Though citrus are grown and available all year-round, they are most commonly enjoyed during the warmer, summer months when temperatures soar and barbecue parties are aplenty. Nothing is more refreshing than enjoying a glass of iced lemonade on a hot summer’s day or starting your morning off with some freshly squeezed orange juice.
From the tiny orange and sweet clementines to the yellow and tart lemons, this bright fruit, which belongs to the citrus family, ranges in color, flavor, shape and varieties.
The Different Types of Citrus Fruits
The main types of citrus varieties include mandarins, sweet oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits and other, more unique varieties, such as pomelo, citron or even yuzu, which are popular in Japan. Ranging in flavor from sweet (satsumas and clementines) to tart, such as Key limes and Meyer lemons, citrus can be savored on their own or used to enhance the flavor of certain dishes.
Recipes for fresh oranges include orange juice or an orange-vinaigrette salad dressing. The acidity from lemons, limes and oranges is often used when making cocktails like whiskey sours or margaritas. The peel of these fruits is used as a cocktail garnish that’s added before serving. Grated lemon zest is extremely flavorful and often added to marinades, baked goods and pasta sauces like creamy carbonara. Meyer lemons and Key limes are used to make tart pies, popularly consumed during the summer months and on holidays like the 4th of July.
How to Freeze Citrus
If you somehow end up with a citrus abundance (hey, it happens!) and don’t want the fruit to spoil, freezing citrus is an easy option that increases the fruit’s longevity for up to three months or more when properly stored. While it’s possible to freeze citrus whole, it’s important to note that the fruit will have a different consistency, one that’s markedly more watery when thawed.
Freezing Clementines in Quarters
For citrus fruits belonging to the mandarin variety – clementines, satsumas, as well as hybrids like tangelo and tango – it’s best to freeze them in quarters. Before freezing clementines, make sure to peel them, leaving as little of the white pith as possible and divide into quarters. Place the quarters in resealable freezer bags, removing the air and sealing.
These will keep frozen for up to three months. To thaw, simply remove the required clementines from the freezer bag and thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes. Frozen mandarins work well in salads or smoothies.
Freezing Orange and Grapefruit Juice
Larger citrus varieties such as sweet oranges and grapefruits freeze best as juices. Before peeling and juicing, you can also grate the oranges and grapefruits (in fact, any citrus) for their zest. Grated orange or lemon zest can also be frozen in an airtight container and keeps well for almost six months.
After grating and juicing, pour the juice into ice cube trays before freezing. Once frozen, remove the ice cubes from the tray and transfer to a freezer bag, making sure to remove all the air. Store this citrus concentrate in the freezer for up to six months. To use, thaw by placing frozen citrus cubes in a microwave and heating for 20–30 seconds or just letting them thaw for a few hours on the counter at room temperature.
For a more accurate measurement, measure out either 1 or 2 tablespoons of juice before pouring into the ice cube trays.
Freezing Lemons and Lime Slices
Freeze lemons by either squeezing the juice out of them and following the method for oranges, or you can cut the lemons into slices, place them on a baking sheet, and put in the freezer until frozen. Transfer them to a resealable freezer bag and store until required.
Frozen lemon or lime slices can be added to water to naturally flavor it. The slices can be thawed and squeezed over your salads or in your sauces and smoothies. The high water content of citrus will cause the fruit to expand when frozen, so they will be relatively easy to squeeze and produce more liquid when thawed.