time for oranges, and most stores are loaded with them.

The fruit brings some juicy health benefits, but the selection can be confusing.

You may find sweet Satsumas. And that darling clementine, also called a Christmas orange, may be available. But there are others – like the Cara Cara, Honeybell (actually a tangerine-grapefruit hybrid) and blood oranges.

Their flesh varies from brilliant red or orange to salmon pink to orange streaked with crimson. Their flavor profiles are just as different, from sweet to super sweet to sweet-tart. And some are more chin-drippingly juicy than others.

So let’s compare. Follow the guide to five varieties in stores now.

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