The abundance of native citrus fruits in Los Angeles this time of year is a main reason I love being Californian. You see front yard Meyer lemon trees moaning with yellow balls. Grapefruits and grapefruits frame driveways, and trees that are incredibly heavy with oranges regularly require double intake. To be surrounded by so much citrus fruits makes you happy. Especially when you can get your hands on it. And have I ever. The other day my father's neighbors generously handed over a huge box of Meyers, mandarins, oranges and Eureka lemons – a real box with your knees on. Here I write down how I used it, saved it, and saved the citrus recipes I made all week.
A week in citrus
I thought I'd first discuss everything I've done with citrus in the past week. It was a mix! I'll include recipes for the pastes and syrups below.
- Kosho: I started a batch of Meyer Lemon Kosho. Kosho is traditionally a flavorful, fermented Japanese yuzu paste, but because there are more lemons here, I tend to use it.
- Citrus peel pastes: I also mixed Meyer lemon, Eureka, and orange peels into a range of quick (non-fermented) pastes and frozen them in single-use quantities. I'll write the recipes down below. I use them to flavor and enhance everything! From pasta and soup to rice bowls and roasted vegetable tacos.
- Most mandarins were simply peeled and put in your mouth, but a few made it into my favorite citrus salad (I'll highlight that below).
- Meyer Lemon & Rose Geranium Syrup without heat: I love the intensity of syrups without heat and made a thick Meyer lemon syrup with an intense flavor by massaging lots of lemon peel with sugar and rose geranium leaves.
- Orange syrup without heat: Same process as the lemon syrup, but here held in an orange peel. See the recipe below.
- Citrus ice cubes: After peeling citrus fruits and making pastes or syrups, all the juice was frozen in ice cube trays for future use in beverages, granitas, soups, etc.
My favorite citrus salad
I love this salad. It has a mixture of citrus slices, peanuts, red onions, a few threads of saffron, and almond extract along with good olive oil. The recipe is in Super Natural Simple, which will be out next month. There is more information here (and so many great soups and salads).
How to peel citrus fruits efficiently
Ok, let's talk about citrus peeling. This week has been busy. Peeling citrus fruits is not a quick task. Knowing this, you will enjoy the process a lot more. I basically have three moves (see below). 1. Start with clean, dry citrus fruits and cut the citrus fruits into wide sheets from top to bottom. 2. Cut away all the bitter pulp. To do this, hold the bowl flat against the cutting board and cut it away from you. 3. Scrape the remaining pith off the shell with the blunt or "flip side" of a knife.
What about the juice?
A lot of peeling means a lot of juice. Sometimes we just drink it or use it in the days to come. However, if you freeze the juice in ice cube trays, you can get easily thawing portions for dressing, granitas, soups, and curries – basically anywhere you can think of a sunny burst of citrus!
So many ways to use citrus peel pastes
Citrus peel pastes are fragrant flavors. You can make them as simple or complex as you like. I tend to keep mine pretty simple, but I love the addition of garlic – quite a bit of it. You can add spice blends, mix citrus fruits, use other oils instead of olive oil, etc. Here's how I use them after they're made:
Orange-garlic-citrus paste (Recipe below) is super garlicky and was amazingly combined with a healthy amount of cayenne pepper, water, and coconut milk to make a nice broth for soba noodles – season with more salt to taste to get it just right. I also put a dollop of my Chana Masala at lunchtime and loved how it brightened everything up. It was also incredibly well tipped on a bowl of this noodle soup with fire broth. And finally, I used it as the final accent for roasted vegetable tacos (cauliflower & mushroom) on homemade corn tortillas. Orange & Garlic Citrus Paste is pictured below.
Meyer lemon garlic citrus paste (Recipe below) was tossed perfectly with a bowl of fried golden artichoke hearts. The next day I tossed a generous amount of the citrus paste with hot pasta, extra olive oil, pasta water, lots of spring onions, some shredded mozzarella, herbs, and broccoli – so good! And the other night it was the perfect slather on a simple buckwheat Gruyere crepe.
No-heat citrus peel syrups
Heating fruit changes the taste profile. As I mentioned above, I love the intensity and uncooked clarity that rings through citrus peel syrups. By patiently massaging citrus peel with sugar and macerating it, you'll strain an intense, full-bodied syrup that can be used in myriad ways. A favorite this week was an easy-to-drink dark rum cocktail with a dash of orange syrup, a dash of dark rum shaken with tons of ice and topped with grapefruit mousse La Croix and a kiss of lime juice.
Cookbooks with an emphasis on citrus recipes
Citri – I love this little 60-page cookbook zine by Loria Stern. I've met Loria and her beautiful creations several times since I moved to Los Angeles (thanks to Jessica & Joanna) and she made sure I had Citri at the perfect time – during the peak citrus season. It's a citrus love letter with 25 bright and brilliant recipes.
Also check out Citrus: Sweet and Savory Sun-kissed Recipes by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson, Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers by Gwendolyn Richards, and Citrus: 150 Recipes to Celebrate the Sweet and Sour by Catherine Phipps.
More citrus recipes from the archive
There are many citrus-oriented recipes in the 101 archives and I will include them in the searches below, but these two recipes have been extremely popular over the years. A couple of years ago I also linked a number of great winter citrus recipes here.
Candied citrus lollipops: magic in two ingredients. Plump, juicy citrus segments covered with thin, crispy sugar peel. They are the perfect, delightful sweet treat.
A spectrum of citrus salts: citrus salts from all types of winter citrus peel – clementines, wild lime, Meyer lemon, kalamansi oranges and mandarin quats. It's that easy.
Let me know your favorite recipes and resources that focus on citrus fruits. And in the meantime, I hope you find some inspiration here, especially with the citrus peel pastes. Enjoy! -H
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