Friday, May 1, 2020

Using the Whole Orange

Have you ever been lucky enough to buy or receive some citrus fruit that was so fresh, beautiful, and perfect that it felt like a crime not to use every bit of it? We definitely have. And we’re not the only ones. In fact, over the centuries, wise chefs, housewives, and bakers beyond measure have recognized that every part of the citrus fruit is precious and delicious.

Flavor and Nutrition: Not Just Inside

This idea has a very sound basis when you know a little more about citrus. While the interior of the fruit is certainly sweet and juicy, a great deal of valuable flavor actually resides in the peel. It’s full of intensely flavorful citrus oil. In fact, these oils impart most of the familiar fragrance we associate with oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines, and so on.

Not only that, citrus peel is extremely nutritious—a powerhouse, if you will. Did you know that orange peel has 3 times as much vitamin C as the flesh of the orange? It’s also high in the plant compounds known as polyphenols, which are under serious study for their potential to prevent cancer. Citrus peel is high in vitamins as well.

Pith and Seeds?

The “white stuff” (technically known as pith) has health benefits too! Pith is high in pectin, which contains both valuable fiber and a substance known as prebiotics. Prebiotics encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria—the “good guys”—that boost our immune system and keep our overall health strong.

What about citrus seeds? While not especially delicious, citrus seeds are nontoxic and won’t harm you. You may not know that they also have a traditional use in making marmalade. Like pith, seeds contain a lot of pectin, used as a preserves thickener. Here’s a fascinating page on how to use citrus seeds to thicken jams and jellies.

But back to using the whole fruit…every last luscious bit. If you are the proud owner of some oranges, tangerines, or grapefruits that you’d like to use every part of, read on. These recipes use the entire fruit every time, to delicious effect. No waste....all taste!

Recipes That Use The Whole Fruit

First, marmalade—perhaps the most well-known “dish” to use whole citrus fruit. This customizable recipe allows you to adjust to the type of citrus you have and to tweak the flavor. I think rosewater-grapefruit sounds pretty intriguing!

Cakes using the whole orange are quite popular, for good reason. In this first option, 2-3 fresh oranges are pureed, peel and all, then mixed with butter, flour, sugar, spices, eggs, and sour cream and baked up into a delicious looking bundt cake.

In this second version, two large navel oranges are boiled to soften them and gentle the flavor a bit, then mixed with ground almonds, sugar, and eggs. This very moist and well-loved recipe is also gluten-free!

Here’s another way to use whole citrus in a cake—a tangerine upside-down cake! In this recipe, six tangerines are sliced, skin and all, to make a gorgeous caramelized topping to a rich cake.

Interested in something more savory? You’ll find many great options involving roasted whole citrus and meats. This beautiful citrus and herb roasted chicken, which uses 2 whole oranges and 2 whole lemons, brings the flavors of a Mediterranean countryside to your home.

This showstopper roasted salmon is broiled topped with two whole sliced tangerines and one sliced blood oranges.

Finally, for a surprisingly simple yet complex dish, why not try roasting orange slices? They will get a bit caramelized and make a great bite alongside bread and cheese. This isn’t something people are likely to have had before.

You can also try mixing citrus types and even sprinkling with herbs.

How about a chocolate roasted orange tart?

Enjoy every bit of your citrus dishes. When citrus is this good—we should eat it all!

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