Winter Citrus—it may not be local, but it is in season now. Make the most of this sweet, sunny import by preserving it before it goes bad.
I woke up on New Year’s Day like many, ready to tackle a new month and a new year. I’d made my resolutions, tied up loose ends and prepared to sort through the chaos from the end of the holiday season. Part of that madness involved a kitchen filled with more citrus than I knew what to do with, having received such an abundance from family and friends.
The tradition of gifting citrus started long ago, when the fruit was a luxury and truly a seasonal delicacy. In the old days, finding an orange in your stocking was a rare treat. With the southern citrus harvest falling primarily during the frozen northern months, a piece of fruit that made the journey up the coast was infinitely more valuable than a late-harvested apple. If you ask me, even in these modern days of infinite accessibility, citrus is still a coveted treat. My favorite gifts are the ones you can eat, and an orange certainly checks that box.
Oranges are juicy and sweet and leave the most pleasant scent on your fingertips. They taste like halftime during soccer games, or warm summer days by the lake. They evoke memories—Dad at the breakfast table, joyfully eating an orange while I bask in golden sunbeams. It’s a ritual we all know: breaking through the orange peel with a thumbnail, puncturing a segment and showering your arm with tangy juices. Citrus fruit conjures warmth, sunlight and summer’s embrace. This is perhaps its most prized attribute, especially in the dead of winter.